Let’s be clear. Arresting the officer who killed Michael Brown is not justice. Sure, it’s a pound of flesh…but you gotta rip that flesh from an 800-kb gorilla.
There is no such thing as justice for the family of Michael Brown. Prosecuting the officer who shot him is a necessary but arguably punitive measure that may bring about satisfaction or a sense of fairness but should certainly not be mistaken for justice because justice presupposes a sense of moral rightness. And in a place like Ferguson, MO…that just ain’t gonna be possible for everybody just by arresting one trigger happy cop.
The 1990 census reports that blacks made up 25% of the population of Ferguson. By 2010, just 30 years later, that demographic grew to 67%. Yet, all the powers-that-be in Ferguson remain white. The mayor’s white, the chief of police is white, six out of seven city council members are white (that other one is Latino,) 6 outta 7 school board members are white (the other one IS black…so make a wish!) and all but three members of 53-member police department are white.
The last time I saw that much white, I was at a snow-covered ski resort in Liechtenstein on a polar bear rug eating mayonnaise on Wonder Bread with the NFL Wives’ Club. Oh yeah…or apartheid. I also saw it in apartheid. [uncomfortable silence]
The cop in question is a pawn in an entire system that oppresses black folks in Ferguson. And black folks have been playing along. The power structure will try to close ranks around him but make no mistake, he is nothing but a speed bump on the road to pacifying a people who contribute the majority of the economic base yet do not exercise or have the ability to exercise (the jury is still out…but the jury is prolly all white, too) a voice in how they are governed and who will govern them.
Black folks in Ferguson, and many towns across America that look like Ferguson, have been living under this 800-lb gorilla for the last 30 years. And by “living with” I mean, “oppressed by.” And truthfully, oppression is as a deadly as a gun. Certainly, the criminal act of murder must be prosecuted and punished. But sitting that cop in jail and returning to business as usual is not justice. Justice for the community of Ferguson requires an insistence by the people that they be governed and policed by qualified people who look like them AND have as an agenda the best interest of a diversified community. Otherwise, that community risks becoming a killing field for anyone…ANYONE…who is feared or misunderstood. Death by gunshot, death by missed opportunity, death by lack of resources, death by an unsuitable education. (Damn…ok, that’s kinda dramatic…but I’ma leave it in cuz I kinda need this point made)
Without this change at this point, there can simply never be justice for the people of Ferguson.
Got that, Al Sharpton?