What if Mike Brown was your child? How would you feel? What if your child was unarmed, murdered & left for dead in the street, uncovered, for up to 4 hours? What if you weren’t even given the name of your child’s murderer or witnessed the character assassination of your child all over the news? How would that make you feel?
Today the body of Michael Brown Jr. was laid to rest near St. Louis, Missouri. For more than 2 weeks, protestors & people around the world have shown their disgust & disagreement with how Officer Darren Wilson handled the entire situation.
This affects me personally because as an African American, I understand the systemic forces this country exercises against people of color (particularly people of my color). Time & time again we have seen young unarmed African American men get shot down by White officers, resulting in little to no justice. It hurts to think that in 2014 you can lose your life just because of the color of your skin.
But Mike Brown was a criminal – didn’t he just steal from a local convenience store? Since when does petty theft, “strong-arming” someone or even jay-walking mean your life should be taken? It doesn’t. Mike Brown was not yielding a weapon, aggravating the police or was given the opportunity to defend himself before being murdered in the middle of the street. Whether or not these young men have children out of wedlock, dropped out of school or have even committed crimes – none of that merits being gunned down in cold blood.
This is not a Black/White issue; why is everybody making this about race? Because it is. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, from 2006 – 2012 a White police officer has killed an African American at least twice a week in this country. African Americans are almost twice as likely to be killed by police as cops are likely to be murdered in the line of duty. How is that not racially profiling? Simply put, police kill African Americans more frequently than you may realize.
I watch the news. I see how much crime they commit. African Americans are more likely to get caught, arrested, and jailed for longer periods of time than their White counterparts for the same crime. The Human Rights Watch has found that people of color are not any more likely to use or sell drugs than white people, yet they have a significantly higher rate of arrests. African American citizens encompass 14% of regular drug users but are 37% of those who are arrested for drug crimes. Same crime, but a harsher punishment. How is this our fault? Not to mention that the media paints a bad picture of African Americans in general. How is that when African Americans break into stores & take things out of protest it’s called “looting”, but when the news is talking about the Iraqi’s doing the same thing (as in ISIS), it’s called “marauding”? What’s the difference? The difference is that one term is used to portray African Americans negatively. And that’s where the misperceptions begin – people watch the television & think African Americans are savages because they are speaking out. But they’re really not – they are just fed up!
Let’s take a look at some of the lives of African American men we’ve lost over the past 15 years. What do all these young men have in common? They all died at the hands of White cops, unarmed:
- Amadou Diallo – Four New York City police officers were acquitted of all charges in the death of Amadou Diallo. He was shot 41 times as he stood, unarmed, in the vestibule of his apartment building in the Bronx. (2000)
- Patrick Dorismond was a security guard & father of two who was killed by an undercover New York Police Department officer. The undercover police officer approached Dorismond and his friend as they were standing outside of a lounge and asked him where he and his partners could purchase marijuana. Although Dorismond declared he was not a drug dealer he was shot to death. He was only 26. (2000)
- Timothy Stansbury – There was no warning & the police didn’t even identify themselves. Stansbury was shot in the chest and staggered, bleeding, down five flights of stairs to the building’s lobby where he collapsed. Even the police commissioner held an immediate press conference to acknowledge that “there appears to be no justification for the shooting.” (2004)
- Sean Bell – Undercover cops fired at least 50 rounds of bullets into a car carrying Sean Bell and two of his friends as they left his bachelor party. The police fired 31 times, emptying two full magazines. Bell was shot in the neck, shoulder and right arm and died at the hospital. He was only 23. (2006)
- Oscar Grant –Ever hear of the movie ‘Fruitvale Station’? Grant was fatally shot in the back by a transit officer at an Oakland train station on New Year’s Day 2009. The now-former transit officer admits he mistakenly used his service revolver when he meant to grab his taser. A criminal court jury convicted the transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 but completely acquitted him of murder. He was released in 2011 – that’s right, he only served 1 year for killing an unarmed young man. Grant was only 22.
- Kendrec McDade – A 19 years old & unarmed, he was killed in a shooting by Pasadena, CA police. A 911 caller falsely reported that two men with guns had stolen a backpack from his car. As police chased and fired several shots, some from close range. The Los Angeles County District Attorney cleared the officers of any criminal wrongdoing. (2012)
- Ramarley Graham – 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was leaving a Bronx bodega with his friends, when he was followed by members of the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the NYPD. Footage from his home’s surveillance camera shows that Ramarley approached the door of his house, unlocked it and walked inside. Multiple officers swarmed the house, entering through the back without a warrant and letting others in through the front. He was followed upstairs and into his bathroom, where he was shot in the chest. No weapon was ever found. (2012)
- Jordan Davis was gunned down by citizen Michael Dunn recklessly as he shot into a car full of African American teens after complaining about the volume of their music in a convenience store parking lot. Three of his 10 shots struck Davis, killing him right away. Davis was only 17. (2012)
- Trayvon Martin – a 17 year old Floridian was fatally shot & killed while holding a bag of skittles & wearing a hoodie. He was gunned down by a neighborhood watch volunteer, who was acquitted of all charges. (2012)
- Jonathan Ferrel – Ferrell, was working two retail jobs and had recently moved to the Charlotte area. Mr. Ferrell was dropping off a work colleague and drove down an embankment. The car was so damaged he had to kick out the rear window to free himself. Unable to find his cellphone, he stumbled to the first house he found and knocked. Inside, a white woman home alone with her infant daughter panicked and called 911. A Black man, she said, was trying to break in. Three officers arrived & one fired a Taser, which missed its target. Then 12 shots were fired, 10 of which hit Mr. Ferrell. Autopsy results included in the lawsuit show the bullets entered his body and traveled downward, which supports that Mr. Ferrell was already on his knees or lying on the ground when he was shot. Officers then handcuffed him after he was already dead. He was only 24 years old (2013)
- Seventeen year-old Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat in a South Georgia high school in January, 2013. The school has tried to cover up his death & the circumstances surrounding this tragedy are still unanswered.
- Eric Garner – a married father of six, was murdered after a New York City police officer put him in an illegal chokehold. He repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe & and the medics weren’t called for several minutes. Once they arrived, they took no action to save Garner’s life. Eric Garner was unarmed. (2014)
- Ezell Ford – a 25 year old mentally challenged man was shot and killed in Los Angeles while lying on the ground. He was unarmed. He was only blocks away from his home when officers stopped him. Police claim that it was an “investigative stop” but have not stated why Ford was being investigated. (2014)
- Unarmed Michael Brown Jr. was killed after being shot 6 times because he was walking in the street, “blocking traffic.” Brown was a recent high school graduate and was scheduled to start classes at a Missouri trade school, just two days after he was killed. He was only 18 years old.
No parent should EVER have to bury their child. This has got to stop! If you want to be a part of the movement, contact your state Senator and tell them you want a more diverse police force & better trained officers in your area. If you’re not registered to vote, click here to register so you can vote the best officials into office. This November make sure that you vote for the people who you feel would best represent your community – NOT just you.
No one deserves to be gunned down for the color of your skin. Speak out now; Michael Brown Jr. could’ve been your child.