What is justice? Webster defines it as “the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals.”
In the Michael Brown case, I’m afraid many, many people don’t understand the word.
We’ve all seen the signs being help up during the Ferguson protests—people want justice. That’s natural, that’s normal. Any thinking, law-abiding citizen wants justice.
How do you get justice? You look at the evidence, indict or not; if an indictment is handed down, the accused goes on trial. If he’s found guilty, he goes to prison. If there is no indictment, the accused is exonerated—he gets to go home.
Most people want to see justice for Michael Brown, but you can’t have justice without all the facts, all the evidence. It’s not simple.
What do we know? Michael was shot by Darren Wilson. At this point, that’s ALL we know.
In some circumstances, that would be enough. In this instance, it’s not. Officer Wilson was on duty as a police officer.
My fear is that those who do not understand the term “justice” are merely looking for a guilty verdict—and that’s something that won’t come for a long time, if ever. We’re told that the grand jury deliberations could take weeks, even after all the evidence is presented, and that itself supposed to take up to two months or longer.
It takes time.
For those who knew Michael, they’re in disbelief that this happened—surely many have known him for years, personally, and are stunned. Maybe they can’t imagine him attacking a cop, or stealing, or threatening; all these things have been reported, which doesn’t make them true.
On the other hand, maybe they can imagine it. I don’t know. I didn’t know Michael. I think it’s a shame that this happened at all, but I can see where it could have gone down like this. I can see the other side too.
I’ve heard of “bad” cops, but mostly from those who were doing something wrong or those who mouthed off at the officer. I know quite a few officers, and can’t imagine them doing something like this for no reason whatsoever. Every single officer I have ever encountered has been polite and respectful.
Every one of them.
Then again, I didn’t argue with them or call them names or threaten them in any way at all.
Oh, and I’m not black. Yes, I know it happens. I’ve heard stories.
I’m not saying that Michael did any of that, not at all, but please try to see my side—everyone has a side, whether it’s wrong or right, black or white, or for any other reason.
Here’s what I know:
Michael was shot by Officer Darren Wilson.
You can’t get and won’t have justice any time soon.
There are a lot of stories circulating, some true, some false.
People are riled up, perhaps with good cause.
Most police officers are decent and professional.
But here’s what I’d like to know:
What does the protesting accomplish?
Are you going to keep protesting until the grand jury is finished with the case?
What happens if Darren Wilson is indicted? What happens if he’s not?
Since this, after all, my blog, I can comment on these things:
Why the protesting? I know you’re protesting because Michael was shot by a police officer, but what does it accomplish? Kids are missing school. People are scared. People have limited access to their homes. I’m not going to cover the looting, because we can all agree that that’s being done by a small element, using the protesting as a cover.
Two months, the estimated time to present all the evidence to the grand jury, is a long time to continue disrupting people’s lives. If the objective is to bring awareness to the situation, to the issue, I’d say you’ve accomplished your goals.
If Officer Wilson is indicted, then what? Keep protesting until he’s convicted? It could be months, or a year or more, before the trial is heard. A long, long time to continue marching.
And if he’s not? If it’s over then, legally speaking? Then what?
Let’s try something, for both sides of this issue:
First, if you believe that the officer just whipped out his sidearm and shot Michael for no reason, take just one moment and ask yourself, “What if Michael had an altercation with Darren Wilson and punched him and/or tried to grab his gun and then charged him?” Take a deep breath, and ask again, “What if?”
Would the officer’s reaction not be justified? Don’t add all the qualifying issues, all the extraneous matters, just stop and think about it.
For those of you who believe that Michael was a bad guy and deserved everything he got, maybe more, what if Michael was indeed simply jaywalking? Forget the rest, forget what you’ve heard, just think. Did he really deserve to be killed for that?
Now, I think most people believe that no, Michael should not have been killed for jaywalking; a lot of us might be in real trouble, if that’s the case. Those who respect the police, and authority, might believe that Michael shouldn’t have tried to grab the officer’s gun, if that’s what happened; or maybe he shouldn’t have said anything but “Yes, okay,” when told to walk on the sidewalk instead of what his friend said: “We’re almost where we’re going.” Of course, thinking people realize that’s not a reason to pull out a gun, either.
Three people know the whole story: Michael, Darren Wilson, and Michael’s friend Dorian Johnson who was present. That’s it. You can be angry, you can speculate and guess, but you do NOT know what happened.
So again, what are you protesting? Something to which you do not have all the facts. Facts are what make a legal case. You can be angry that a young man was shot—you can even qualify it with the word “black” if that makes you feel better. It shouldn’t make a difference, though; white or black, if the shooting was wrong, it was wrong.
What are you teaching your children when you bring them along? Besides potentially putting them in danger, what are you telling them? That it’s okay to demonstrate against authority without knowing all the facts? Is your reasoning that the police have a history of profiling? Or something else?
I’d really like to know. So far, no one has come forward to sit down and talk, as I asked last week. I guess no one has answers, or are too busy being angry and marching in front of the TV cameras, because honestly—you aren’t accomplishing anything this way.
All the marching, the signs, the chants, are only telling the world that you’ve assigned blame and want retribution, right this minute.
Do you want true justice by the law, or only a vigilante type?