By now you know the officer who shot Micheal Brown, Jr. was not indicted.
How could he have been when the law is written in such a way that allows for the broadest interpretation of reasonable imminent threat? Meaning that officer Wilson was free to shoot to kill because he reasonably believed Michael Jr. posed a threat to his life even though the teen was unarmed.
I have never been a police officer and never involved in police work, so I can’t say what it’s like in a time of heightened danger where you’re facing a having to take a life in order to save your own. I imagine it’s heart stopping fear wondering if you’re going to make it home to your family. However, where is the reasonable danger to you when you are the one who is armed? When you are the one brandishing a loaded weapon? Where’s the threat when you’re armed, it’s broad daylight and your opponent is running away?
Police officers are an integral part of our community and serve a vital role in maintaining order and protecting us as citizens. As such we are to support them and make every effort to keep them safe while they keep us safe. The problem is when the law – as it does now – dismisses the protection of citizens in favor of the protection of law enforcement. Isn’t there a better balance? Isn’t there a way to reasonably protect the lives of officers without sacrificing the lives of young men of color? Don’t their lives have value as well? Are there not mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends whose hearts would be shattered if they should lose their lives? Or is the life of a poor kid of color so worthless that there shouldn’t be anyone to mourn for him?
I was slapped in the face today by someone’s angry Facebook rant towards those who had the nerve to seek justice for Michael Brown, Jr.: a thief, the person exclaimed. While we can debate the veracity of that video released by the Ferguson police department, that doesn’t get at the heart of this issue. It doesn’t get the point this person is missing. Whether or not he had taken those cigarillos did not warrant being gunned down like an animal. I’m sorry, not like an animal. PETA would never stand for it. So why should we as human beings place any less value on another human life?
Because he did a stupid thing that he would have likely learned a lesson from had he not been killed? Because making a mistake at 18 means that his path was set for life with no chance for redemption? How many of us now productive members of society would have carried a vastly different legacy if our lives had been cut down in our teens or young adulthood? Who knows what contributions Michael Brown, Jr. would have made to this world? What husband he would have been? What child he would have guided and raised? What changes he would have made to his community? What productive member of society he would have become?
We don’t know because he was never given the chance because of a system that’s broken. A system that tolerates an officer refusing to carry a taser because it’s bulky and uncomfortable. When that same bulky and uncomfortable Taser could have meant doing his job without taking a life.
The allowance of excessive force when an officer reasonably believes his life is in immediate danger is flawed. It’s like using one permission slip for every single school trip when your parents only meant it for the trip to the planetarium last month. Shoot to kill should not be a blanket permission slip. You can’t be free and clear to shoot someone who is unharmed and moving away from you. There’s zero logic in that.
Our system is broken. It’s broken. And until we make systemic changes we won’t ever get justice for Michael Brown, Jr. or any other ones that came before him, or any who will inevitably come after him.
And I have to tell you, I just don’t have any more tears in me to cry for another life that doesn’t need to be lost. And I don’t have any more ways to encourage my 21-year-old brother that he matters in this country. That all our brothers by blood matter. And that all the boys who look like him but are not related to him matter. I don’t have it in me anymore to have to tell him he’s too young to give up on change. That he’s too young to accept defeat and to accept things as they are.
If we don’t change this system, older sisters like me, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, girlfriends and wives will start to run out of excues to justify this country’s (OUR country’s) treatment of black men.