Ferguson: As the World Watches

Ferguson riots

Riots have exploded in Ferguson. Picture courtesy the UK Telegraph.

Riots have rocked the nation in the case of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. Darren Wilson was a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri when he shot and killed Michael Brown, a teenager. Since Brown was African American and Wilson is white, many consider this a racial issue. Wilson shot Brown on August 9th after Wilson allegedly confronted him about a robbing of a convenience store. Some sources say Brown attacked Wilson, but some also claim Brown was fleeing when he was shot.

Starting in November, a new fire was lit as the Grand Jury decision neared. A Grand Jury is responsible for deciding if charges will be brought to trial (the accused would be indicted) or will not reach court. The Missouri National Guard was called in to safeguard the people, schools were closed weeks in advance, and more protests began. On November 24, the verdict of the Grand Jury was released: Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the death of Brown.

Since then, peaceful and not-so-peaceful protests have rippled across the nation. Some claim that this is a great injustice, while others insist that Wilson was simply doing his job. Especially in Ferguson, both sides have resorted to less peaceful confrontations, with some protestors vandalizing stores, flipping cars, and lighting houses on fire, while the police have fired tear gas into protesting crowds. In this latest scourge of riots, there have been several deaths reported already, and the toll is expected to rise before the conflict is done. We bring two perspectives on this ongoing situation, both from Tri-City students.

Devon Bonelli, a sophomore, believes that Wilson should be indicted:

Officer Wilson not being indicted was a grave mistake, yet it clearly echoes the racist ideals that Americans hold as a whole. These prejudices have been present for hundreds of years, and only recently have advances been made. As large as these bounds were, there is still much ground that needs to be made up; cases like this clearly shows that there needs to be improvement.

This case mirrors so many others of young black boys being killed by white men in towns known for their racism: Trayvon Martin in Florida, Tamir Rice in Ohio, and many more. Cases like these are numerous, and it begs the question, would the killers of these boys have been held accountable if these boys were white?

Of course they would have been. Widespread racism is still real these days. Eight shots to an eighteen-year-old is somehow seen as completely legitimate, even with autopsy and witness reports clearly supporting that Brown not only had his hands up, but was also on the ground after the first shot was fired.

A mother is now left childless, a father without his boy, and friends without their companion. If Wilson’s argument is true, why didn’t he call for backup? Why did he run after the man who he deemed as dangerous? The facts simply don’t fit together in this cover-up.

 

Amanda Bertsch, a sophomore, believes that the jury was correct in not indicting Wilson:

There has been violent protest after violent protest in conjunction with the Ferguson shooting in August. The Brown family called for peace, as did our president, but these cries have fallen on closed ears. People are dying, property is being looted, and the homes of those neutral on this issue are being burned to the ground, and for what? Those protesting in Missouri and across the nation have become so incensed over this issue that they refuse to hear the facts.

Wilson was clearly injured after the shooting. The injuries he sustained, presumably from Brown, were not as severe as originally reported, but still significant. These injuries show that Wilson was attacked and lend credibility to his account that Brown appeared to be going for Wilson’s gun. Yes, his injuries were minor; but if someone is running at you, a uniformed police officer, with a clear intent to harm you, your first thought is not to judge how much your injuries hurt or if they’ll leave a bruise in the morning. Our police are trained to utilize deadly force when they are put in danger, and by allegedly running at Wilson, Brown was putting him in danger.

Many protestors seem bent on twisting this in to a racial issue. Would Wilson have fired if a white male was running at him? Almost certainly. This was a relatively clear-cut, albeit tragic, case until race was factored in at some point after the fact. In other words, this case was not in any way a racial issue until protesters made it one. The media has since escalated the situation by covering every detail in a near celebrity fashion.

Take the case of Dillon Taylor. Ever heard of him? Likely not. But just like Michael Brown, Taylor was a young, unarmed male shot outside a convenience store in this past August. In fact, the two differed in age by only two years. However, Taylor’s case didn’t so much as make national news in much of the country. When it was ruled that the (non-white) police officer involved was justified in shooting because he felt threatened, there were no riots and no media fiascos. In other words, a grand jury decided not to indict in a case that was nearly exactly the same, confirming the Ferguson jury’s decision. The only apparent difference between the two cases? Taylor was white.

Those who continue to insist that this is a racial issue are in fact setting society back, not jumpstarting its progress. If Brown was the same race as the police officer who fired that night, would there have been an uproar such as the one occurring now? There is no indication in the actual case that Wilson acted in anything but self-defense and certainly no sign that he factored race into account when deciding if he should fire. These are the facts the jury examined, and these are the facts on which they based their decision by the laws of our country. Although the loss of Brown’s life is certainly by any accounts a tragedy, it is not the result of the actions of a corrupt white supremacist, and implying otherwise is failing to consider the facts of the situation.

 

Note from the editors: The views of students do not necessarily represent the views of the editorial staff, Denobis, or Tri-City Prep High School. By presenting both viewpoints, Denobis aims to take an unbiased approach to reporting on controversial issues.

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