A grand jury will soon rule on whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged in the shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown. The people of Ferguson, Missouri, would like you to understand why this is so important. People often ask, "What do the citizens of Ferguson want?" Here is a pretty clear answer. It's a really thoughtful conversation about what is happening all over our country and what needs to happen to prevent this from happening ever again. (Also, yes, that is "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams saying lots of great things in the middle of this.) Here's what you need to know. (You can scroll down to the bottom to get straight to the video.)
DISCLOSURE: I am white. If you are white and this story makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to fight the urge to close this window and to read the whole story. It's not racist to feel challenged and awkward in thinking about these issues. It is depressing, though, if you can't muster the strength to get a different perspective than your own. I would urge you to really listen, hear the whole thing, get a fresh perspective, and consider ALL the facts.
The people of Ferguson have a reasonable request:
The self-defense law in Missouri makes this a challenge since it is not very strict. But the citizens of Ferguson deserve to see him given the opportunity to plead his case in a court of his own peers.
It's more complex than just Mike Brown, though.
That's a real thing. Local police kill 400 black people a year nationwide. Police kill young black men at a rate 21 times higher than young white men. (And that's only data from reported shootings. Police reporting of officer-involved shootings is optional, and many don't report their statistics.)
People keep dying in Ferguson and St. Louis.
Kim King "strangled herself" while in police custody, Kajieme Powell was shot in front of witnesses, and Vonderrit Meyers had either a gun or a sandwich when he was shot by police all within the St. Louis and Ferguson area.
Putting Darren Wilson on trial has the potential of getting justice for his family, but justice for Mike Brown isn't the only thing they want.
You can watch the video to learn more.
If you have the time, listen to the kid who says something really angry at the beginning — because what he says at the end is really important and pretty damn profound.
A better tomorrow isn't enough.
In the months since Mike Brown was shot, there's been lots of speculation and backseat driving from people across the political spectrum trying to determine Darren Wilson's guilt or innocence. And while finding out the truth about it is incredibly important, an equally important conversation is about the system in which this tragedy occurred in the first place.
I want to believe that cops are here to protect us. And the best way for them to earn that trust is to learn a new way to police that doesn't do more harm than good. If you think there's more to this than just taking a side, if you think that we maybe should have a grown-up conversation about how to end systemic discrimination by people in authority, I'd appreciate you sharing this.