Ferguson, Mo., grand jury verdict stirred local indignation
Congresswoman Wilson, Eboni People and Rev. Dr. Davidson
By Derek Joy
The result surprised only the extremely hopeful and the naïve residents of America.
So, when the Grand Jury refused to indict White Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, a Black unarmed teenager on Aug. 9, the practical and realistic citizens weren’t surprised.
Nor was there much surprise when the protests turned into rioting.
“I am left numbed and saddened by the Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager,” said Congress-woman Frederica S. Wilson, (Dem., Dist 24).
“How many more young Black men have to die before there is an end to the mistreatment of people of color? Where is the justice for Michael Brown and the thousands of Black men who have died in a similar manner?”
That is precisely what protesters and rioters sought to convey in Ferguson. And it was what Missouri’s Republican Governor Jay Mixon intended to prevent when he prematurely ordered the police and the National Guard on full scale standby prior to the verdict.
“They were trying to make them look bad, but they didn’t,” Miami Dade resident Wyman Lamar said, following the first night of rioting in Ferguson. “There were only two buildings burning. The police could have moved those people back a block or two and let the firefighters in to put out the fires.
“They had all those police just standing around doing nothing. There was no justice. They didn’t give the people all the facts. They didn’t believe the witnesses who said Michael Brown was trying to give up. The grand jury didn’t do it’s job. There ain’t no justice.”
Eboni Peoples, a pre-med student at Florida International University, echoed much the same perception.
“Oh, my God,” said Peoples, who volunteers with the Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease, and helps coordinate their 5K Run at Ft. Lauder-dale’s Central Regional Park. “I’m so upset I lost my appetite.
“I thought we had the right to a peaceful protest. All I see on the news is police throwing tear gas. Where are the Constitutional rights? I was born in the 1980’s, heard and studied history of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Seems I’m watching history first hand, seems like history is repeating itself.”
There were also questions as to why the Grand Jury, rather than the State Attorney in Ferguson, or the Missouri Attorney General, handled the case.
“The State Attorney should have handled that case,” said Charles Cutler, a community activist in Miami Dade County. “When the grand jury handles a case everything is done in secrecy. It was done that way to make sure that police officer (Darren Wilson) wasn’t indicted.”
The looting, burning and destruction of property in Ferguson has increased in the days since the grand jury verdict. However, Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department. His wife remains on duty.
“We must break this tragic pattern of predictability,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “We cannot afford a repeat of the past. Black lives matter. People of color have the right to feel safe in their neighborhoods or wherever they may be and not fear the very people sworn to serve and protect them.”
For Irene Edwards, a faithful member of Soul Saving M.B. Church in Liberty City, it wasn’t justice.
Said Edwards: “I really don’t know what to think. Sometimes I see one side, and sometimes I see the other side. But I do know they should have given that police (Darren Wilson) some time.”
Perhaps, much of America can gain insight and resolve in the perspective offered by Reverend Dr. Marcus D. Davidson of the New Mount Olive Baptist Church, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: “In reflecting on the recent decision of the grand jury not to indict, I am intrigued by the vast perspective of responses that have been expressed by both the African American community and white community. I think most are inclined to look at the race as the primary issue. How-ever, I believe that Fergson, Mo. and our nation as a whole have more than just a racial or even an economical issue. Although, those are relevant issues, we are dealing with a spiritual issue.
As tragic as these events and others are and have been, they should incline us to bend our posture to God in a way that we have not in many years. I believe we just deal with our issues spiritually before we can really deal with the other issues that are so prevalent in our society and communities.
I believe parents and police must look to God for guidance. But also, the religious community must hold not only police and parents accountable, but we must seek to correct a broken judicial system and a divided political system. However, I believe there is hope. As dark and dismal as all of these events are, we have a God that is still sovereign and transcendent. In the book of Jeremiah, we can find words of comfort and strength.”
The Bible states, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and those whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit”.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NASB)