Wednesday, December 03, 2014

What About Ferguson?

Good friends asked me about my take on Ferguson, Missouri, while eating Sunday lunch at Fuddrucker's last Sunday. I intended to write something about it last week but just didn't.

It is always a tragedy when a family loses a child. Loss of a child means more than losing a child in some violent fashion. It is sad when a family loses a child because of disease or accident, too. It is just as tragic when a child is lost due to their rejection of the family and its values. The Prodigal's father understood loss even though his son was not physically dead. For that reason I feel badly for the Brown family in the loss of their son Michael in the tragic shooting last summer.

Having said that, I cannot feel much sympathy for the young man. He is certainly not a victim. He is instead a victimizer. As much as his death hurts his family it did not have to happen. My read on the events and the subsequent Grand Jury refusal to indict Darren Wilson is simple. Michael Brown was an arrest waiting to happen--an arrest he apparently resisted through a physical attack on the officer. Like so many who violently resist arrest he paid the price for it.

To those who say Darren Wilson's actions were excessive because Michael Brown was unarmed, I want to make something abundantly clear. Michael Brown was not "unarmed." True, he did not have a firearm or, to my knowledge, a knife or club but he was armed and fully able to do bodily harm or kill the officer. Michael Brown was a young strong man fully capable of killing without any weapon external to himself. The man was over 6' tall and weighed at least 290 pounds. In addition he was stoned on marijuana, a fact that undoubtedly accounted for his irrational attack on the policeman. If you don't think a 6', 290 pound man can do bodily harm--even kill--another human being all you need to do is remember he was as big and as strong as an NFL lineman.

Huge people intimidate and threaten others. For many years I was 6' 2" tall and weighed in excess of 300 pounds. While my weight was spread over my body it wasn't muscle. In spite of that fact, I could intimidate smaller men. There were several times I got in the face of abusers and threatened bodily harm if they beat their wives again. Those guys took me seriously! My friend Mike Smith is 6'6" (or more) and weighs 300 pounds. Although Mike is a gentle giant he has the ability to intimidate by his very presence. Sheer size is intimidating and if the large person is aggressive or violent and out of control because of drugs there is good reason to fear one's life.

What really galls me, though, is the way the whole incident was handled and reported. In our nation there is always a presumption of innocence. That presumption exists even when there is the appearance of guilt. That goes both ways, too! The fact is, however, the police have a right to stop a possible offender and arrest them if necessary. Guilt on innocence is brought out later in a trial and a trial almost always occurs unless there is evidence to suggest an indictment is not needed.

We all know there are occasions when we think our Justice System gets it wrong! I'm thinking of the O.J. Simpson trial. Simpson was indicted, stood trial, and was declared innocent. At this point it does not matter whether or not he killed Nicole Brown Simpson. The court said he was innocent. It no longer matters whether or not Michael Brown was unnecessarily killed. The Grand Jury said there was insufficient evidence to bring an indictment. That's the way it is!

Before you go, consider these facts in the case:

  1. Michael Brown is seen on a security tape stealing from a convenience store.
  2. Michael Brown is seen bullying the convenience store owner--we are unsure what Brown said to the owner in the process of the theft including threats.
  3. Michael Brown was high (stoned) on marijuana.
  4. Police Officer Darren Wilson was made aware of the convenience store robbery.
  5. Michael Brown and his compatriot were impeding traffic when Wilson told them to get out of the street. Further, Wilson knew Brown was the probable convenience store thief.
  6. There was some sort of scuffle in which Brown resisted arrest and may have tried to take the officer's firearm.
  7. According to testimony, Brown was shot and started to leave the scene when ordered to stop.
  8. According to testimony, Brown acted aggressively and rushed the policeman with head down (an indication of attack mode).
  9. According to testimony, Officer Wilson feared for his life and fired on Brown killing him.

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