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  • Andréa Agosto

After the Grand Jury Decison...


After the Grand Jury decision in the Mike Brown/Darren Wilson case resulted in no indictment for Officer Wilson, social media networks lit up…and unfortunately, so did Ferguson, MO.

As I scrolled through my newsfeed that night, I saw numerous, explicitly racist statements, photos, and shares. I was irritated, but as a person of color living in the United States, I expected a racist backlash and definitely saw it. I held my tongue until I stumbled upon the following post and responded. (People’s faces were blurred and names blacked out to protect them from any character defaming statements that they made themselves and to ensure that they will not get into any trouble with their employers.)

Yes…a White male, who was the victim of armed robbery by the hands of a Black man, was trying to draw parallels to being a Black, unarmed teenager shot to death by a police officer. A horrible situation for this man and the teenager, but the man who was robbed at gunpoint by a criminal, was spared his life while the teenager was shot multiple times by a police officer, someone who is supposed to provide support and peace in the community. Apples and oranges, my friend.

My comment and subsequent comments made by a fellow friend who agreed with me were later deleted, as we didn't side with him or his point of view.

The outrage of the decision brought up instances where people felt that black peoples' were worth less than a dog.

The city of Ferguson erupted in riots; business owners' hard work were now shattered glass and tears, all right before the the holiday.

The riots have confused people who are not participating in them, having them question why anyone would want to destroy their own community. While I feel for those who have lost their businesses and their livelihoods, I also feel for those protesting as they are doing so out of anger, and fear, fear that their lives do not matter. Peaceful protest is not easy and requires a lot of time to incite change and sometimes, people take the easy way, retalliation, in order to get results and have their voices heard.

On the topic of riots, Martin Luther King, Jr. had this to say:

I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.

This is what is happening in Ferguson, Oakland and across the nation. People are tired and want a change.

What is interesting about riots in this country is media coverage. Ferguson has many networks covering the situation from various spots, but while people were rioting when the San Francisco Giants won, there wasn't any live stream, no 24 hours a day feed from CNN and less outrage and less labling of people as "animals." In riots where the majority of those involved are Black, the term "animals" is often used to describe them, to describe my people. I believe that one of the reasons for the large amount of media coverage in Ferguson has a lot to do with assuaging guilt, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said. The mentality being that it was more than acceptable to not indict Darren Wilson, look at how "uncivilized" Ferguson residents are behaving.

There are then those bleeding hearts who say that they do not see race and that we are all the same. Yes, we are all human, but our societies treat us very differently depending on the color of your skin.

Our system is inherently racist; it gives advantages to Whites and disadvantages to people of color. That's the way it is and has been for a very long time. Because of the racism that is implicitly embeded in our everyday interactions, sterotypes become an unfortunate source for truth. Black men are perceived a threats or possible criminals, and therefore it is much easier and more common for police to target them and not see them as a person, but as a stereotype. This is quickly leading to the dehumanization of Black people and other minorities, and that can potentially lead to an increase in violence and arrests towards them.

The issue considering the Mike Brown/Darren Wilson case, is that not only was it a use of excessive force, but it was done so against a person from a marginalized group. You have to examine the use of excessive force happening across the country as well as the majority of people affected by that excessive use of force; right now, Blacks and Hispanics or Latin@s are primary targets for police brutality. These groups are often stereotyped and perceived as threats or people that engage in illegal activity. This preconceived notion, albeit racist, impacts judgments from everyone, not just police officers. However, police officers have sworn to protect the community and the community generally will have people of various races and ethnic backgrounds. They deserve to be protected and valued too.

If a police officer is unable to separate a stereotype from a person, there's a problem. Racial profiling practices like stop-and-frisk, or tailing a minority, are common and not very fruitful when bringing criminals to justice because, believe it or not, most people of color are not criminals.

I know that many people have wondered why and how this became a race issue; this incident is but one out of many that occur daily in this country. Unarmed Black men under the age of 21 are more than twice as likely to be killed by a police officer than unarmed White men under 21. The fact that unarmed men are being killed is devastating, but it's interesting to note that Blacks are being kill at more than double their White counterparts. Still, the issue of police brutality and excessive force should be something all civilians rally against.

Ferguson Response National Network

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