Not a Racial Issue

The Ferguson, MO shooting of a black teenager is not a racial issue. The issue is excessive use of force by police. In this case, thoroughly vetted by a grand jury with all the evidence publicly available (although without the racial overtones, it would not have even made it to the grand jury in the first place), it was determined that officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in self defense. The teenager attacked the officer in his car, tried to take his gun and then, when ordered to halt, turned and charged at Wilson.

There was no evidence offered that shooting or even stopping Brown in the street had anything to do with color. Brown was walking in the middle of the street right after having shoplifted items from a store during which he roughed up a clerk who challenged him to put the items back. Unless you want to argue that black people have the right to ignore police, the law, or attack an officer, there was nothing racial about it.

You might argue that Brown shouldn’t have been stopped in the first place, that it wasn’t worth the hassle, or that Wilson could have just tried to wound Brown (like in the movies), or could have tried to wrestle the 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound Brown to the ground. Read the testimony and decide what you would have done.

What has to be examined in this case, and in every case, and in all instances of police force, is how much force is necessary. There are literally hundreds of cases a year across the United States in which this is an issue. We have to be concerned about all of them. Go on the Internet and look up the number killed by police (and the circumstances), the number of police killed on duty, the crime percentages by race, the race on race crime, or as in Chicago, the gang wars between Latinos and African-Americans. Check on the number who have died from excessive or improper use of Tasers. There is plenty of information that indicates excessive force by government agents is an issue.

There are an estimated 1 million certified police officers, most of them employed by government. They have multiple weapons and the power of the law behind them. The majority of them will never fire their weapon except in training. Nonetheless, whatever our color we need to be concerned about how that authority is used. There were major scandals in Los Angeles and Philadelphia that got public attention and abuses in many more cities that don’t get national attention. Race may be involved in some. Certainly there’s a history of racial discrimination that can’t be ignored, but can’t be applied indiscriminately.

However, we have to be equally concerned about individual behavior from chronic petty theft to murder. It’s handy to remember that the criminals in these less-than-well-to-do neighborhoods want the police out of there. And, it’s even more important to remember that the majority of residents want protection from the criminals. It won’t come about through voluntary, let-us-do-our-own-thing community policing.

Unfortunately, the Ferguson case was hijacked by the professional racial baiters like tax cheat Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and Van Jones, radical groups like the Black Panthers, Occupy, and even Palestinians, not to mention professional politicians including the Attorney General Eric Holder who declared that he’s a law man, but “also black.” Nothing positive is likely to come out of these protests except to give visibility and probably money to thousands who don’t deserve it. None seem to be offering solutions to real problems.

The victims remain in the high crime areas. They need to be protected from the criminals as well as protected from harassment or excessive force by police. But, ask yourself: Are the people in Ferguson safer now than after the protests and the burning?


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