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Michael Brown Shooting
On August 9, 2014, an unarmed 18-year-old black man was shot and killed by the police in Ferguson, Missouri. His name was Michael Brown.
There are two main accounts of this story: the side given by the police, and the side given by Brown’s friend. Leading up to the shooting, Officer Darren Wilson, the white cop responsible for Brown’s death, was responding to a call in the area when he came upon Michael Brown and a friend, Dorian Johnson in the street. According to police, one of the men allegedly pushed Wilson into his car and attacked him, and the attack became a struggle for the officer’s weapon. Several shots were fired before the struggle then spilled out onto the street, where an unarmed Brown, with his arms in the air, was shot multiple times.
According to Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, events happened somewhat differently. Allegedly he and Brown were walking in the street when Officer Wilson ordered them onto the sidewalk before grabbing Brown and trying to force him into the car, where several shots were fired. Brown tried to run away, even turning around, putting his hands in the air, and getting down, but Wilson fired his gun at him multiple times.
While there are different accounts of what happened, the fact still remains that a young, unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white cop. His body lay in the street untouched for hours, and residents of Ferguson gathered around for a vigil and to mourn the tragic loss of such a young life.
The following days, the protests began. Several hundred gathered outside the Ferguson Police headquarters, and things unfortunately quickly turned ugly. About three dozen people were arrested as crowds began to burn stores, vandalize property, and mock the police. The police responded strongly to these protests--even the peaceful ones. They used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds and even news reporters.
Brown’s death is an example of the racial bias in the criminal justice system, and this is a human rights issue. Racial minorities face prejudice that white people simply do not encounter. This inequality can be seen in every step of the process: from the likelihood that someone will be arrested to the type of punishment they will receive. Even the police reaction to the protests show exposed the racial tensions lurking in the criminal justice system. Their rough handling of civilians, especially peaceful civilians, showed a deep mistrust in the black community.
This kind of systemic injustice shows why stories like Michael Brown’s are so important. They expose the inherent racism in the criminal justice system and prove that things need to change on a systemic level. Michael Brown’s story, and stories like his, need to be shared. His loss needs to be remembered. Perhaps it can be a catalyst for change.
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