There is a deep division in this country. It threatens to overcome and overwhelm us all.
After spending several days on the ground in Ferguson Missouri, covering the protests and the riots that occurred after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, I can tell you first hand this division is real, growing and dangerous.
It isn’t the division between black and white. It isn’t the division between the haves and the have nots.
It is the division between those who form their opinions based on facts and those who form facts to fit their opinions.
It is alarming to watch rumor run rampant across the countryside and even worse to watch racism hide under a cloak of level-headed thinking.
For those who believe there is no such thing as racism, then you’re lost. If you think racism is the largest problem this country faces, then you’re gone.
The facts in the shooting of Michael Brown show, for anyone who wishes to look at such things logically, demonstrate the deep chasms in this country. A white police officer shot an unarmed man – not once and not twice. He fired at least 10 rounds at the young man and hit him six times. In my opinion, by every account the officer violated his own rules and regulations on the use of deadly force.
There has never been a clearer case and if it had been a white teen involved in the shooting – well wait there never has been a known case of a white teen being gunned down by a white officer in such a manner.
White teen serial killers and mass shooters, unless they kill themselves are usually brought in without being peppered with bullets.
Those facts are undeniable and yet there are those who say “who speaks for the officer?”
Well obviously the officer does. He’s still alive. Michael Brown doesn’t have that option.
Yet, I maintain the grand jury should be allowed to do its job. If the circumstances prove the officer shouldn’t be charged – then so be it. But if they do show he should be charged then he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
I was not there. I do not know the circumstances. I only know at this point the few facts I’ve been able to verify and if additional fact finding shows my opinion to be in error, then I will change my opinion. I will not defend it and cherry pick facts to fit my personal bias.
With that said there is a greater issue involved and I sincerely hope this issue gets the scrutiny it deserves.
Watching the National Guard and local police, seeing the tear gas and the burned out buildings on West Florissant Ave. in St. Louis – just a few miles from where a very good friend of mine grew up, I could not help but be distressed.
Being treated poorly by some of the local police and seeing the amount of armed men sent to quell the uprising worried me even more.
Parts of St. Louis in the last few weeks looked, and with the heat felt like, parts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the First Gulf Wars.
The militarization of police departments is an important and growing issue across the country, but more importantly the attitude of some policemen toward the populace is of greater concern.
Racism causes these policemen to be exposed for the unprofessional representatives of their profession they are.
But racism isn’t the only problem. Because of racism an unprofessional police officer may be more ready to confront and harass African Americans and other minorities, but it isn’t limited to those communities.
Fear drives the unprofessional police officer and lack of training compels them to puff their chests with pride and treat everyone with disdain.
Thank you to the mostly African-American community of Ferguson Missouri for exposing one of the greatest problems we face in the U.S. today – the loss of our civil rights, the emergence of the police state and the need to confront and deal with the loss of our civil liberties.
The Chief of Police of St. Louis County was accurate when he told me there needs to be greater efforts by police to get into communities and be part of a community so people do not always see you as a threat.
But it also takes good training to make sure the right people are officers in the first place.
I know many police officers that deserve my respect and to name them all would be difficult.
But there are rotten apples and because of the militarization of local police departments they are more dangerous now than ever.