In the past, I have typically avoided really commenting publicly on more political and controversial topics like what is happening in Ferguson. Simply put, it is uncomfortable. However, I now feel that it is also important not to be apathetic. There is no arguing that this event is not a tragedy, we should take some time to personally reflect upon it. I am not an expert by any means, but I have thought a lot and have had some meaningful conversations.
This is a complex issue and there is some wrongdoing by people on all sides. The “protestors” who are looting stores in their community are undoubtedly breaking the law and should be punished accordingly. There is simply no excuse for their actions. While this is unexcusable, it was not unpredictable outcome. It is disheartening that the officials weren’t better prepared.
Perhaps the justice system could be more holistic and take into account the implications of the outcomes of the decisions they make. Choosing to indict Wilson would not have put him in prison, but it would give people a chance to understand the situation. The entire community is hurting. People cannot trust a system they sincerely do not believe in. I feel the justice system had an opportunity here to give people closure. By not even indicting Darren Wilson and letting him stand trial, the system has removed this possibility.
When you distill this scenario to its most basic level: a man, Darren Wilson, shot and killed a teenager, Michael Brown. For justice, there must be consequences for his actions. Expanding the thought experiment a bit, there is NO way anybody of reasonable logic can conclude that a police officer shooting an unarmed teenager 11 times should be justifiable under the law as a legal use of force. This simply MUST change. A police officer is supposed to make personal sacrifices for the good of the community, as part of the job description. Even if he technically followed the letter of the law, I think that having the courage to face a trial would be commendable.
I am not alone in my concern of the increasing militarization of police departments across the United States. If you give a man a gun and show him that there are no repercussions in using it (also see Zimmerman), what do you think is going to happen?
I am glad that the prosecutor was at least able to release the gathered evidence. There is quite a bit to go through. If I were running GoPro, I would be DONATING a camera for every officer for this department to wear while on duty (and then selling to others), because a recording of the events would have clearly explained the situation much better than 60+ eyewitness reports.
Here’s the data for anybody interested: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/25/us/evidence-released-in-michael-brown-case.html
This situation is far from over; I sincerely hope that some good will come out of it. However, I’m not sure how optimistic I am. I don’t know if any positive and tangible changes came out of the Trayvon Martin case (the stand your ground laws are even still standing) before it was simply swept out of the minds of most Americans. I guess we’ll see what happens next.