Differing Realities and Ferguson, Missouri

Differing Realities and Ferguson, MissouriA spokesperson for the St. Louis County District Attorney’s office announced that on August 20, 2014 the grand jury may begin hearing evidence about the August 9th fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Good! At this juncture, some witnesses utterly condemn the police officer – Darren Wilson – for deadly police brutality. Meanwhile, other witnesses and the police officer present a version that makes the officer’s lethal actions seem reasonable and even heroic. Then again, the truth could be somewhere between those two scenarios. What a relief that the Justice System wheels are turning and we’re closer to knowing whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified or unjustified in shooting Brown.

Will the Justice System ultimately make peace between those labeling Michael Brown a large, intimidating and violent thug who deserved to die and those branding Officer Darren Wilson a racist murderer? That is doubtful.

I apparently occupy a different reality than that of the Ferguson rioters and do not understand them. In my world: an on-duty police officer of any race enforces the law and accordingly has special rights & duties that a layperson of any race does not possess; sometimes officers will stop you while you’re walking or driving and they will ask questions, always carrying loaded guns and sometimes even loaded rifles (living very near an international border notorious for human trafficking, that occasionally happens to me); you do not argue with or otherwise disrespect an on-duty cop, unless you want trouble; if a police officer is a jerk or worse, fix his/her butt later through other means, not while he/she is holding most of the power and all the weapons; a 6-year police veteran with a recent commendation for “extraordinary effort in the line of duty” and no prior disciplinary actions is believable and you tend to rely on his/her version of events; you do not rob a convenience store by force (a felony in Missouri); you do not deliberately intimidate a store clerk; you do not walk in the street and obstruct traffic; you immediately comply with simple, reasonable orders by law enforcement officers; you do not strike or struggle with a police officer, reach for his/her gun or charge at him/her (at least the first 2 being felonies in Missouri); if your behavior creates a reasonably perceived threat of great bodily harm or death, a police officer is allowed to stop the threat, even if it means shooting you until the threat stops; if you commit a felony and try to escape a police officer, he/she is allowed to stop you from escaping, even if it means shooting you; Michael Brown may or may not have broken some or all of those rules; each incident deserves its own investigation and treatment by the Justice System; if you believe a police officer broke the law, you don’t get to break the law; if the Justice System finds that a police officer broke the law, so be it, and he/she will be punished; if the Justice System finds that a police officer obeyed the law, so be it, and he/she will not be punished; race is irrelevant to all those rules; I was not allowed to formulate the rules. That is my genuine reality.

In the apparent world of the Ferguson rioters (an admitted series of guesses on my part): rather than enforcing the law, police often bring injustice, chaos and death, especially when dealing with nonwhites; Michael Brown’s death is merely 1 example of widespread lethal police brutality; the Judicial System is rigged against nonwhites; if you are frustrated by police brutality and an unjust “justice system,” you can violently break the law.

How will our widely differing realities ever be resolved? Many of us seem willing to let the Justice System decide this case. Perhaps the additional contributions of multiple investigations by the Justice Department and private professionals hired by Brown’s family will compel the Ferguson rioters to accept the ultimate findings.

By Kathy Catanzarite


Source: Kathy Catanzarite – Handelonthelaw.com Staff Writer

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