Over the last several days, we have watched the horror unfolding as protestors face police, who are firing tear gas, smoke bombs, and rubber bullets. We’ve watched protestors defy a government-ordered curfew running through neighborhoods, attacking and throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. And all this is occurring, not in some third world country, not in the Gaza Strip, not in Lebanon or Tripoli. No, we see all of this happening in Ferguson, Missouri, a city that has a population that is 2/3’s black, but the police force only has three black officers. The rioting and the protests are all about the police shooting and killing of an unarmed black man. CNN has been running high-level coverage of this as if this were the sixties, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was heading there to fight for the civil rights of the slain young man. President Obama has interrupted his vacation to have high-level meetings, brief the press, and send Eric Holder, the Attorney General to investigate, as well as having 40 FBI agents question people on the issue.
There was an injustice done. That this young black man was killed by the police is an inarguable fact. But another injustice is the way that the media has handled, and helped escalate, this issue. Of course, a young man was gunned down by the police in a horrible manner. Yes, this officer will be held accountable. But the outrage from the community is out of proportion, because this wasn’t an innocent victim of a crime. This was a young man, one who was supposed to be headed to college, acting as much a thug and hoodlum as those who committed crimes in Chicago, supposedly the president’s home city. Eyewitnesses say that Mr. Brown reached into the police officer’s car, a violation if ever I heard one. And surveillance video shows the same young man, only minutes prior to his confrontation with the police, strong-arming an old man in a convenience store, stealing cigars. Yes, this young man thought nothing of using his superior weight and strength against an unarmed, virtually defenseless, store manager, but where’s the outrage from the media, and more importantly, from the community and the leadership of the black community. Nothing can detract from what the officer did, killing the young man. But this attempt to martyr someone who preyed on the weak and helpless is not what the good Dr. King wanted.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, two prominent members of the black community, have done little or nothing to extinguish the flames in Ferguson. Barack Obama has caused even more anguish, and is causing even more disturbance, by injecting himself and the justice department into something that is essentially a local issue. Both the president and the attorney general, if they wish to take on something like this, should concentrate on the black-on-black crimes and homicide that are happening on a daily basis in Chicago, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and yes, even Washington, DC. The confrontations taking place in Ferguson are local matters, and should be handled by local authorities. Local community leaders should have been taking the first steps, in the beginning, to diffuse the situation, corralling those hoodlums that have shanghaied the protests and turned the protests into the ugly confrontations, and worked with the local police to insure that the situation was resolved in a manner that supports the family and the community.
The Michael Brown killing is deplorable. According to eyewitnesses, Michael had been running, but turned around. At this point, the police officer should have held fire, should have followed procedures, and cuffed and arrested Michael. Instead, the officer inexplicably shot him down. This is incontrovertible. However, the actions by the community, and the public at large, have been as reprehensible as the actions of the police officer. The level of protests, the media coverage, turned what could have been an issue that was resolved quickly, with minimum fuss, to a disaster for the black community at large. Yes, there should be justice for Michael. But this does not help, more, it detracts, from attaining justice for Michael Brown. The lootings, the shootings, the rampant disregard for the community, period, is not, and will not, bring justice to Michael’s family, or resolution to the community. The protests have very little to do with justice, and more to do with people getting their faces on television. And the news media do not help. The amount of time that news outlets such as CNN spend on this isolated incident, and the little time they spend on actual areas where black-on-black crimes, shows a huge disparity in what the news media considers proper news. The real protests should be held in the poor neighborhoods of places like New York and Chicago, where there are daily shootings of young men, by other young men. Places like Los Angeles, where gangs routinely shoot up neighborhoods, to establish control or just for the fun of it. The president should be concentrating on real issues facing the US, issues such as the economy, the failure of the Affordable Care Act, the invasion and terrorism of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and the failure to insure there are jobs to allow Americans to live affordably, not just having to take part-time jobs to get by.
The failure of the black community leadership in Ferguson is the biggest serious issue in this problem. The black leadership in Ferguson has to step up and take responsibility to calm the protests, to work with the community to get everyone to sit down and talk, and to work with the leadership of Ferguson to get to the bottom of this issue. The grandstanding by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as the maneuvering of the New Black Panthers and the non-stop coverage and posturing of the news media, are the reasons that this issue, which should have been handled and subsequently resolved to the point of having the officer arraigned by now, continues to percolate in this area. Eric Holder doesn’t have a true reason to be involved in this issue. But the attacks on the police, the lawlessness by the criminal element, and the lack of faith in the local police department and the local community to keep the citizens safe, pushed the governor to make this decision. The local community should be turning in the criminal element that has caused so much of the problems. And then, the local community should be sitting down with the local political leadership to work out how the issues that separate the community.
Dr. King died to try and unite the black community and provide leadership. To quote the good doctor: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Dr. King would be ashamed and dismayed at the turmoil in Ferguson. Dr. King would be at the forefront of calming the situation down, making the black leadership accountable, berating the criminal element, and making parents accountable for the children’s actions. Dr. King would also be working to bring to justice the slayer of Michael Brown, but he would not be making a martyr of someone who acted in such a manner. Dr. King would offer condolences to the bereaved family, but would also make sure that the community know young Brown was not a saint, and that Young Brown failed his community. Jesse Jackson is unable to attain the level of Dr. King, neither does Al Sharpton. Both have failed the black community, and failed black Americans nationwide. Now is the time to put this all behind us, to work on resolving the issues, and to bring justice to the family.
“We Must All Stand Together, Or Assuredly, We Shall All Swing Separate…”