Another White Man For Justice…

What a horrible week or two for the nation’s Black men. More horrible than the week before for Black men? I don’t know. Why? Generally it doesn’t get this far, so I don’t hear about it. “A Black man here, a Black man there, what’s the difference?”, it seems like the media says.

I knew that Black men and women had lost some of the gains that they had made post-Civil Rights movement. I didn’t realize we’d gone back to 1954. How does an all-White or nearly all-White police force work in an urban area. How does a predominantly White grand jury get convened after two weeks of violence? How does a White policeman who even allegedly shot an unarmed teen still walk the streets? Why does the Attorney General of the United States have to go down to Ferguson in order to get the ball rolling toward justice? Why are there no public documents that contain real information? How does a unit of policemen get broken up due to racist leanings and nobody follows through? In short, what on earth is going on down there?

Then there’s the phone video of another Black man being shot by White officers which contradicts the police report. The dead man seemed to have problems, but he does not seem to be a threat to two people with a gun. But even so, when did perjury become an acceptable thing?

My friend Barbara Marsden posted an article on Facebook about “What White People Can Do About Ferguson”. It’s a good article with some suggestions and I recommend it. I may give money to the United Negro College Fund, or join the NAACP or support the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mostly, I want my Black brothers and sisters to know this: This shooting of young Black men by police has to stop. I don’t like seeing films of water cannons being used on crowds. I like real cannon type-things driving down the streets of Ferguson or anywhere in America even less when people stand up for their rights.

I’d feel like an idiot wearing a “don’t shoot” shirt or raising my hands in solidarity, because I am not the person on the wrong end of a gun. But here’s what I am going to do: anything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I am going to do anything I can to support justice in Ferguson. I will not be violent, in honor of Martin Luther King, one of the greatest Black men (or men in general) this country has ever produced. You tell me what you want me to do, and I will do what I can. Things should never have gotten this bad, and they should never get this bad again.

I suspect I’m not alone in this, but in case you haven’t heard it, I am another White man for racial justice.




9 thoughts on “Another White Man For Justice…

  1. How does a White policeman who even allegedly shot an unarmed teen still walk the streets?

    If, God forbid you were involved in something like this and 3 people said they saw you shoot an unarmed man but 3 others said that it wasn’t you or that you did it but it was fully in self defense. Guess what…you wouldn’t be arrested. The prosecution would not bring charges in a case they can’t win. That’s how the system works. It has nothing to do with him being white OR him being a cop.

    You keep saying you want justice, but that doesn’t appear to be what you want. You want the cop to be arrested and tried no matter what to appease the distrust that exists in Ferguson. Those two things aren’t the same.

    If it is true that the cop sustained serious facial injuries and that Brown walked away but then came back at him (having already beaten him), then the cop was fully justified in the shooting and shouldn’t be arrested or tried. He should only be arrested if he committed a crime.

    Right now, this is ALL JUST SPECULATION…and they can’t just arrest him on speculation, hearsay or conjecture. If they could do that, I would be screaming about civil rights violations all the time because people would be arrested and charged a lot more!

    Talk about giving police more power. At least they are restrained by having to have a case before they arrest and try someone!

    1. Sean: I disagree. If there was somebody dead, and 3 people say I did it, 3 say I didn’t, I’m still arraigned, particularly if the three on my side are my friends. The idea that the police have a suspect in a murder, with three witnesses, but the person’s walking the streets is absurd. I’m sure there is a process by which an officer who fired a weapon has to at least be sat down and talked to. The police didn’t say even that for awhile, indicating that there would be no process or progress toward justice at all — thus the “riots”.

      I don’t want a hanging in the town square, I want to know how this happened so that it doesn’t happen again. If the man did it, then he should serve his time like anybody else. If not, he should be exonerated, and we should find the person that did kill the man. I also want the people in charge to be looked at. Was there something in their training that said this had to happen? It’s a systemic issue and I’d like the whole system to be looked at. What I would most prefer is a Truth Commission kind of thing where we get all the truth and figure out how not to do this again. When I say “justice”, I mean “justice”, not vengeance. What kind of “justice” the family wants is up to them, though.

      You said: “You keep saying you want justice, but that doesn’t appear to be what you want. You want the cop to be arrested and tried no matter what to appease the distrust that exists in Ferguson. Those two things aren’t the same.” In fact, they are — especially if the man did it. I don’t want an innocent man convicted, but I think it’s reasonable to LOOK at their suspect. If he’s not guilty, I want to know that as well.

      And the videotaped/phone thing somewhere else that I mentioned? The fact that THAT could happen and the police could attempt to hide it from their superiors plays into this, as well. Knowing that such a thing can happen — and frequently does — tends to taint your view of police. Rodney King? Trayvon Martin? The tensions are there. It’s not unlikely that the policeman did it. The authorities in Ferguson need to take this seriously. Transparency in the process is important here, as a way of restoring trust. There is, to say the least, a lot of things that seem “off” about this whole thing.

      I believe in the rule of law, but for the folks in Ferguson, even that is under suspicion — and rightly so. We need to fix this so that the people of the community there can trust that the law works for them as well.



  2. Trayvon Martin is another case where conclusions were jumped to. I get that you believe even after acquittal that Zimmerman did it, but the evidence pointed to Trayvon sitting on top of Zimmerman reigning blows down MMA style, but that wasn’t enough for people because it was a “white” man killing a black man. In spite of the fact that everything from Zimmerman’s past suggested he was sympathetic to people of color. That didn’t matter…he must be racist because he supposedly followed after the 911 operator told him not to…even though he didn’t.

    But at least the Trayvon case was based on a law that you could arguably disagree with…stand your ground. But this is a cop, beaten and the shoots the suspect…that’s completely different.

    It’s not 3 of his friends that said that…if this were just cops saying this I would agree with you because they might be protecting their own. But there are multiple other witnesses that corroborate the cops story. There is also a video where the person on the video says that he “kept coming at the cop. All that means they can’t necessarily charge the cop. Do you have ANY evidence to suggest the police have not interviewed Wilson multiple times? That sort of thing doesn’t make the news.

    If we don’t have all the facts in this case, there is NO WAY you can call for arrest. If this is a case of the thin blue line I will eat my words, but we actually have Michael Brown on video, robbing and assaulting a store owner 15 minutes before the incident with the police…but you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but give the police officer none of that.

    How many times do we have to jump to these conclusions – Duke Rape Case, Tawana Brawley before we wait to condemn people until all the facts are in?

    1. Sean:

      Re: the Martin case — Martin was acting in self-defense when what he perceived was a pervert chasing him. I don’t know anything about “Zimmerman’s past suggesting he was sympathetic to people of color”. Trayvon is dead. Zimmerman is selling memorabilia. Both Martin and Zimmerman could have avoided the situation, perhaps, but there should have been no situation. Skittles don’t look like a gun unless you think they do. Re: “stand your ground” — I don’t agree with it, because I don’t condone deadly force. Still, you failed to mention the woman who was arrested and possibly convicted for shooting her gun in the air when her husband was on the premises trying to kill her. She’s Black and she was charged with attempted murder. She did less and was accused of more — not at all uncommon in our society, sadly.

      Now, regarding the Ferguson case: I have not been actively involved in racial matters for a long time, but — as often the case — I wait til I can’t stand it anymore. When a grand jury was convened, and it was majority White, that was when I had to speak up. If this never comes to trial or gets processed in some way, the gaping wounds of the community will be left open and it’s a matter of time before they flare up again. There are sooooo many pieces to this case I had to process them all just to clear my head. To say the system
      hasn’t been very culturally sensitive would be the understatement of the year. The department doesn’t show documentation, the department won’t release the name of the office allegedly involved, but then posts video of Brown stealing from a store which they admit had nothing to do with the case. the department sends in militarized police, there is nobody on the force that’s African-American who will stand up for the officer, so they have to bring in a State Policeman to calm the crowd. the majority White grand jury, the arrested press, and the video I put on Facebook this evening (taken in Michael Brown’s neighborhood!) with one kid and a basketball being facing 40 or 50 armed military and police troops. In Tieneman Square, he would be a hero. Here, he’s a criminal. I don’t know if the officer “did it” or not, but there’s enough here to give an already poor and besieged bunch of citizens a serious distrust of the system. I am neither and it gives me pause. The police department and government have not handled this well when they could have been more aware of the issue. Zimmerman was, finally arraigned. That this cop is still walking around free is amazing to me. I will, nonetheless agree that you more about the case than I do. Even if the officer was “justified” by the legal system, someone needs to stand up for the civil rights of the folks who live this out daily. I’m a thousand miles away, but I had to speak up so my friends here would know that I take THEM seriously as well. I believe that you, as a White Man are also for “justice” and against racism. It’s about Michael Brown’s shooting, but it’s about so much more…



  3. As to Zimmerman:

    He is a democrat and voted for Obama
    He and a black friend opened up an insurance office in a Florida.
    He’d engaged in notably un-racist behavior such as taking a black girl to his high-school prom
    Not only does he have black relatives, he donated his time to tutor black children.
    He launched a campaign to help a homeless black man who was beaten up by a white kid.

    This was largely unreported at the time, but it was reported in UK newspapers who bothered to scratch the surface.

    This is about so much more, but we can’t look at it through a white guilt lens anymore than someone should look at it through a racist lens.

    As noted, even if there IS systemic racial tensions in Ferguson, you can’t broad stroke this because Officer Wilson’s life is also on the line. John, this sort of thinking is EXACTLY what leads to the Duke Rape Case and Tawana Brawley. Each case has to be handled distinctly or there is no way to achieve justice.

    Here’s where I will agree with you. The police handled the aftermath poorly. So did the government in general. I am also pretty sketchy about the militarization of police. Images like you sent after the fact are shocking. The thing is, if we started rioting and looting in Boston, that same military style police unit would show up to deal with us too.

    If we are truly to end racism, we have to find common ground, not look for the divisions. We have to resist jumping to conclusions and see people as just people…warts and all.

    1. Sean:
      Thanks for the info on Zimmerman. I stand corrected. American press covered his scandal with his wife, some gun charges thing, etc.

      Re: ” this is about so much more, but we can’t look at it through a white guilt lens anymore than someone should look at it through a racist lens”. I am glad you acknowledge it’s about so much more. I am not looking at it from a “White guilt” perspective. I don’t want to let the kid off if he’s at fault, but I have trouble believing it took six shots from the back to bring down an unarmed man — any unarmed man.

      I’m glad we agree on the mishandling of it all. You may be right about the way police do handle things in Boston, but that doesn’t make it right in either place… another topic for another time.

      I agree we shouldn’t “jump to conclusions”, but this really isn’t Tawana Brawley. She was a sick girl. The Duke rape case is a good example, but I’m not remembering all the details there.

      The thing with situations like this is you never know which things are going to “take”/catch om and which aren’t. I understand that the officer here is caught up in all of this, but it’s not really about him anymore. It’s like a parable of what’s gone wrong in America for many African-Americans, and we all need to hear the story to learn the lesson. I’m sure Michael Brown’s parents wouldn’t want the wrong person going to jail, and it’s more than a parable to them. But I am not responding to this out of White guilt because of slavery or any such thing. I don’t think we owe Blacks anything but the same rights everyone else has. I am responding to this as an American who doesn’t want to see past progress be lost for other Americans. I’d hate to think the civil rights movement was for nothing or has to happen again.

      But here’s the thing: I am not “looking for divisions”, any more than I think the people of Ferguson are. I think the divisions are already there. I see them, but that’s not the same as looking for them. I would like for there to be common ground and fairness for everyone. I just don’t think there is regarding police and African-Americans right now. That’s why I post these things. But I refuse to pretend I don’t see what I see all around me. Just because I wish for it doesn’t make it true — not yet anyway.



  4. As to the six shots…if it is true that Officer Wilson was badly beaten and the occipital lobe of one eye was shattered, then the six shots make much more sense. Look at the autopsy picture. This is hardly a good “grouping” of shots. It goes up his whole left side but most of the shots are on the arm and shoulder. If the shots start at the head and go down, then you are right, but if he shots hit the arm first, it would not take down a person charging at you. The point being, if the cop had a shattered skull/concussion…it’s not very hard to see why he fired that many shots.

    As to the whole situation. I think there is racial tension on both sides. It certainly highlighted that this particular police force needs to actively recruit in the black community. In some places it wouldn’t matter whether it was a majority black police unit policing whites or a majority white police force policing blacks. But clearly in Ferguson it does matter. They need better representation in the police force. What we don’t know is why this is such a white heavy force…is it for lack of applicants or some sort of prejudice. It certainly needs to be looked at and addressed though.

    Unfortunately in cases like this I don’t think the parents are the best societal judges. They are never going to see their son as anything but a young man bursting with potential. That is rightly so, but that’s why we have a criminal justice system that attempts to remove anyone from the jury with close ties to the case.

    Did you see about the father in Texas that was just acquitted of killing the drunk driver that killed his sons? Honestly, he should have been convicted, but there is a part of all of us that understands that feeling of a father avenging his sons. It isn’t right though. My point in this case is that I understand his parents wanting to avenge their son, and all of us can at least partially understand that, but that doesn’t make it right. It isn’t justice to gun down the drunk driver any more than it is justice to convict Officer Wilson unless he is actually guilty of murder.

    I always appreciate your insight and I do want you to know that you do make me think. You’re a kind soul and I think sensitive to the bigger picture which we could all learn from.

    1. Sean:

      Thanks again for keeping up the conversation and making me think, as well. In the long run, you may (or may not?) be right about the actual shooting. I said the thing about Michael Brown’s parents because I didn’t want to be one more person who determined what they thought was fitting. Somewhere between their needs, the officer’s needs, and the truth, hopefully justice will be done.

      On the other hand, after the trial (if there is one — if not, after a report) all of the wider issues need to be dealt with, especially in Ferguson. All other communities and individuals should probably see if a) there’s a problem where they are and b) if they contribute to it in some way and c) if there are ways they can make things better. Then, finally, if there are things they can do, they actually should. I think this is true for all controversies and tragedies — and most of life. I worry that we don’t do enough reflection — or fixing — sometimes. I think we are both better for the discussion, and again, I thank you.



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