Years ago, I lived in Florissant, Missouri, a few miles from the scene of the current unrest in Ferguson. The neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the past ten years or so. That said, it is not unlike many major urban areas across the United States, where civility clearly hangs by a frayed thread.
Unfortunately, barely anyone is able to look at the tragic shooting of Michael Brown without strong emotions. Some lean strongly in support of officer Darren Wilson, believing reports of his testimony about what led to the shooting. Others absolutely back eyewitnesses claiming Brown was giving himself up, yet was murdered without mercy. The division between the two camps largely falls on racial lines.
The real evidence is yet to come, but people on both sides have already seated themselves as judge, jury, and executioner, either pronouncing Brown a thug, who deserved to die, or Wilson a cold-blooded killer who riddled an unarmed man.
Is racism overdone? Absolutely. And… not even close.
I remember traveling with a group of pastors to a John Piper conference in Minneapolis. When passing through security, only one of our group was pulled aside for extra screening—our black brother, who was smartly dressed in suit and tie, while most of us were rather casual. It definitely caused me to see his experience as different from my own. Was he profiled because of his skin color? There was sincerely little other difference between him and the rest of us.
Why are Americans of color so distrustful of men in uniform—including Darren Wilson—and so willing to believe the worst? Because in far too many cases they have suffered at their hands for no good or just reason.
Read these words from a Facebook friend—a Christian—who also grew up around Ferguson. Put yourself in his shoes, and those who share his skin color, and then tell me again how you immediately trust the officer’s story, and not the contrary witnesses. Read all the way through before you render judgment.
Please do not tell me how [officer] Wilson was ‘upholding’ the law. As well as you are telling the black community to give him due process, respect the pain we as a people have gone through for decades. My own brother was [dragged] from his car and assaulted in front of his 4 kids just a few weeks ago in Ferguson having committed no crime at all.
The church should simply pray for both sides of the issue and not touch any other area…
I once was pulled over on that same West Florissant Rd. I was taking 6 unsaved high school students to my dad’s church! We were pulled over by 2 (then later 3) squad cars, because we ‘looked suspicious’. They bent us over the car, pulled our pants down, pushed guns to the back of our heads and threatened to shoot because they could not believe that 7 black men would be going to church. We were harassed for about an hour and then sent on our way! Is that ok too?!?!!? Racism in any form is a sin and should be treated as such! It should not be supported in anyway.
This man has no reason to lie about these things—and his character is solid. If you were quick to support the officer’s account, does this context, perhaps, give you a bit of pause? Maybe this is another situation where there is no good vs. bad… but bad vs. bad.
I have to say, those who claim the police were “character assassins” by sharing the video of Michael Brown’s liquor store robbery, minutes before his death, don’t have a shred of credibility. No one “assassinated” Brown’s character—the video merely revealed it.
Given the way Brown used his 6’4″, 300-pound frame to abuse a much smaller man, while committing a brazen theft, we know he was a thug. Those defending him need to concede that point if they want anyone to take them seriously. The only question remaining is whether the police officer who gunned him down was just as much of a thug as Brown.
For that, we have to await the wheels of justice, which grind slowly.
In the meantime, let’s all contemplate our own assumptions about such situations, and try to learn something which will help build bridges in our own community, and to dialogue with those who put on a uniform to do a nigh impossible job of keeping the peace.
Let us pray for repentance on all sides. We know that is a gift our Creator is willing to grant, if we sincerely confess our deep need of it. All of us. Jesus is the Prince of Peace; let us bring this whole mess before Him for healing.