The state prosecutor, Bob McColloch, did a fantastic job of blaming social media, the news cycle, and the victim Mike Brown himself, for everything that happened to Brown. The one person he didn’t blame was the man who actually pulled the trigger, Darren Wilson. If you look through civil rights history, you’ll see many dummy trials in which the appearance of justice is there, but everyone knows–including the black victim, if he’s alive–that it’s a farce.
McColloch made his one man play complete when, instead of just reading the verdict, he decided to lecture the viewing audience, the protesters, and the family as to “what really went down.” He was patronizing, condescending, and oozing racial prejudice. As others have said, racism and prejudice don’t just wear white hoods. They also wear suits and ties.
Waiting until the cover of darkness to anger the populace and send those who are most prone to violence into action with the verdict was also something that reminded me of stories from the civil rights movement when people would do their evil-doing at night. Instead of burning crosses and lynching people, the evil-doing that was done last night was subverting the justice system for racist, horrifying ends and basically egging on those who are prone to riot to destroy their own city.
So now that we are a couple of hours removed from the verdict, how can we make sense of this? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I have some takeaways.
It’s necessary to get Bob McColloch voted out. From how he handled this case, it would seem he doesn’t value the gravity of the situation he was entrusted with. A boy’s life was taken by a man. That’s the issue here. But McColloch took a much more nefarious route and I think his seat is ripe for the voting. It’s almost like he wanted to tear Ferguson apart. The way he set up his press conference was using a knife to tear a wound, and then vindictively rub salt and lemon juice in it.
Gov. Jay Nixon is spineless and also needs to be voted out. At the end of the day, the buck stops with the governor. He had much more power than the chose to use, like appointing a special prosecutor since McColloch is biased (much of his family works or has worked for the Ferguson PD and his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty). But instead, he didn’t have the internal fortitude or understanding (or probably even empathy) to properly handle this crisis. So that’s two people to vote out.
Darren Wilson clearly wasn’t hurt that badly, if we’re going by how he looks on those official photos. But more on that here, since Twitter decided to dig in to that particular point of the case.
Rioting and looting is frowned upon, but there’s a real anger behind the actions that should be properly dealt with. Look, I think most people can say that burning your community’s buildings is terrible. Who would dispute that? But something that does get lost in the conversation is something Young Activists United director Rasheen Aldridge succinctly stated in his interview with Andrea Mitchell–the reason for the anger fueling the riots.
Martin Luther King is quoted as saying, “Riots are the language of the unheard.” Riots happen when people feel like they have no other recourse. Their anger hasn’t been heard, understood or respected. They haven’t been validated as people. They can’t trust those who are supposed to protect them. So since they can’t talk to anyone or turn to anyone had feel like they have no one who hears them, they decide to take out their aggression on the easiest target–themselves. As Tamron Hall said this morning, it’s akin to someone cutting themselves–they feel so bad about a situation, but no one will hear them, so they release anger in some of the most destructive and horrible ways possible.
But, what do you do when someone is so depressed that they become self-harming? You show them more productive ways to deal with anger. So that’s what has to happen with those people who are so mad that they’ll burn down their town. You have to show them, somehow, that there’s (as Rev. Al Sharpton said in today’s press conference) a much more constructive way to handle aggression.
There is still hope. Believe it or not, all isn’t lost. What has happened is, of course, one of the lowest points in American history, but when you go as low as you can go, the only place you can go is up.
I feel that a big change is coming. I wrote as much on Twitter. Some of that change has already come to pass with people of all races marching and protesting on behalf of Michael Brown and all black and brown people who have been marginalized and persecuted by the police and the racist-minded. Thankfully, some families, such as Jordan Davis’s family, have seen justice handed to them. But, as ew have seen, there’s still a horrible undercurrent in America when it comes to race.
We as Americans have finally seen just how ugly and disgusting and self-loathing America can be. Now that everyone has seen this side of America with its problems fully exposed, people can now work towards fixing this and making this place a better country for everyone.
Map of Twitter explosion before and during verdict announcement. Credit: Daily Kos