By Cody Shafer
I’m going to admit right here at the front that I’m not going to be very articulate or even rational. I’m not even going to pretend to be, because I think it’s justified to get a little angry once in a while. I’m angry because so many people are using rationalizations and logic to conjure up a scenario where it’s okay for a police officer to kill a man and then it’s okay for the state to not bother with the whole justice thing.
Because that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about Ferguson. Yes, we also talk about race, oppression, crime, gun rights, protesting, and police brutality. But the reason people are angry about Ferguson is because a street-level bureaucrat killed someone, and he doesn’t even have to deal with any legal consequences. The rules were skewed so far in his favor that there isn’t even a game.
What do you do when the system fails you? Think about it. Think about someone you love, and think about them getting killed, for whatever reason, and then think about your next step. You have the justice system to sort out whether or not a crime was committed. Not in Michael Brown’s case. We don’t get to examine the evidence properly, because it didn’t even make it that far.
Earlier this year a bunch of angry white folks staged protests to demand their right to carry guns doesn’t get trampled by the government. This week, a 12-year-old black boy was killed in seconds after police saw him with a fake gun in an open-carry state. Where are the angry white folks now? What would have happened if police met the gun lobby with the same force they met the Ferguson protesters? What would have happened if they shot a single canister of tear gas into a gun rally?
I already feel the tension in my mind as I write this, and the tunnel vision of fury and injustice. Remember when the stupid Tea Party threatened revolution so many times over so many stupid things? It wasn’t that long ago. They claimed the government was out of control and totalitarian. Communism. Health care. Guns. Fiscal responsibility. Taxes. Now that a real revolution is rumbling, they’ve taken off their stupid hats because they’re shocked that they weren’t the ones oppressed. They quit their whining about a tyrannical state enforcing unjust laws at gunpoint, because when they finally witnessed it they realized they weren’t the ones staring down the barrel.
Ferguson is burning because to so many Americans, liberty and justice for all is a goddamn myth.
So what if Michael Brown punched Darren Wilson? We don’t have a systemic problem of black men punching white police officers. We do live in a society where black men fear the police, because too often they will get shot dead for standing in the wrong place. Yes, I know that serving in law enforcement is risky. But I’d rather see one thousand white police officers with big fat bruises on their faces than another dead black kid at the hands of a trigger happy rookie.
Just remember, the protests right now are happening because people in government let the state kill someone, and they decided it wasn’t worth looking into any further. All the pieces we’re arguing about right now are irrelevant, because it will never be presented in front of a judge and a jury. Michael Brown never had anyone from the state to speak on his behalf. His family never had a chance for justice, whether it was deserved or not. We should all be angry, whether or not we think Darren Wilson was justified, whether or not we’d be out on the streets protesting. Because people in power stood in the way of justice. And nobody is surprised.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful I’m not in America. I won’t be gone forever, but some distance will do some good, I think. Get your shit together.