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I am completely, utterly, totally and absolutely unsurprised by the Grand Jury decision in favor of no indictment in the slaying of Michael Brown Jr. by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Very much like a gambler with a few thousand dollars entering a casino, anyone knowing how the system works knew we would be coming out of there flat broke and unhappy.


It really was a lot like a casino circumstance. You had a “prosecuting attorney” that went above and beyond to allow the defense every opportunity to state their case, while not instructing the Grand Jury in anything to do with the evidence and the law, and who is the son of a police officer (his father was killed in the line of duty), and who relies on the police to help him get his convictions. This was noted as a conflict of interest before all of this even began, but it was ignored by the people who could have done something to make it fair (Governor Nixon). The scales of justice tilted severely in favor of the house.

Additionally, the elements of announcing the result of the verdict at night, when the protesters out on the streets were the ones most angered and most disenfranchised, guaranteed a reaction that would appear, on television, that the entire community was filled with rioters. It makes for a “justified” appearing verdict if you were to take a passing glance at what was going on, assuming that what you are seeing is all that there is. And camera crews like flashing police lights, burning cars and smoky streets. It makes for vivid pictures on newscasts.

As they did at the beginning of the matter, Ferguson Police donned their helmets, carried their batons, hurled their tear gas and pushed and shoved people with their shields. Again, all of this to agitate the crowd, to aggravate an already upset group and to create a scene that made it appear that the law enforcement officers were the peace keepers and the citizens who protested were the lawless bunch. Even George Orwell would have been impressed.

The underlying point is none of this speaks to the true nature of what’s going on, both in Ferguson, where it has bubbled to the surface, but also throughout the country. This isn’t just a problem in the south which is traditionally known as a place where blacks are not welcome, nor the Midwest, where we are seeing just how striated these neighborhoods are. This is an issue that is ongoing, everywhere, from New York City, where we’re still waiting for a grand jury in the case of the choke hold death of Eric Garner, to Minnesota, where a St. Paul resident, simply sitting on a bench, wound up getting tased as he went to pick up his kids from school. There’s no place in this country that’s immune to it and no place where similar situations are impossible. Ferguson, MO is Everytown, U.S.A.

I don’t want to diminish this, or dilute it by looking elsewhere. Michael Brown’s case was intentionally bungled by a prosecutor that did not want to uphold the law. The evidence was intentionally not put into context for the Grand Jury and they came back with a result that claimed that Darren Wilson did nothing wrong in shooting an unarmed black man in the street and leaving his body there for over four hours.

But the only way any of this can and does happen, is that people are perfectly comfortable thinking that some people are different from, better than, more deserving than, more important than other people.

That is racism.

For all the people that claimed the United States was beyond it, having elected and re-elected Barack Obama, you now can see the truth, on full display on television, the internet, and perhaps right in your own cities and towns.

But this begs the question: Where do we go from here? What is next? There is a lot of lip service being made, comments about the family of Michael Brown and “not knowing what they can be going through, having lost a child.” But coming from the people who did nothing to secure at least, at the very least, a trial just to see if Darren Wilson was guilty of *SOMETHING,* well, it’s just as meaningful as the press conference where the prosecutor explained nothing of how the Grand Jury decided that Officer Wilson deserved to walk.

But it brings us back to that crucial element. There are people who coldly and cruelly treat other citizens of our own country as if they are members of ISIS or the Taliban. There are people who firmly believe that some humans are “animals,” and describe them as such when discussing them. There are people who are happy and pleased with the result of this case, and who feel the result here both justifies the action and will hope it encourages more and similar acts in other places.

And that’s the scariest part of this. Nothing can bring Michael Brown back. Nothing can undo what happened. But, as a nation, we always talk about being “fair.” We freak out at a baseball game when an umpire blows a call, or at an NFL game when a referee didn’t get it right. So where is the national response coming from when it really was a case of life and death? Where is the empathy?

It’s just so sad that so many protesters were arrested for exercising their freedom of speech, regarding what happened, and the one guy that caused it all had a paid vacation for four months, and I guess is going to be the next celebrity guest at the St. Louis Gun Show.

People know that all humans are the same. People are not that naïve. But until people start acting like it and proving to each other that they are the same, the results are going to be the same. And with the same results, none of these issues are going to progress, we’re still going to be shaking our heads, tsk tsking some bad thing we saw on the news. And we’ll have to do it again when the next incident occurs. And the next. And the next. And the next generation, and the next generation. Forever.

//

This unwanted thinkpost was written for LJ Idol with the prompt: Gauntlet

Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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fodschwazzle
Nov. 25th, 2014 05:38 am (UTC)
"Even George Orwell would be impressed."

This line gave me shivers. As a teacher teaching Animal Farm right now, I feel like there is not enough that can be said for being able to cut through the images that our establishment uses to conceal reality. And not enough that can be said to make people do just that. This piece haunts me, and I couldn't agree more.

I think many people believe in a tipping point of these issue, but many of these people are not willing to go out and be that tipping point. So many people are stuck in thinking that their vote or voice will change nothing and become therefore powerless in truth. Highly thought provoking.
dmousey
Nov. 25th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh god, Shwazz isn't that the truth... look what only 1/3 of the country voted for in this past election... :(
(no subject) - penpusher - Nov. 26th, 2014 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dmousey - Nov. 26th, 2014 06:15 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - n3m3sis43 - Nov. 27th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
watching_ships
Nov. 25th, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
A lot of things have made me feel despondent today. Michael Brown, the current situation in one of my city's high schools (Norman, OK)...I want to believe things will be better. That we can make them better.

Great work.
penpusher
Nov. 26th, 2014 04:56 am (UTC)
I had to look up the Norman situation, but wow, that is one huge, horrible mess too.

People have to first understand that we are all people. And those that can help have to start doing their part. This requires people to release those notions that they have been taught since childhood, which is why this is so slow to occur.

Do we need to put The Golden Rule on every floor, wall, ceiling and door so people never stop seeing it?

Thanks for reading and for calling my attention to another situation that needs some tender care. Thanks for a great compliment.
packgrog
Nov. 25th, 2014 02:27 pm (UTC)
As I have seen in numerous places today: "White privilege is me being outraged and angered by the ‪#‎FergusonDecision‬ rather than utterly terrified."

And I am outraged. I'm sickened by the consistent, continual miscarriage of justice in Ferguson, and indeed throughout the country. I'm sickened by members of MY OWN FAMILY glossing over this continual injustice by parroting the usual Fox News drivel by proclaiming things like "Where is all the uproar when an innocent police officer is shot?" (uh, that happens every time, but isn't remotely the point here). I'm sickened by the unchecked conflicts of interest and blatant mishandling of tense situations because of an unflinching view from the Ferguson police that the people they are meant to protect are all criminal and/or subhuman. The FPD continually acting like an invading force rather than members of the community is inexcusable. This is an utter disaster.

I don't care if Mike Brown was an asshole. I don't care if he was a criminal. At most, he should have been tased and arrested if he actually did assault Wilson. But nearly every action by the FPD has shown a deep, systematic abuse of power, and a justifiable distrust of authority on the part of the people of Ferguson. They are repeatedly invaded by armed strangers who view each and every one of them as criminals, and who face no consequences whatsoever for gunning them down in broad daylight in their own neighborhood. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I am privileged not to have to live in constant fear because of the color of my skin. I am utterly outraged that any human being should have to endure this. The fact that this kind of systematic unchecked oppression is STILL HAPPENING FIFTY FUCKING YEARS AFTER KING'S SPEECH is absolutely inexcusable. I am glad to see that the justice department is apparently investigating "potential" civil rights violations (is this not completely obvious!?!), and I hope that they follow through. This entire situation has been disaster. Those responsible MUST be held accountable, and this cannot be allowed to happen again. NEVER AGAIN.
pen_grunt
Nov. 25th, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah. This.

I don't have the words to express my deep sadness and disappointment and frustration...but I have the privilege not to be terrified for my unborn child. Bad sh*t might still happen to him/her in its life, but the deck isn't stacked against them from the get-go.

It's just so. UGH. Fucking UGH.
(no subject) - dmousey - Nov. 25th, 2014 08:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pen_grunt - Nov. 25th, 2014 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - packgrog - Nov. 25th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Nov. 26th, 2014 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
i_17bingo
Nov. 25th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC)
I am beyond exhausted by this. I have the luxury of being exhausted, though, because I'm not that certain kind of person who gets shot for dressing in hoodies (and then posthumously admonished on the news for having the audacity to wear pants that sag). I am so tired of the "no angel" coverage of an unarmed kid who got killed for the capital crime of "not being respectful." And this is only a capital crime for certain people, because a different kind of person gets to go to department stores with assault rifles and not even get asked to leave.

(But it's Post-Racial America*, so it's not about these unarmed teenagers being black. Honest!)

Oh, and it literally makes me want to throw up that the police officer who should not be named is the next celebrity guest at the St. Louis Gun Show.

* This phrase bothers me so much that I took an unnecessary swipe at it (two days before the verdict even) in my entry, which is an urban fantasy piece focused on spiritual possession.
packgrog
Nov. 25th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
"...the next celebrity guest at the St. Louis Gun Show."

WHAT. Do you have a reference for this?
(no subject) - i_17bingo - Nov. 25th, 2014 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Nov. 26th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Nov. 26th, 2014 05:12 am (UTC) - Expand
greatljname
Nov. 25th, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree more.
penpusher
Nov. 26th, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
I'm always very glad to see your great name in my list, even if it's under these terrible circumstances.
dmousey
Nov. 25th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
The tensions that exploded (mildly IMO considering the circumstances), were very carefully orchestrated to portray Ferguson as a town full of violent 'others'. You're right in saying Orwell would be proud.

I, for one, do not expect much out of this except more villification of those with brown skin. After all, look how much changed after Sandy Hook. Cynical, no just truthful.

I sign as many petitions and call my State Reps and Senators, but until we change attitudes, well... yeah. :(



penpusher
Nov. 26th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
It really requires people to stand together, to make their voices heard and to start making changes. When President Obama was still a Senator, the whole "Change" and "Hope" elements weren't things he could do all by himself. He needed the support and action of the citizens of this country to do the heavy lifting required to overturn a system that has abused a lot of citizens of many sorts and continues to punish and kill members of our society because of how they look, dress and talk.

I swear, just on a basic level, the time we collectively have had to spend just discussing this situation could have been used to do anything else! Baking cupcakes, learning languages, playing music, all things we should have been doing. Instead, we're all still caught up in this 18th century issue. What are the total of hours spent on racism? Maybe we would have fixed global warming and Ebola by now?

The wonderful thing to see are the peaceful protests from NYC to Los Angeles. Maybe social media will help with social change.

Thanks so much for commenting.
theun4givables
Nov. 25th, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC)
I agree with you 100%. I really, and truly do.

I have been turning this over all day and it's inhibited my ability to write, and I can't figure out the right way to proceed with helping. Because I want to help and I want to tear down the system that makes this sort of thing happen. =/
penpusher
Nov. 26th, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
A friend of mine from right here in LJ land (well, not anymore, but we first crossed paths here) named chescaleigh created a YouTube video that might be useful... and you'll find that, here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dg86g-QlM0

Really Chesca's videos are pretty informative and usually pretty funny, and are worth subscribing to if you are at all inclined.

When I say I didn't want to write this essay, I really meant it! I was going to write a fun thing about my time at the Macy's Parade or my days at FAO Schwarz, since both would have fit the prompt. But as I was organizing to craft that, the verdict came in and then it was non-stop Ferguson for the rest of the evening.

I'm glad you're thinking about these issues and about how you might help. That's the way we can start to move past them. Thanks for your thoughts and comment.
(no subject) - dmousey - Nov. 26th, 2014 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
reckless_blues
Nov. 26th, 2014 06:58 am (UTC)
I can't get over how much of a farce this is. I just saw a picture of that red bit on his neck they're calling a bruise. It's a birthmark. It's called naevus flammeus nuchae, or a stork bite.
crisp_sobriety
Dec. 1st, 2014 07:21 am (UTC)
I knowwww *flails angrily*
roina_arwen
Nov. 28th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
It's definitely a sad state of affairs. Thanks for the thinkpost.
gratefuladdict
Nov. 30th, 2014 05:08 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this.
cheshire23
Dec. 1st, 2014 06:32 am (UTC)
The thing that scares me the most, reading over some of this stuff, is how Darren Wilson's testimony showed a belief that Michael Brown was, essentially, a "demon" and "it".

His actions were the actions one would take about a non-human threat. And I don't think that was just posturing on his part - I think he really believes that, and so did everyone else involved in the decision not to pursue charges.

And that is more horrifying, to me, than the death itself.
crisp_sobriety
Dec. 1st, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
I don't even have words for what is going on in the states at the moment (I'm not American). So I probably can't give this piece the response it deserves.

I'm just so angry and dumbfounded and yet, somehow, not surprised at all.
halfshellvenus
Dec. 1st, 2014 07:33 am (UTC)
This was noted as a conflict of interest before all of this even began, but it was ignored by the people who could have done something to make it fair (Governor Nixon).
There's no excuse for that, either. How will it do anything but make people angrier, and perpetuate the racial difficulties in that community?

The one obvious question that seems to be dodged is, how does obnoxiously blocking traffic or petty theft ultimately warrant a death penalty? Lethal force against someone who is not a lethal threat cannot be permitted.
lrig_rorrim
Dec. 1st, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
I keep trying to figure out how to respond to this post... and honestly I just can't. You've already said so much, and said it well.

I'll just leave this link here, for those who might wander by and find some use for it: the Ferguson masterpost: how to argue eloquently and back yourself up with facts.
inmyblueheaven
Dec. 1st, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
#1 Funny thing is that all humans are animals, and there's nothing bad about that. I mean what are we, plants? Something extra special that is just simply different from everything else in the whole entire Universe? It's arrogant to think we're anything other than animals.

#2 Not only should racism end, it never should have begun in the first place. It's rooted in cowardice.
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