Stop Using Michael Brown’s Corpse As Your Racial Mascot

Michael Brown is being used as a racial mascot for anger, not for justice.

Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” – Benjamin Franklin

Now comes the requisite Ferguson article. What can be said about this issue that hasn’t already been said? How about this: stop looting, stop burning down buildings, stop harming innocent people, stop behaving as if you have no conscience, and no capacity to reason, and stop using this incident as an excuse to pretend like you care about racial injustice in America. That’s what I would ask of those in Ferguson who are behaving like Hell’s Angels on speed. You are not helping your cause in any way.

But let me ask you this: what is your cause? Presumably, your cause is racial injustice. But what does that mean, and how does that apply in Ferguson? Let’s go over the case. On August 9th, 2014, 18 year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. There were differing accounts of what took place. Some witnesses alleged that Michael Brown had been shot in the back as he was running away from officer Wilson, while some said he had turned around, and put his hands up in surrender prior to being killed. Officer Wilson alleged that Brown was the aggressor, attacking him, and trying to take away his firearm.

As far as can be reasonable told, officer Wilson was a good man. I don’t mean that he was perfect, because no one is, but he was seemingly reasonable, and competent at his profession. In an August 23rd article for the Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Kimberly Kindy, and Joel Achenbach dig into the history of officer Darren Wilson. The piece paints a picture of an officer with a difficult past, but one who was capable, and decent.

People who know him describe him as someone who grew up in a home marked by multiple divorces and tangles with the law. His mother died when he was in high school. A friend said a career in law enforcement offered him structure in what had been a chaotic life…Officials say Wilson kept a clean record without any disciplinary action…Wilson won a commendation this year after he subdued a man who was found to be involved in a drug transaction, and he was honored in a ceremony in the Town Council chambers…A family friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of threats, said Wilson sought out a career in law enforcement as a way to create a solid foundation in his life that he’d been missing. ‘He had a rough upbringing and just wanted to help people,’ the friend said. In Wilson’s childhood, ‘there was just no structure.’…

The conclusion seemingly reached in the Post piece is that Darren Wilson is a decent, if unremarkable man, living in a potentially difficult situation. His fellow officers were mostly white, but as far as can be seen, Wilson himself didn’t harbor any outward animosity toward the black community.

Over the course of the Grand Jury hearing, there were several information leaks that made it appear as though Darren Wilson’s account of the shooting was the more accurate one. Forensic evidence showed that all shots fired entered Brown from the front, indicating that he was not running away, as some had alleged. Other evidence was leaked which ran contrary to the notion that officer Wilson was the aggressor, including this from the Washington Post:

Forensic evidence shows Michael Brown’s blood on the gun, on the uniform and inside the car of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, law enforcement officials said, information they believe potentially corroborates the officer’s story that the unarmed 18-year-old tried to take his gun.”

The New York Times reports that witness testimony was key to the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Wilson:

The most credible eyewitnesses to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., said he had charged toward Police Officer Darren Wilson just before the final, fatal shots, the St. Louis County prosecutor said Monday night as he sought to explain why a grand jury had not found probable cause to indict the officer. The accounts of several other witnesses from the Ferguson neighborhood…changed over time or were inconsistent with physical evidence, the prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, said in a news conference.”

As we all know, there was no indictment. The Grand Jury spent over 25 days, listening to over 70 hours of witness testimony from 60 witnesses, they poured over forensic evidence, and came to the conclusion that officer Wilson most likely acted in self defense. Once again, from The New York Times:

The fact that at least nine members of the 12-member panel could not agree to indict the officer indicates that they accepted the narrative of self-defense put forth by Officer Wilson in his voluntary, four hours of testimony before the grand jury. Mr. McCulloch, in his summary of the months of testimony, said it was supported by the most reliable eyewitness accounts — from African-Americans in the vicinity of the shooting — as well as physical evidence and the consistent results of three autopsies.

This was certainly a difficult case, one with undoubtedly murky qualities. But while the case was demanding to navigate, the ultimate conclusion was that Darren Wilson acted in self defense, and that Michael Brown was indeed the aggressor. In the end, it seems as though race had nothing to do with the death of Michael Brown. But that’s not what people want to hear.

We are a country with a troubled past, and one that still deals with racial injustice daily. No one is arguing that racism doesn’t still exist. But in this specific case, at this specific time, racism wasn’t the cause of death. So why is there looting? Why is there arson? Why is there general thuggery? Because people want an excuse to be angry.

I want to go back to my original question: what is your cause? If you are rioting against the machine, the system which you allege oppresses you, why do it now? There is no indication that racism had anything to do with the death of Michael Brown, yet you are using his corpse as your mascot.

According to Ildefonso Ortiz of Breitbart:

A Little Ceasar’s Pizza and a Walgreens are the latest victims as violent protests turn into anarchy as rioters have begun setting fire to buildings. News reports and Twitter users claim that the Little Ceasar’s Pizza on West Florisant in Ferguson, has gone up in flames, while Breitbart News reporter Christian Hartsock reported that a Walgreen has been set on fire by looters. News reports have begun to show video of other buildings on fire while multiple businesses including stores, pharmacies and car part stores continue to be looted by rioters. So far, cars have been set on fire, police cars have been vandalized, shots have been fired, and police have responded with bean bags and gas canisters.”

This is a disgusting misuse of an unfortunate death. You are using Michael Brown as your racial victim proxy so that you may act out against businesses, and people with whom you have no disagreement. You are doing incredible damage to your community by stoking racial tension where there shouldn’t be any. Furthermore, by behaving like animals in defiance of the evidence, you are taking a long history of oppression, and instances of actual modern racism, and reducing them to less than nothing. You are undermining everything you allegedly stand for, all because you just want to be angry about something. You are undermining acts of real racism in modern society by elevating the death of Michael Brown, and it is doing incredible damage. Your behavior is vile, and disgusting, and it only furthers the confusion that already pervades modern American racial tensions. Where is the anger about black on black crime? Where is the anger about instances of actual racism? Where is the anger about the state of the black community after years of programs designed to help it have done the exact opposite?

Michael Brown was killed; Darren Wilson was not in the wrong; stop acting like animals based on something that never happened. There are plenty of issues about which to be angry in this country, and some of them do indeed have to do with race, but this is not one of them. Stop using Michael Brown’s corpse as an excuse to behave like monsters, stop burning down buildings, and use your brains to think for more than two seconds about this case, and its ramifications. Do this, and maybe some light will emerge out of this darkness which you have brought upon the city of Ferguson. You should be deeply ashamed.