With the Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police
Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, the demagogues in our midst have again
come out of the woodwork, eager to once again play the race card. One more time, they have
again raised the old time-worn charges of racism, racial profiling, oppression of blacks, and
the rampant murdering of blacks by whites. The truth remains that while the killing of Michael
Brown is truly a tragedy, the much greater tragedy lies is the horrendous number of blacks
killed on a daily basis in this country – and the fact that most of these killings of blacks
are committed by other blacks – not by white vigilantes, not by white policemen, not by
Following the announcement of the grand jury decision, violence
erupted in the St. Louis area and in other cities across the nation. Immediately after the
announcement of the verdict, more than 80 arrests were made in the St. Louis area, as protesters fired more
than 100 gunshots and burned and looted as many as 25 buildings and vandalized police cars
in Ferguson, Mo.
These events recall what transpired following the 2012 shooting of a
17-year-old black youth, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman,
in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of charges against him and rioting and
protests took place after the verdict was announced.
Back in 2011, hundreds or thousands of protestors demonstrated
against corporate greed, global warming and social inequality, among other grievances in
what became known as the “Occupy Wall Street Movement.” These muddled headed and disorganized
individuals accomplished little except to antagonize the majority of thinking Americans and
to discredit their movement. The rioters, arsonists, looters and misguided protesters that
have taken part in protesting the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown killing are not different.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd (OWS) and their followers were delusional. So are the Michael
Brown protesters. Organizing protests to block traffic or confront law enforcement authorities
accomplishes nothing except to glean bad publicity and incur the animosity of most rational
Legitimate protests are a time-honored American tradition, but
blocking traffic, looting businesses, burning down buildings and torching cars does not
constitute legitimate protest. What we have witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere
around the nation is nothing but a call to vigilante justice by perpetual agitators,
malcontents, “professional” protestors, and closet anarchists.
I wasn’t present in Ferguson when Officer Darren Wilson shot and
killed Michael Brown - neither were any of the people protesting his killing.
I wasn’t in the grand jury room during the months of testimony and presentation of evidence
in the case - neither were any of the people protesting his killing.
The only people who have heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence were the
12 people on that grand jury. The grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been
meeting weekly for over three months to consider evidence in the fatal shooting of the
18-year old Michael Brown. The panel met for 70 hours and heard from 60 witnesses. Those
jurors, and only those jurors, had the right to judge whether or not to indict Officer
Wilson. They were the only people who heard every witness and reviewed all the evidence.
The undisciplined protesters now rising up in indignation and who remain ignorant of the
facts in the case deserve no respect or support for their actions. They prejudged Officer Wilson and
found him guilty without a trial, without hearing all the testimony, and without being
presented with the evidence in the case. Shame on them! America does not
need vigilante or mob justice – it has a system of justice that is fair to all. We all
need to let the system do its work and we need to abide by the verdicts that are produced
by this system. There are more appropriate means of appeal than irrational protests and
the violence that nearly always accompanies these protests.
The English and American concept of a trial by jury means that
guilt or innocence of the accused is to be determined by a jury of one’s peers after all
evidence for and against the accused is presented. While the American system of justice
presupposes innocence, it does not mean that one is innocent. It simply means that guilt
must be proven during the trial. The determination of guilt or innocence awaits the conclusion
of the trial and the verdict by the jury.
This concept appears to be incomprehensible to a number of people in
this country. We see, read and hear about people proclaiming the guilt or innocence of
persons on trial and also their victims before a trial even begins and before all of the
facts in the case become known. Such behavior smacks of gross stupidity, ignorance,
prejudice, and/or a total disregard/disdain for the English and American concepts of
justice and the law.
All too often today, we have “trials by tabloids” or “trials by
media”, when media outlets create a widespread perception of an individual’s guilt or
innocence through the release of prejudicial material before any trial actually takes place.
The sensationalism that frequents today’s media severely threatens the judicial system’s
ability to render an unbiased verdict in many cases. All too often, people decide on the
guilt or innocence of the accused long before the actual facts are presented at trial or
in grand jury hearings.
Prior to and during the trial, our judicial system requires a
presumption of innocence on the part of the accused. It is up to the prosecution to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. Adverse pre-trial publicity and media
bias are inimical to the American system of justice – freedom of the press should not foster
a lynch-mob mentality in the public.
What needs to be addressed more than the guilt or innocence of
Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman and what would be more appropriate as the focus of a
protest is the fact that black-on-black crime is a serious national tragedy that is unfortunately
swept under the rug by those more concerned with elevating their own racially-driven agendas
than addressing the real issues at hand. The Michael Brown shooting is only the most recent
example of this fact.
Grim statistics support a very different narrative than the one
usually offered by those who routinely portray an America where members of the Black Community
are selectively targeted and brutalized by white racists. Remember, we are talking about a
situation in which one white police officer killed one Black American. How often does this
happen? Such events tend to occur perhaps once a year or two or even less frequently.
Much more significantly, a 2007 report from the Bureau of Justice
Statistics shows that 8,000 to 10,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United
States. Also contained in the report is the fact that 93% of these murders are perpetrated
by other blacks. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, African
Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively
at the hands of other African Americans. While the killing of any teenager, white or black,
is deplorable, far more deplorable are the daily killings of young and old members of the
black communities in many of America’s large cities. And, these killings are rarely committed
by members of the white community. Yet, the protestors in the Michael Brown killing rail against
the grand jury decision exonerating one white police officer in the death of one African American.
Let the protesters protest against the really significant problem – one where the facts
are incontrovertible. In reference to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida by
a white neighborhood watch volunteer, the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, quite
correctly stated that the outrage should be about blacks killing each other and about black-on-black
Officer Darren Wilson may or may not have killed Michael Brown in
self-defense. George Zimmerman may or may not have killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
Apparently unbiased juries have decided that both Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman acted
in self-defense. But, whether or not they did should no longer be the focus. What
should be the main focus of our attention – and protests - is the much larger issue of how
to stop 10,000 blacks from being killed each and every year – most of them by other
Those who are spreading the venom of racism are no friends
of the black community. They distract the black community and their supporters from
attacking and solving the real problem. While these protesters rant and rave and stir up
racial animosity, thousands more of young blacks are being killed. These professional
hate-mongers keep the pot of racial hatred boiling. Their divisive actions direct attention
away from the real issues and waste the energies of the black community and their
well-intentioned, but blissfully ignorant supporters. America needs to ignore and
condemn those trouble-making vultures who are always in need of a cause – and, in this case,
that cause is disunity and race-based animosity. We need to ignore the call for
vigilante or mob justice and we need to keep our eyes on the real prize – the end to the
killing of 10,000 African Americans each year.