I’m heartbroken today because watching parents bury their child is something that I will never be able to comprehend without debilitating grief and compassion.
I’m angry today because imaging what these parents have been through in the past two weeks — defending the fact that their son had a right to come away from a brief altercation with police alive is infuriating.
We all know the story now, about two weeks ago a young, unarmed man was stopped for jaywalking. He ended up with six bullets in his body – two in his head. Since then, the public has been polarized. There are two sides – and two sides only; those of us who think Michael Brown had the right to walk away from that encounter alive, and those of us who don’t.
I believe he had the right to walk away from that with his life. I believe due process is for all citizens, not just white ones. And if the behavior of the police on that day and since that day doesn’t infuriate you as an American — I really don’t know what to say. That anyone thinks it’s okay for officers to shoot an unarmed man dead from 35 feet away, not attempt to resuscitate him, not call paramedics, and let his body lay in the road for hours — a large portion of that time uncovered — is astounding. Even with his mother there, begging for them to get his body out of the street.
Police have relentlessly tried to silence the public since the shooting — by unimaginable force shown during the protests in Ferguson. Tear gassing neighborhoods and attempting to bully and silence media, especially horrifying since they knew the world was watching. They knew the world was watching and they behaved this way. Police Chief Thomas Jackson released footage of Brown allegedly shoplifting – directly implying that this was why he was stopped by the police that day, even though he knew that wasn’t the case. The officers who stopped Brown had no idea that altercation in the store had even taken place. Clearly Jackson knew planting the idea of Brown as a thug in the minds of many in America would be enough for blind support to a crooked police response. And he was right.
And Brown’s mother had to watch the whole thing unfold.
So we have a teenager who had been less than perfect in his life. Big deal. We have tons of people on the Internet defending the right of police to gun down unarmed men rather than use their training to subdue them. And we have parents who have to listen to the character of their son dragged through the mud because he happened to be big and black. It’s easier for the many to say, You don’t know the facts! then to admit that there are plenty of facts that we know, and they all point to the scenario that Brown was murdered, that the Ferguson police have not been transparent in dealing with their gross abuse of power, and that everyone is hoping this will just vanish into the past, like the rest of the unwarranted murders of black men we are piling up in this country.
Well, I for one, am sorry. I’m sorry parents are mourning amongst all of this. I’m sorry they are burying their son today, and I’m sorry a huge portion of the country believes that firing six bullets into the body of young man is a reasonable response to a mouthy teenager.
(photo: Getty Images)