When Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, 2014, I was still in journalism school at Arizona State University, learning more about the effective use of social media and blogs and the impact they can have on social movements. I was not aware of how important that information was going to become for me until months later, when the movement to save black lives came to the forefront of our collective social conscience.
Michael Brown was just 18 years old when he was gunned down in Ferguson, Mo., by white police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. His death became a focal point in the Movement for Black lives, and now Hollywood studio Warner Bros. has a project in development to tell his story on the big screen.
How much injustice are we supposed to take? How long are we supposed to continue to swallow the shit sandwich America continues to serve up to us? What is it going to take to make change?
There are plenty of differences between the cases of Garner and Brown, but one particular contrast remains salient: There was no footage of Michael Brown’s death, only eyewitness accounts and conjecture, leaving minds to imagine a standoff between an officer and a civilian, a standoff that ended with the image of Brown lying dead in the street for over four hours.
I queued up Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” today after seeing someone reference it on Twitter. The lyrics are just as applicable today as they were the year the song originally came out. 43 years later, nothing has changed. NOTHING.
Where do we go from here? What are we to do?
I’m glad to know I’m not the only person serving this picture a bit of side eye. This image is meant to elicit a certain type of emotion and to encourage docile behavior.
There are those who are sharing this photo and reporting on this photo and others like it for the purposes of promoting the sort of “Can’t we all just get along” rhetorical idealism that derails many necessary social movements. That officer hugging that black child may evoke emotions, but it shouldn’t resonate deeper into our national consciousness than that video of an officer gunning down a different black child — Tamir Rice, a 12-year old in Cleveland who was murdered by cops last week after they were called to the scene by witnesses who saw him playing with a toy gun. If that picture moved you more than that video, I have to believe you are more interested in “peace” than justice. And that is unacceptable in times such as these.
All of the information coming from St Louis regarding this shooting seems to be comprised mostly of buzzwords and devoid of any type of real information. I’m beginning an outline of questions I have regarding this, and I think we all deserve the answers to them.
The shooting happened about 7:30 p.m. in the 4100 block of Shaw Boulevard in south St. Louis when the officer attempted a “pedestrian check,” St. Louis police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said in an email. Police did not elaborate on what a pedestrian check is or why it is done.
Jackson said the officer was working a department-approved security job and wearing his uniform when he confronted the pedestrian.
“The male suspect fled on foot,” Jackson said. “The officer pursued the suspect. The suspect turned and fired a gun at the officer. Fearing for his safety, the officer returned fire, striking the suspect, fatally wounding him. The officer was not injured.”
What is a “pedestrian check”?
I know most departments have a rule against officers moonlighting elsewhere, so I need a clearer definition of what a “department-approved security job” means. Was he acting as a police officer providing security for someone/something, or was his second job department-approved?
When they say he was wearing a uniform, what type of uniform was he wearing? Was he wearing a police uniform, or was he wearing a security guard uniform?
If a security guard were to try to detain me as I was minding my own business walking down the street with my sandwich, I’d probably tell him to go fuck himself, especially after the last “neighborhood watch guard” who made the news did so by killing his supposed suspect.
Some of the earlier statements published last night indicated that Myers was with a group of friends. Where are they? Have they been detained? Have they been questioned? Were they even stopped?
The headline on this St Louis Post-Dispatch article says that the officer was off-duty, but also states he was wearing a uniform. Again, we need clarification — police uniform or security guard uniform? And if he was off-duty, why was he performing a “pedestrian check”?
The article also states that there were a total of four people that the officer supposedly stopped to talk to. Again, why did he stop them? If he was on his second job working for a private security company, why did he suddenly switch gears back into police officer mode? Is that even legal?
There are more questions than answers in this situation, and with what already happened in Ferguson with the Mike Brown shooting, I don’t know if we will ever get any real answers.