The Ferguson police have released a surveillance video showing that Michael Brown, shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson, was involved in a strong-arm robbery before the confrontation with police that ended his life.
Some people are claiming that this has nothing to do with the separate issue of his alleged wrongful death. Michael Curry, President of the Boston NAACP, said this:
“Even if this kid wasn’t perfect, the bottom line is whether he put his hands up and whether the police fired on an unarmed man. That should be the focus of this conversation — not what took place beforehand.”
Note the use of the word “kid” by Mr. Curry. Earlier in this same article, Brown was described as “an unarmed black teenager.” Most of the articles that I have read describe Brown in a similar fashion. In my mind, before I saw the still pictures of Brown in the video as he was in the process of robbing the market, I visualized him as a skinny, young black teenager with an innocent face. We don’t often associate a “kid” with criminal activity but one of innocence and goodness.
As I read more articles (again, before seeing the pictures of Brown), my first reaction was to look upon his death with suspicion; I was genuinely swayed by the opinions of others who reported that Brown was ruthlessly gunned down by the police officer.
The “Hand’s up, don’t shoot!” rallies that were held around the country further influenced me. How could this innocent young black teenager, who possibly just started puberty and didn’t need to shave, have been so brutally gunned down when he had his hands up in the air for the officer to see?
Then I saw the pictures from the surveillance video and began to dig deeper into this story. I noted that Brown was nothing like the mental picture I had conjured up: no skinny, acne-scarred toothpick of a teenager but a full grown giant of a man, 6’4″ and 292 pounds. The way he bullied and assaulted the convenience store clerk for the box of Swisher Sweet cigars wiped out any remaining sympathy I had for this criminal. And once we go from believing a “kid” was ambushed by power-hungry cops to seeing a criminal robbing a store and bullying the store clerk, our perspectives instantly change.
Why does the media insist on calling this dead criminal a “teenager”? Because it feeds into their strategy of coloring the facts, of creating a fictional character out of someone who did not exist, and feeding into the “victim mentality” of so many in the black community.
I was genuinely duped by the media’s systematic shading of the facts in this sad case. I would not have been surprised to learn that Brown, before being gunned down by this racist cop, was studiously cramming for his entrance exams into some university following his high-school graduation. Was I ever deceived.
Evidently, facts matter little to lawyer Benjamin L. Crump, who is representing the parents of the deceased. “There is nothing based on [the] facts that have been placed before us that would justify the execution-style murder,” he said. He also claimed that Brown’s parents were “beyond outraged” at the allegations. Crump then described the release of police records as an “old game of smoke and mirrors” that the police often use to tilt the facts in their favor in such circumstances.
The claim that Brown’s involvement in robbing this convenience store has nothing to do with the subsequent deadly altercation with the police is absurd. In fact, it has everything to do with what happened—it shines needed light on what might have took place in the patrol car which ultimately led to his death.
For example, if Brown bullied the store clerk, its possible such intimidation tactics were part of his method of operation. At the least, it shows that Brown was capable of such behavior, far from the innocent lamb he was earlier portrayed as.
Brown’s family, according to this NBC post, called the death of Brown a “brutal assassination.” The article continues:
“The family said in a statement: ‘There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.'”
Note this carefully worded statement loaded with language intended to provoke reactions and emotions: ‘…justify the execution style murder of their child,’ ‘as he held his hands up…the universal sign of surrender.'”
These words are a rush to judgment, intended to incite heated emotions from this community. The officer who shot and killed Brown, like any accused of such a crime, is “innocent until proven guilty,” and this only if he is found at fault. The officer has not been charged with any crime, so why the incendiary language of “execution style” and “murder of their child”?There is no credible evidence that Brown was “murdered” “execution style.” And Brown, as seen, is no “child.”
It is clear what is happening: the family and community are using this tragic incident as an opportunity to lash out against what they feel are injustices against them from this predominantly all white police department. Do their grievances have a legitimate foundation? Perhaps they do, but intentionally whipping up emotions by employing language that cannot possibly, at this point in the investigation, be verified is irresponsible and has contributed to the looting, violence and destruction of property that has occurred.
Those making these irresponsible statements, and those publishing them, knowing full well the reactions they will cause, must share in the blame for the mayhem that has followed.