Plastered all over the news and social media platforms is the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Two years ago, Trayvon Martin, unarmed, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, 31y/o white male, again found not guilty. 18 year old Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot at 17 times by a white off-duty officer in St. Louis on 9th October 2014. Whilst there has been dispute over whether Myers was armed or not, the officer claimed to have been fired at twice, whilst others claimed Myers was holding a sandwich. Either way, shooting an 18 year old 17 times can not be justified whether he was armed or not. Yesterday, in Cleveland, 12 year old Tamir Rice who was reported holding a fake pellet gun near a playground was fatally shot at twice by a white police officer who was standing less than 10 feet away from him. These are only the cases that have made it out to the public eye. It should be obvious to see that there is in fact a large amount of racial prejudice still very much alive in America and that should be worrying.
The fact that there are people crying out against the peaceful turned violent protests in Ferguson after violent retaliation from the police for justice for Michael Brown, when there was no outcry against the Pumpkin Fest riots where there were bottles and other objects were being hurled directly at the police, vandalism, damaged properties, and fires. However, these were seen as mischief by college kids.
“That kind of comparison is really important because it’s those attitudes that make state violence possible,” Murch said. “White youth are allowed to be children and have a sense of protection no matter how they behave, while black youth are criminalized by justice system. They’re not allowed to have childhoods.” [x]
I think the issue goes deeper than that also. It is vital to also look at the judicial system in America. Marissa Alexander, 33 black women, shot a warning shot to the ceiling in front of her estranged husband, was sentenced to 20 years in prison under aggravated assault, and after the retrial in December this year, could be sentenced to 60 years. This is a woman who shot a firing shot, without injuring anyone, for her own safety, and was sentenced to 20 years. A white, male officer, who shot an black, unarmed 18 year old six times walked free today, unscathed, with 400k in his pockets from donations of the KKK and Neo Nazis. There’s a problem here. If the officer were to use the defense that he genuinely felt threatened, then any police officer who has received training, if need be, would shoot once, maybe twice, in nonlethal areas of the body where it would temporarily cripple the threat. Understandable. However, no matter which way this situation is to be looked at, shooting Michael Brown 6 times is redundant and calls attention to potential ulterior motive. How is it that the law allows a white man who shot and killed a black 18 year old to get away free of charge, and sentences 20 years – and possibly 60 years in the retrial in December – a black woman, who did not harm to her abusive husband, but fired warning shots for her safety?
Not only is it important to acknowledge this issue in the judicial system, it is also important to acknowledge the bias in media coverage. Adam Lanza, 20 year old, was guilty of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre back in 2012. The media reported him of suffering from mental illnesses. Motives for Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harries’ Columbine High School massacre was because he was bullied. In the winter 2000 issue of the journal 49th parallel, Nick Turse, an investigative journalist, said that Klebold and Harries were modern revolutionaries. The way that these mass murderes have been portrayed as misunderstood people and the fact that there have been people who have sympathised with these murderers shows that there is a real issue in the way that people are being portrayed in the media. This is not to dispute the very real issue of mental illnesses and how these illnesses should not be taboo and should be medically dealt with, but these murderers should not be sympathised with because they have a mental illness.
On the other hand, Front Page Mag calls Michael Brown ‘A Criminal and A Thug’ [x] despite Michael Brown being the victim of a fatal shooting. In an attempt to make Michael Brown out to be a thug, conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson hacked Michael Brown’s social media and posted photos of what he thought to be evidence against the ‘gentle giant’ nick name for Michael Brown that went viral, only to have it compared to photos that other teenagers post online by another blogger . See photos here: [x]
The contrast in the media needs to be changed. We should not be sympathising with men who massacre children in school. We should not be trying to find ways of digging up every single misdemeanour a black kid has committed in a rough neighbourhood in order to justify a white police officer who shot him 6 times. America’s judicial system needs to be unbiased and unprejudiced. Racism is a glaring problem that still exists today. I want justice for Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers Jr, Tahir Rice, Marissa Alexander, and all the other black victims of racial prejudice. Black lives matter.
Featured Image Credit: [x]
Written by: Mint Kovavisarach