Justice – “A concern for peace and genuine respect for people. The quality of being just, impartial, or fair.”
In a solemn courtroom in the predominantly-white enclave of Clayton, Missouri, justice was denied for the parents of Michael Brown.
“They determined that no probable cause exists to indict Darren Wilson,” St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said at a press conference Monday night that stung Black America and anyone interested in a just outcome.
No charges. No indictment. McCulloch said the fatal shooting of Michael Brown was justifiable self-defense.
After months of speculation, anxiety and anger, the worst fears for many African-Americans in the St. Louis metropolitan area – and across the country — were finally realized. A federal grand jury cleared Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of shooting and killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” according to a statement by Michael Brown’s family.
What’s troubling to many African Americans – including myself — is that the grand jury’s decision was no surprise. It’s a travesty, it’s a mockery of justice, but sadly, it’s not surprising. Cops in America are rarely indicted for on-duty shooting deaths of Black men. Wilson was no different. And many Black residents in St. Louis were already prepared for the worst.
A friend sent me a text after the grand jury’s decision and asked: “So why is Michael Brown dead?”
Never mind that Brown was unarmed. Never mind that witnesses told investigators that Brown’s hands were raised when Wilson shot him. Never mind that Brown may have been trying to surrender when Wilson fired at least six bullets into Brown, who was not carrying a weapon.
Wilson’s defense was that he feared for his life. Did he think Brown, who was unarmed, would choke him to death?
The Ferguson grand jury – a panel of nine whites and three blacks – did the judicial process a grave disservice and they denied justice for Brown’s parents, who desperately need closure. The Black community needs some sort of closure, too. They may not have known Michael Brown, but they have taken up his cause for judicial, and moral, fairness.
Even President Barack Obama weighed in Monday night.
“We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to the broader problems that we still face as a nation,” Obama said. “The fact is in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of legacy of racial discrimination in this country.”
My contention all along was this: Because there were so many variations of this tragic event – some witnesses said Brown’s hands were raised when he was shot, some say Brown was lunging at Wilson, forensic autopsies were inconclusive and complex – there is clearly reasonable doubt. And since there is reasonable doubt, Wilson should have been indicted, forced to stand trial, and a jury should have decided Wilson’s fate.
But this grand jury – a very powerful panel led by a controversial and overzealous prosecutor – never gave a jury the opportunity to do its work, preferring the end the matter in the Clayton courthouse where the entire case will be swept under the proverbial rug just days before Thanksgiving.
What part of “unarmed” didn’t the grand jury get?