Friday, August 15, 2014

The Ferguson Missouri Shooting: We Need Calm Not Violence

On the Monday following the shooting of an unarmed 18-year old black male by a white cop, I was listening as an angry black male called into a radio talk show.  His simplified accounting of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri was that the police officer involved, shot Michael Brown because he and another black man wouldn't get out of the street. Sadly, this is how the situation in being portrayed and this can only inflame the community further.  Certainly, the mere presence of Al Sharpton in Ferguson only intensifies the anger because, if he's there, its assumed that the shooting must have been a racist act.

Then, Jesse Jackson felt obligated to write an opinion piece for USA Today entitled: 'There's a Ferguson' near you' where, in the very first sentence, he writes:
"Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African American male in suburban Ferguson, Missouri, who had just graduated from high school and planned to start college, has joined a long line of blacks, especially black males, who have recently been gunned down, wrestled down and killed by white men and/or white police officers who claim "reasonable fear" or "self-defense" as their defense."
So,  again, racism is being implied in the Ferguson shooting, Additionally, there is also the implication that blacks are being shot at random by both white men and white cops.

The first problem with all of the above is the accounting of the event.  From the Cafemom website, here is the most concise report of what is currently known to have happened:
"Apparently, around noon on Sunday, an officer approached Brown (who was walking to his grandmother's home, according to his parents) and another man. As the cop exited his vehicle, one of the men allegedly pushed him back in the car and assaulted him. During the struggle, a shot was fired inside the car. As Brown left the scene, the officer shot him about 35 feet way. The report noted that several shots were fired from the cop's gun. "
To me, this seems to be a more logical explanation of what happened than the belief that Brown was simply shot for not getting out of the street. Then too, the real truth may lie somewhere in between and only a thorough investigation will uncover the facts.

The other problem I have is Jesse Jackson's implication that there is a "long line of blacks" being killed by white cops and other white men claiming "reasonable fear" or "self-defense" as their defense.  The problem with that claim is that statistics don't support it.  First, a decades long study found that 94% of all black deaths as victims of shootings were committed by other blacks.  The remaining 6% is made up of not just whites but, also, Hispanics.  So, if Mr. Jackson has a problem with blacks being killed, it should be directed at his own ethnic community.

Additionally, in 2011 it was determined that there were a total 1,146 officer involved shootings that year.  Of that there were 607 deaths.  When taken against a base of roughly 780,000 officers in the U.S., that's less than two-tenths of one percent of all officers who where even involved in any shooting and less than one-tenth of one percent that were involved in a shooting death.  Now, what is true is that about half of those deaths were black. But, then too, one out of every three black men is expected to be involved in a crime that results in imprisonment during thei lifetime.  So, with the higher rate of criminal activity, there is also going to be a higher rate of officer involved shootings and deaths.

What Mr. Jackson also neglects to mention after he tells us of Ferguson being 70% black, is the fact that violent crime in that St. Louis suburb is 25% higher than the national average and total crime is 58% higher.  Yet, the police force is relatively small compared to the national average.  This fact alone serves to keep tensions high between the police and the community, and the higher percentage of lawlessness is probably why there is all the looting and violent protests.

We need black leaders to stop stirring the pot and fomenting violence.  We need calm to allow the investigation to go forward and determine the truth.  If it is true that the officer killed without cause then, let him be tried in our courts for murder.  If he isn't brought to justice; only then should the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson get involved.


Cop Shoots & Kills Unarmed Teen for Reason Many Aren't Buying:

Jesse Jackson: There's a 'Ferguson' near you:

A Black Man is Killed in the U.S. Every 28 Hours by Police:

The Trayvon Martin Killing and the Myth of Black-on-Black Crime:

Police Involved Shooting Statistics: A National One-Year Summary:

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States:

List of countries by number of police officers:

Ferguson, Missouri Crime Stats:

Ferguson, MO Crime by Year and Type:

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