Protests in Ferguson, Mo., a rising tide
By PAT WATSON
Given past actions across the United States in bringing to justice White police officers or their proxies who shot and killed African-Americans, it should come as no surprise that officer Darren Wilson, 28, was not indicted for murder or manslaughter, but instead is now free of charges of the August 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a mainly Black suburb. Brown was unarmed and reportedly had his hands held high in the universal sign for surrender when he was shot.
It should also come as no surprise that rioting and public protests followed.
There had been a months-long wait for the grand jury decision and each day of delay increased tension. Little wonder then, that news of the decision not to indict sparked violent reaction. Yet, despite protests, this kind of police related killing will continue.
Racial classification matters very much in the United States. That is why the two-term election of Barack Obama stands out as such a remarkable occurrence. Obama’s election and re-election has been and continues to be a flashpoint for racism in America.
The shooting of Brown and the many shootings of young Black men by police officers across the United States has to be a matter of concern for us here, as there is a similar pattern of tension between Black communities and the police. Only last week, we learned that despite new directions from the Toronto Police Service Board, officers are still carrying out street stops and harassment of young Black males in numbers that exceed the general population.
There are voices that say the police are just doing their job, but the parents of Michael Brown, the parents of Trayvon Martin, and the parents of the 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot and killed by police in Cleveland just days ago, would disagree.
In the heat of this argument following Brown’s killing, it is a moral offence that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani would use this tragedy to talk about the rate of violence and killing among Black people in the U.S. – so-called Black-on-Black crime. Giuliani, a political conservative, is not the first to raise this argument, but it is sickening that he would add his voice to this ridiculous assertion.
That he would make such an assertion without also pointing out that most Whites are killed by Whites, that most wives are killed by husbands, is one more indication of the kind of character assassination that passes for discourse on race relations in the U.S., and shows how much further that nation must go to heal the stain of racial misunderstanding that is doing so much damage there. In fact, in a still segregated America, most killings occur among people of the same ethnicity.
The United States is home to nations living apart. When people are strangers to each other, and when they follow stories that strip the other of their humanity then these are the results.
Americans need to stop repeating ogre tales about who they are and who other Americans are. There appears to be a lack of awareness of the greater presence of humanity among large segments of that society and that is really what is doing damage.
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