Blog Assignment #2
Police brutality; Black Lives Matter
Growing up in an African American community, you begin to realize how the world looks at you. I was born and raised in the Central District of Seattle, Yesler Terrace. In other words, “the hood.” When I was 12 years old, I remember looking out the window and seeing a number of police officers pointing there weapons at a black teenager with his hands up in the air. Quickly I turned away out of fear. Seconds later I heard gunshots. The following night, there was a candle light vigil for that same person right in front of my house. From my memory, I do not recall any media covering the killing of Dominique but I do recall a sad and upset black community. During that time the only way we could get news out there is through the television media. Those media outlets never gave it the day of time. Now, African Americans throughout the United States have used the social media outlet to voice their concerns about the justice system. This forces media to cover catastrophes such as these because one way or another the news can reach the other side of the globe within seconds. For over a century, blacks have faced an abundant amount of brutality by white police officer. Darnell Moore of the Mic states, “The likelihood that a black person killed by police will be unarmed: They are twice as likely to be killed than a white person.”
On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager was murdered by Darren Wilson, a white police officer (Buchanan) It was around noon when Officer Wilson responded to a call of a black male stealing from a liquor store. Wilson arrived to find Michael Brown and his friend walking in the middle of the street. Officer Wilson then claims that he told them to get out of the street and they replied “We are almost where we need to go.” Officer Wilson then claims that he tried to get out of his car but Brown “violently” shut it before he could exit (Clarke). Officer Wilson the claimed that there was a fight over his gun. Keep in mind, we are only hearing the officers side here. The autopsy report proves in many instances that Michael Brown was not aggressive or forceful.
Throughout the case Darren Wilson denied allegations of murdering Brown in cold blood although a series of evidence proved that his killing was unjustified. Witnesses testified against him and autopsy proved that Brown couldn’t have fought. According to Lawrence Kobilinsky, A forensic DNA expert, Michael Brown was shot in the right eye. The autopsy indicated that the same bullet exited his jaw area. What this meant is that Michael brown was falling forward as he was being shot (Rosenbaum). In addition to this madness, why would any officer feel the need to shoot an unarmed bystander 7 times? Was it because he was black?
What happened next was powerful. What is now known as Ferguson unrest was one of the most powerful peaceful protests the world has ever seen. After Michael Browns death, African Americans in Ferguson resisted by protesting. Thousands of people came together to let the police know that we are fed up. Ferguson unrest showed the world that racism is still well and alive. As I researched more into the protest, I began to realize that these protests were considered to be “Riots”. I also realized that video and images were only of those people who found it was okay to break into stores etc. and saying these were the protestors. Truth is majority of the protestors were peaceful and only wanted justice. The media refused to show these demonstrations because they wanted to ruin the image of African Americans. Instead, they let the world know that Missouri was in a state of emergency because blacks are going “crazy”.
When I see the image of Mike Browns body lying on the ground, I see myself being in that same position. Mike brown could’ve been any of us. As an African American, I face racism on campus, in my neighborhood, in job interviews and from the police. That image reminds me of how African Americans were treated during slavery and post-slavery. During the Lynching Era (1880-1930) African Americans were lynched. Whites did this so that can maintain social order over the black population. Secondly, lynching became popular so whites can always remain above blacks economically and politically and finally, to stabilize the white class structure. Even during that time, Africans Americans resisted. It was until the civil rights movement that they could use their voices (Braziel). Browns body on the ground in the middle of a neighborhood looks reminds of a message that our justice system is sending us.
During the Slavery era, African Americans tried to resist but they faced many challenges in doing so. Organization was impossible because slave codes didn’t allow groups of African Americans to be with one another. Also, white punishments placed fear in the hearts of slaves. Instead of using their voices, blacks resisted by slowing down there work, sabotaging production, abusing live stock, committing arson and also “stealing food”. Although we are in the 21st century, our voices aren’t heard just like they weren’t heard a century ago.
Resistance is something that African Americans have a long history of. During the Civil rights era, police brutality was at its highest. Nearly half a century ago, most lived under Jim Crow laws. These laws essentially legalized segregation between blacks and white (Pittman). This allowed white police officers to feel superior to colored people. A number of murders by police officers were justified by the Jim crow laws. Now, it is apparent that time is essentially repeating itself. A few nationally recognized consists of Eric Garner’s death, Dontre Hamilton and Tanisha Hamilton. All unarmed blacks that were killed in cold blood by the people we pay with our tax money.
As an African American male, I understand that I cannot rely on the justice system to protect me. The only thing that I can rely on if anything were to harm me is my brothers and sisters throughout the world. The significance that our voices have carry is amazing and we have seen it as resistance has evolved. As we move forward into making a greater country, I believe that one day all races will be looked at equally. I do not want my kids to feel the way that I feel about our justice system.
Buchanan, Larry. “What Happened in Ferguson?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Rosenbaum, Steven. “Expert Weighs in on Michael Brown Autopsy.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 23 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Clarke, Rachel. “What Happened When Michael Brown Met Officer Darren Wilson.”CNN. Cable News Network, 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
Braziel, Jana. “History of Lynching in the United States, Jana Evans Braziel.” History of Lynching in the United States, Jana Evans Braziel. N.p., 23 Sept. 1992. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.