I remember playing cops and robbers as a child. My friends and I would split up into teams. The good guys versus the bad guys. The good guys were the cops. I remember kids arguing to be the cops because everyone wanted to be the “good” guy. Now as an adult I must reevaluate my idea of a good guy.
Police report to the FBI killing over 400 people a year. According to a recent study outlined by occupy.com every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer or a vigilante. From 2006 to 2012 a white officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country. In 2009 police charged a black man for property damage for bleeding on their uniforms during his arrest after they beat him bloody.
On August 9th, 18 year old Mike Brown was walking to his grandmother’s house with his friend and the two of them were stopped by the police. There was a confrontation and two shots were fired from within the car and four shots were fired outside the car. One of the bullets hit Mike in the head, entering through his eye. Eyewitness accounts state that Mike Brown put his hands up and exclaimed “Don’t Shoot”; these were his final words. Mike Brown was unarmed; his body was left in the street for several hours. The police called for backup, the paramedics were never called. Mike’s body was then placed in the back of a police SUV; not an ambulance. He did not receive respect, not even in death.
In aftermath, the murder of Mike Brown sparked a brigade of protest in Ferguson. The police escalated the situation by responding with tanks, SWAT gear, and K-9s. They tear gassed the residents and shoot rubber bullets at them. The media reports brandished the protest as rioting and looting. While some looting did take place, the vast majority of the protests were peaceful. The media failed to report the citizens of Ferguson cleaning up tear gas cans the following day or the young black youth guarding shops to prevent further looting during the following peaceful protest proceedings.
Nearly a week after the murder of Mike Brown the name of the officer who pulled the trigger was released. Darren Wilson was put on paid leave because shooting an unarmed black man warrants paid vacation in this country. Following the release of the name, the police also released a surveillance video of Mike Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store in an effort to defame him. Later on the full video was discovered revealing that Mike Brown did in fact pay for the cigars and the footage was time stamped in June. This footage has absolutely nothing to do with his murder in August. Even if Mike Brown had stolen the cigars, it is not common practice to execute people for shoplifting.
It is irrelevant whether he smoked marijuana, stole cigars or even that he was planning to attend college the next week. Honestly it is heartbreaking that Mike Brown will never see a college classroom but he could have had plans to spend the rest of his life, sitting in his boxers playing PS4. He did not deserve to die because his life mattered. His life mattered to his family. His life mattered to his friends. His life mattered to the people protesting in Ferguson. His life mattered to me because it could have just as easily been me.
Some people are accusing the protestors of making this about race. They claim racism doesn’t exist in a postmodern America. Anytime there is a declaration against racial oppression or mere mention of “white” privilege we are accused of playing the “race” card. Equating the murder of a young man to a fun game of Uno or Poker is a fallacy. Marching, protesting, signing petitions, and grieving families are not a game. This is not fun. If this were a game let’s all agree that white privilege is the ultimate royal flush.
The evidence is apparent in the way black men are portrayed in the media. James Holmes the white man responsible for the Aurora Mass shooting, killed 12 people in a movie theater. He was obtained by the police without excessive force and was escorted out of the theater in handcuffs. The media talked about what a great kid he was before the incident. They ran his senior class picture and talked about how devastated his family was that he committed such a crime. James Holmes is a murderer and the media employed willful tact when portraying his story because his skin color buys him that privilege.
When a black man is a victim of murder the media goes out of their way to dig up dirt to defame the dead. Anchors and headlines speculate about the victim’s possible involvement with gangs or history of drug abuse. This was made evident after the murders of Trayvon Martin, Jonathon Ferrell and now Mike Brown whose characters were essentially put on trial after their deaths. They also use the worse picture they can find of the victim. Making the victim appear threatening or menacing in some way. The hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown has become prevalent on twitter as a means of exposing the blatantly racist portrayal of black men in the media.
What happened to Mike Brown is not an anomaly. Kimani Gray, Kendrec McDade, Timothy Russell, Ervin Jefferson, Amandou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Ousmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury Jr., Sean Bell, Orlando Barlow, Aaron Campbell, Victor Steen, Steven Eugene Washington, Alonzo Ashley, Wendell Allen, Ronald Madison, James Brisette, Travares McGill, Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Manuel Loggins Jr., Jonathon Ferrell; all gunned down by the police within the last decade. Adding another name to this already heartbreakingly long list; Kajieme Powell was gunned down by police in St. Louis, this Tuesday on August 19, 2014.
There should be consequences when the police use excessive force. Officers in Rialto California are required to wear vests outfitted with cameras while on duty. In the first year of this, police brutality has dropped 60% and complaints about excessive force have dropped 88%. There is now a petition on whitehouse.gov to make wearing cameras mandatory for local and state police across the country. Once the petition reaches 100k signatures it goes to the president.
I signed it, I want you to sign it, I want you to share it.
Thank you for your time.
With a heavy heart,
Sources and works cited below:
Police Cameras White House Petition
Bail and legal fundraising for arrested Ferguson residents here:
Help feed the students of ferguson (who are missing out on meals cos of the schools closing atm) here:
Every 28 hours a black person in the United States is killed by a police officer or vigilante
Melissa Harris Perry Black And Unarmed
Why Isn’t The Tea Party Sending Milita To Ferguson?
A Youth, an Officer and 2 Paths to a Fatal Encounter
Who Cares If Mike Brown Had Pot In His System?
We Now Know Which Police Officer Killed Mike Brown
Mike Brown’s body put in an SUV
When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims
examples from #IfTheyGunnedMeDown
First You See What The Town Looks Like. Then, See What The Cops Look Like. Then It Makes Sense.
If You Ever Thought The US Was A Land Of Equality Take A Look At These Two Screenshots
7 Things Worth More Than A black Person’s Life In America
This Officer Should’ve Been Arrested: Mike Brown Shot 6 Times
Looks like Mike Brown paid for his convenience store purchase...
Police Use Of Force Dropped 60% When Officers Were Required To Wear Video Cameras
War Zone In Ferguson Video
Raw Video: Tear Gas Canisters In Ferguson