It’s been at least seven months since the image of Micheal Brown’s body lying in the middle of the street on one August afternoon flooded television, computer and phone screens across America. It’s been five months since rioting filled streets across the nation as the thousands of people showed their unhappiness on the lack of indictment against the white officer who shot him.
Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American male, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson Police Department. Brown was stopped according to Wilson, due to the fact that he was walking in the middle of the street before the officer allegedly recognized the young man for allegedly stealing cigarillos from a nearby convenience store. While Wilson was later tried for the shooting, he was found not guilty.
So with Brown now buried, Wilson cleared of all charges, and a nation in a continuous state of unease, where do we go from here?
Unfortunately, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice shows us that this unfortunate incident has been in the making for years. The gross incompetence shown in the report from members of the Ferguson Police Department has added a strain on the already tense relationship between the police and those in the urban community. No, I’m not saying that the fault is on all police in the nation and no I’m not saying that they’re the “be all, end all.”
However, when you show a clear and concise interest in a racial demographic that makes up 67 percent of the city (2/3 of the population is African-American), have a 54-member police force with three of those officers being African-American, and show a track record of blatant, law-breaking racism, it’s time for the nation to wake up and take notice.
The report found several interesting facts while conducting their investigation, according to the Associated Press, which included talking to city and court officials, citizens and members of Ferguson’s own police department. They reviewed court and police data, observed the courts and rode along with officers.
Evidence against the police include data that showed that almost 90 percent of documented force was used against blacks, that police have made arrests for talking back to officers, recording officer activities (which is a constitutional right), and that African-Americans were more likely to be searched during a traffic stop despite the fact that contraband is found 26 less off often than on white drivers.
The AP goes on to report that 93 of all arrests and 85 percent of all stops involved African-Americans during the time frame between 2012 and 2014.
Evidence found in the report shows that the courts were just as tainted.
It found that African-Americans are 98 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed, they represented 92 percent of cases where an arrest warrant was issued in 2013, courts often set large bail amounts that were deemed unreasonable, and that city officials would often fix tickets for their family and friends.
Throw in a few racist jokes from officers and city staff, who’ve since been fired or have resigned, and you find yourself with a line drawn in the sand that is reminiscent of the lines from the South’s Jim Crow Era. A line that even a complete overhaul of the city’s judicial system by a Missouri appellate judge can’t erase.
Perhaps with the recent removal of the Police Chief Tom Jackson, who we can clearly say handled the situation and its following inappropriately, or the threatening of the city manager’s employment, something can change by cutting off the snakes head but it’s doubted.
With all that information out in the open now you have to understand that the world is watching the interactions between police and African-American citizens. They’re watching to see if the trend of shooting the little black boy continues. They’re watching to see how much more will be explained in a report filled with hundreds of pages that show we’ve not been as progressive as we thought despite the commander in chief being an African-American male. They’re watching to see exactly how much an elite few can get away with before they have to answer to other world leaders who say “that’s enough.”
With all that being said there is also a sense of accountability lost on some. No, it is never O.K. to kill a man, but stealing and making illegal sales is bad as well.
The bottom line is that the incident has shown us that we need to speak up when we see someone, anyone, being disenfranchised. And that the racism that is spewed from keyboards in homes of those who don’t want to sign their real names showed us that we should be very vocal about that disenfranchisement.
The #Blacklivesmatter culture will remain as long as it’s perceived that African-Americans don’t matter, aren’t productive citizens to society, create and maintain crime, and are the downfall of America. At this point Ferguson is no longer about racism. It is about all of those who are disenfranchised with or without the data or a report from the Department of Justice. It is about sexism, genderism, religion and other factor that makes up any minority. It’s not just about the teenage African-American boy anymore, but the teenage female Goth, the young adult white drag queen, and the recent college graduate who can’t find a job.
So for those asking when the #Blacklivesmatter movement will stop, it won’t. It will never stop as long as injustices like the ones above are allowed against the parties above. Which is why the #Blacklivesmatter movement, still matters.
I’m just saying.