“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
Last night a Grand Jury declared Officer Wilson was innocent of all charges related to him shooting and killing Michael Brown. If you watched any news, you know that all hell broke loose in Ferguson. Buildings were set on fire, guns were being shot, the FAA stopped all flights over Ferguson, windows were smashed and businesses were looted. No doubt this will spur on debate and bad rhetoric just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. No doubt this will cause more than a few families to have some heated conversation over turkey and mashed potatoes. One thing should be clear, this isn't about justice, at least not for Michael Brown.
Disclaimer, I don't live in the south and I want to recognize that there may be a significant cultural aspect of this that I am unfamiliar with because I grew up in Minnesota and I now live in Colorado. However, when one considers the facts of the case, the message of the Brown family, and contrasts that with rioting and looting, it becomes abundantly clear that this isn't really about justice.
I am sure others will lay out a detailed review of the evidence in the case, but the grand jury had access to all the relevant evidence and those 12 people said there was no reasonable doubt that Officer Wilson was justified in taking Michael Browns life according to the laws on the books. Furthermore, the protests were being planned long before the grand jury made known their decision. The outcome didn't matter, they were going to riot anyway, even though the Brown family asked people not to riot, loot, and so on.
If it is not about justice, what is it about? This is a much more complicated question. For some it is just an excuse to be lawless. For others this may be the result of pent up frustration because of real or perceived injustices in the past. Some probably just like to watch the world burn.
In the end, this kind of behavior is not civil disobedience, its an excuse to loot, vandalize, and who knows what else. This kind of behavior would disgust Martin Luther King Jr. If justice is what people seek, then a careful look at the evidence before rushing to judgment is what is warranted. Planning protests and riots before the evidence has been released is irresponsible. If there is a systemic problem in the south that is not present in the north or west crying foul where there doesn't seem to be one will make things worse not better.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.