The failure of the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson is an atrocity and an affront to Americans, especially Americans of color, and specifically black Americans.
I was delighted to see the diversity of the groups of people demonstrating against the grand jury injustice as well as the diversity of demonstrators in previous demonstrations against Officer Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American male.
Although I don’t condone looting – setting fires and other criminal behaviors – exhibited by an out-of-control few in Ferguson, I’m not sure I agree with President Barack Obama’s statement in his Nov. 25 speech in Chicago that: “…nothing of significance, nothing of benefit results from destructive acts. I’ve never seen a civil rights law … result because a car got burned.”
In Bebe Moore Campbell’s story “Brothers and Sisters,” an African American woman tells her brother that he would not have been able to become a banker if it had not been for people like her. “…You don’t even understand the real deal … You where you are because folks like me threw bricks and set fires …”
There are those who believe that destructive behavior in the past alarmed many politicians (and people within and without our country) and stressed the need to pass Civil Rights Bills that reinforced the Declaration of Independence’s concept that: “…all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…”
I strongly agree with President Obama’s statement: “… If any part of the American community doesn’t feel welcomed or treated fairly, that’s something that puts all of us at risk, and we all have to be concerned about it” and that the Ferguson problem is “not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem.”
We in Evanston should know this, and it’s not just a problem pertaining to race and ethnicity. It’s also a problem pertaining to age, class and gender. I recently spoke with a woman who was upset because an Evanston police officer told her several times that she was “paranoid,” that she heard things no one else heard. Another woman said the Evanston Police Department (EPD) had the psychiatric department of a local hospital call her because she complained to the EPD a lot about problems in her neighborhood. Another woman told me that the EPD told her that vehicles idling at a business near her residence were exempt from the ordinance pertaining to idling vehicles.
President Obama said, “We know that if we train police properly, that that improves policing and makes people feel that the system is fair.” Well, we can only hope that proper training is done soon and results in police officers respecting the United States Pledge of Allegiance and employing practices that promote “Liberty and Justice for All.”