Soon after St. Louis County prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch announced the grand jury rejected any indictments against Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson, hundreds standing in front of the Ferguson Police Department began yelling insults and pelting objects at a line of police officers standing guard.
The destruction escalated during the night after the tearful breakdown of Michael Brown’s mother who cried that the grand jury of nine whites and three blacks denied her “justice” for the shooting of her 18-year-old son on a residential street. Brown’s stepfather jumped up on a platform with his wife, embracing her before he turned to the crowd and began yelling “burn this motherfucking place down.”
Further exacerbating the national tension, a New York City grand jury no-billed a police officer on Dec. 3 who strangled a 43-year-old black man with a chokehold when a group of policemen attempted to arrest him in July for the illegal sale of cigarettes on a Staten Island sidewalk. Thousands of people marched in the streets to protest that evening in a more peaceful assembly, but unrest across the nation began to brew over the new development.
Now, protests continue in cities nationwide, and arguments on social media sites such as Facebook flourish between advocates of law enforcement officers and activists who view the killing of Brown as an act of police brutality. Civil rights leaders urge calm and lawful behavior, but the debate continues to rage about whether a police officer executed a teenager suspected of stealing tobacco products on Aug. 9 or if he justifiably shot an assailant who threatened his life with his fists and hulk. The police officer said the teenager refused to obey a command to get out of the street and walk on the sidewalk.
Reporters who cover crime and examine police reports know that law enforcement officers witness and must contend with the types of violence that the average person cannot begin to comprehend. Often, it arises unexpectedly, and anyone coming into contact with police officers should be considerate of their apprehension.
It is a tragedy that Brown died as the direct consequences of a relatively minor crime, but the violence that ensued during the riots is inexcusable. All groups of people need to give a little, try to understand each other better and even extend a helping hand to the disadvantaged. The underprivileged need to try harder to improve their lot through education and hard work.