Today marks the three-year death anniversary of Michael Brown, an 18-year old black man shot by police in Ferguson, MO after an altercation with a police officer. It was an event that caused riots–some peaceful, some violent, in Ferguson and throughout the United States. A truly unfortunate event in a time where race relations are arguably very tense.
The tweets I read while browsing through Twitter today came as no surprise–about 30% of them were posts wishing him to rest in peace, and the other 70% were completely slanderous and innappropriate for the occasion–the anniversary of his death.
Michael Brown was no saint. He was alleged to have robbed a convenience store, pushing a clerk in the process. Details about his aggressiveness towards the officer who shot him, Darren Wilson are disputed among witnesses.
What I am so utterly irritated by is the extreme points of view between people on this and many other issues. It seems to me there’s no in between when it comes to assessing this situation and where you stand on the issue is either, for lack of a better term, black or white. Whether you think Darren Wilson was a racist cop who took the life of an innocent unarmed black man, or you think Michael Brown was a reckless criminal who made a poor choice resulting in his death, one thing is clear: He did not deserve to die for his crimes.
I pointed out that Dylan Roof, the man who shot and killed 9 African Americans at a church in South Carolina in 2015, was still alive and well despite having shot and killed 9 people, although he was sentenced to death a year later.
This is not to say police wouldn’t have intervened in the church shooting if they could have, or that no unarmed white man has ever been killed by police.
The majority of the tweets in the aformentioned 70% on the Mike Brown hashtag were absolutely disrespectful–calling him a thug, suggesting he was a rotten, good-for-nothing person, that he deserved what he got, etc. I am baffled by this complete lack of empathy for a dead 18-year old and his grieving family.
When you dismiss him as a “thug” and say you’re glad he’s dead, you are showing that you don’t believe his life mattered. And it did.
Many question the uproar when a black person is killed by police, yet claim no one bats an eye when black on black crime is an every day occurence in cities like Chicago, where I currently reside. The problem with this is that many of us are so removed from those situations we can’t begin to understand and therefore dismiss it as “not our problem”, thus creating the feeling that black lives don’t matter. But they do.
My point is that it’s easy to preach and point fingers but when are people going to stop the name-calling and actually try and understand someone else’s point of view?
There is so much anger built up by both sides in this situation. One side believes its citizens are not treated as they matter, and resentful that an unarmed man paid for his petty crimes with his life. The other side is determined to prove that breaking the law has consquences and it has nothing to do with skin color. Violent protests and destruction of property, nor the careless labels of “thug” and “criminal” are helping either side come together and see things from each other’s point of view.
Darren Wilson was never convicted in the death of Mike Brown. The case is over and now a young man will never celebrate another birthday. This is a tragic situation, no matter what your viewpoint is on the case or the lack of conviction.
On the anniversary of his death, let’s aim to be respectful of Michael Brown. Stop the name-calling, unfounded slander against this man who isn’t here to defend himself. He’s dead, and despite his choices, everyone should agree that his death was unfortunate and that he should still be alive today.
Until people stop the hateful accusations and name-calling, we won’t get anywhere.