Jordan Davis. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Steve Washington.
These are a few African American young men who were fatally executed by our country’s police de-partment or by other citizens in the last 15 years. In a country where a policeman’s job is to protect and serve, society feels more scared and unprotected.
These men were victims of brutality in their own communities. They posed no threat to their commu-nity, other citizens or the police. However, their families are left remembering the lives they could have had.
This terrible cycle continues today as the citizens of St. Louis mourn the loss of 18-year old, Michael Brown, who was shot multiple times by an officer of the Ferguson County Police department. He was a recent graduate of Normandy High School, set to start college this past Monday.
According to the St. Louis County Police chief, Jon Belmar, the officer had an encounter with two men walking along the street. Apparently, the two young men were accused of stealing. He said one of the men pushed the officer back into the police car when he tried to get out, which led to an attempted assault on the officer. Belmar said there was a struggle for the officer’s weapon. In that time, a shot was fired by the officer at Michael Brown.
Dorian Johnson, the other young man, said he was walking home from the store with Brown when an officer pulled beside them and told them to get out of the street. He says the officer confronted them by getting out of the car and firing a shot when they attempted to flee.
Johnson said Brown turned around and put his hands up to surrender and the officer still fired more shots.
From the shell casings found at the scene, it is clear that Brown was shot numerous times from the of-ficer’s gun. Several eyewitnesses say Brown was facing the officer and holding his arms up just before he was shot.
The FBI has decided to open an investigation into the shooting of Brown by the officer. Hopefully, this will lead to the real story of what actually happened.
“This is a case of excessive force and the appropriate actions need to be taken against the officers who handled the situation,” said Demarius Love, a ‘criminal justice’ graduate form Middle Tennessee State University. “As an officer, the last method of apprehension should be use of deadly force.”
The wrongful death of Michael Brown led to a massive riot in St. Louis County. It began as a peaceful protest, until shots were fired at the police and people began looting local stores. While some officers tried to calm down the community, others antagonized them by calling them “animals,” according to CNN.
It is sad that we turn on the news to see that we have lost the life of another young man.
Misconstrued stories and false accusations never lead to justice. It is bad enough that African American men are seen as a target, simply for their skin color. Citizens in the world already believe that the justice system does not want them to succeed.
We have to stop these catastrophes immediately—but not by rioting.
We can say society is to blame for the image of African American young men. However, the media plays a major part, as well. They feed off information received by any means possible, reporting only what makes stories better—no matter if people are portrayed in a negative light.
Dominique Wilson, a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, also believes that we need to be more informed, referring to society doing outside research rather than only believing only one source of media.
“Most Black people are shown as negative and not positive,” Wilson said.
Since this tragedy, what is known as ‘Black Twitter’ has established a new ‘hashtag’: <#ifiwas-gunneddown>. People on twitter post one picture of them achieving a major accomplishment next to one where they knew society would condemn them.
The same was done during the Trayvon Martin case. Videos and photos of him smoking and cursing were used to discredit him. The pictures are not the issue, therefore we should not focus on them. We should focus on the actions against these young men are.
How can we continue to raise our children to look to law enforcement to protect them, when they are being prejudged as criminals? Sean Bell was shot 50 times because police thought they saw a gun, but none was found on him. Darius Simmons was shot and killed by a neighbor while taking out the trash. Jordan Davis was killed for refusing to turn down his music at a local convenience store. Trayvon Martin was thought to have had a gun, as well.
“It’s just sad another young Black man won’t be able to enjoy life,” said Jonitha Ward, a Nashville na-tive.
“I feel like there is a new genocide on Black males and nothing is going on to stop it,” said Dominique Wilson.
“I believe this is shaking up America and letting certain races know that we as African Americans will not tolerate injustice in the 21st century,” said Demarius Love.
Love is all too familiar with the justice system, since that was his major while attending MTSU. More than a tragedy, he called it a “slaughtering.”
Wilson, Love and Ward said they are angered and enraged by such an injustice.
“I feel like we can’t wait until something bad happens to ask for change. We have to be consistent,” said Ward.
“Society can learn from this by first educating our Black men on how to properly engage and interact with police authority, because in our community we are taught to hate the cops and that they are no good—which stems from previous abuse of law enforcement back in the ‘60s and even earlier,” Love said. “We must educate and inform our community on how to engage and deal with officers.”
As a community, the citizens of Ferguson county need to stand strong and look at the bigger picture. Rioting and looting will only bring more pain and hurt to others.