Why It's Not Surprising That Michael Brown's Death Resulted In Outrage And Riots

by Jason Francis

Just a couple nights ago, the collective frustrations of a small suburb just outside of St. Louis reached its boiling point and exploded in a display of rage, violence and destruction.

As police officers confronted the town's enraged citizens with full riot gear, I could only find myself asking questions: Is this just the beginning? Will this lead to eventual justice for Mike Brown? What would justice even mean?

Brown, whose life was taken from this past Saturday by a Ferguson police officer's gunshots, adds to the growing list of unarmed black men who are ending up dead after encounters with authorities.

Now, days after his killing, we have yet to get one solid description of the events that led to the fatal August 9 events. Thus far, the stories differ so greatly that it’s clear someone is lying. It’s often said that in all matters, you have three versions of the story: one for each side and one that's the truth.

The problem for many black people in this nation is that for whatever reason, there is a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement officials that end in excessive, if not deadly use of force. This fact is deeply rooted in the United States' history.

Though we have elected the first black man to be president, the advancement seems, in many ways, to be promoting bigotry, prejudice and racism, rather than highlighting progress.

This past weekend, many New Yorkers protested the police brutality issues that emerged from Eric Garner's recent choking death.

It’s a scary thought that instead of other law enforcement departments proceeding with caution, we have yet another, even more brutal, homicide that occurred.

With details still unknown, it’s dangerous to jump to any conclusions, but attempting to justify a trained officer killing an unarmed teen is an explanation that the black community is tired of hearing. People are being unjustly killed and the victims of these acts are, quite simply, fed up.

If you don’t learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. Yesterday, what began as a peaceful candlelight vigil in Ferguson, Missouri for the 18-year-old high school graduate steadily evolved into a scene of chaos, as the angry crowds demanded answers for what had happened.

Officers met the people in waves with riot gear and dogs. On the 49th anniversary of the Watts Riots, tensions in Ferguson spilled over into riots and destruction. Reports say that shots were fired at police helicopters overhead, but none hit.

Many will say that the rioting is counterproductive and that great leaders of the past preached peace and nonviolence to make progress in these civil issues. That may be the case, but be clear that riots in the most extreme life or death situations have been used as ends to justify the means.

In the words of the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr.:

And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

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