A year after he robbed a store and then assaulted a police officer, Michael Brown has a permanent plaque in Ferguson, Missouri. While police brutality is a serious issue, the fact is that there is absolutely no evidence that Brown’s killing had anything to do with race, or with overzealous law enforcement. This week, there are more riots in Ferguson as this thug is being treated as a hero, even a martyr.
While Ferguson was already a powder keg waiting to detonate, fuel was thrown on the fire by none other than Al Sharpton (remember Tawana Brawley?). Sharpton’s rhetoric and lies whipped the public into a frenzy that led to rioting and the declaration of martial law. Despite the fact that there is no indication that race played a role in the death of Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson was vilified while the criminal he shot was put on a pedestal that he didn’t deserve.
The Department of Justice released their findings after they investigated the shooting, and the forensic evidence conclusively shows that Officer Darren Wilson was attacked by Michael Brown, and that all the shots fired were in self-defense. The “Hands up, don’t shoot” was a fabrication, as was the story that Brown was shot in the back—in reality, he was shot after he punched Officer Wilson, attempted to take his service weapon, and then continued down the street. He then turned around and charged at the officer, and was fatally shot. I’ll admit that I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure that assaulting a police officer and trying to take his gun—and then continuing to try to attack the officer—is a good way to get yourself shot, no matter what you look like. Despite what Al Sharpton appears to think, it seems highly unlikely that Officer Wilson thought to himself: “Hmm, I could just end this non-lethally, but he’s black, so I’ll just shoot first and ask questions later.” The fact is that Michael Brown would have been shot because of his actions, regardless of race, gender, or anything else, because he was assaulting a police officer. The report by the Medical Examiner shows that Brown’s injuries were all consistent with Officer Brown’s version of the events.
Every time a black person is killed by a white person, we shouldn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that race was involved. Doing that just makes us—you guessed it—racist. Al Sharpton doesn’t care about that, as he has repeatedly demonstrated. He’ll take advantage of any situation, no matter the consequences, as long as it allows him to line his pockets and be in the spotlight. People like this are the only ones to benefit from tragedies, and do far more damage than the good that they pretend to be doing. It’s frankly disgraceful that he is so widely respected. As The New York Times reported last year:
Mr. Sharpton got his start preaching in Brooklyn churches at age 4. As a young man, he worked at the side of the soul singer James Brown, where he met a backup singer, Kathy, who would become his wife. By the 1980s, however, he was becoming increasingly involved in fiery activism on behalf of black people hurt by the police or members of other racial groups, sometimes making outlandish accusations. He accused an upstate New York prosecutor, Steven A. Pagones, of being part of a group of white men whom he said had abducted and raped the teenager Tawana Brawley, an allegation that a grand jury report showed had been fabricated.
He often used strident language that many saw as inflaming racial tensions. During rallies at the Slave Theater in Brooklyn, he characterized black people who disagreed with him as “yellow niggers” and called white people “crackers.” After a car in a prominent Hasidic rabbi’s motorcade jumped a curb in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn and killed a 7-year-old black boy in 1991, Mr. Sharpton referred to the neighborhood’s Hasidic Jews as “diamond merchants.” In 1995, he referred to a Harlem businessman who wanted to expand his store into a space that had been occupied by a black-owned business as a “white interloper.”
This type of race-baiting only serves to divide our country at a time when we should be trying to unite. His brand of racism drives a wedge into any progress made in recent years, and it’s all due to his shameless greed. When evidence shows that racism actually played a role, I completely support prosecuting those involved, to the fullest extent of the law. But don’t invent racism that doesn’t exist, particularly in a case as clear-cut as the Michael Brown shooting was.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has some interesting statistics about violent crimes (these stats do not include homicides):
During the unrest in Missouri after Michael Brown’s death, a white man was beaten to death by a group of hammer-wielding black teenagers who were allegedly screaming “Kill the white people”. Where was Al Sharpton’s outrage when that happened? He must have been too busy that day. It’s his exact brand of hypocrisy and manufactured, righteous outrage that does only one thing: it prevents us from moving forward into a future that isn’t plagued by racism. Things are bad enough, without creating false accusations, just so that some hucksters can make a few more dollars by taking advantage of tears shed by families during tragic circumstances.
Ironically, while protesting the death of Michael Brown, his supporters endangered the lives of people who were actually innocent. In several major U.S. cities, major streets were closed due to protesters lying down. This led to a man in Berkeley, CA dying because ambulances were prevented from reaching him in time. In Boston, a hospital was actually closed due to the protesters blocking access:
So a hospital is now "closed" because of the protesters? Hope none of them get hit by a car and need an ambulance. pic.twitter.com/DE5SYeiExZ
— Blackie (@BostonsBlackie) November 26, 2014
Of course law enforcement officers are subject to human emotions and prejudices, but they also do an incredibly dangerous job. Just because someone feels too entitled to respect police, it doesn’t give those people a right to disobey officers. When split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death, it’s not fair to second-guess someone when all the evidence overwhelmingly shows that he was acting in self-defense. While racist police officers certainly exist, and it’s shameful, we can’t just automatically assume—especially in light of the facts—that race always plays a role. We owe it to ourselves as a society to be better than that.