Michael Brown, 18, lost his life to former policeman Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. What made this shooting so controversial, besides the fact that the altercation between Brown and Wilson escalated to the six shots that killed him, was that the victim was black and the policeman was white.
The rest of the world saw the colors of the two involved, instead of a policeman trying to do his job and protecting himself. This has always been an issue for the rest of the world to grasp. We like to say that segregation is over or that we want to end racism, but we constantly contradict ourselves.
Protests and riots erupted all around the U.S. after the hearing on Nov. 24 relieved Wilson of all potential punishment. Hundreds and hundreds of people flooded the streets of major cities across America, protesting the untimely death of an innocent black man.
Windows of local businesses were broken and bonfires sprouted throughout the streets of downtown Oakland. The Oakland Police Department was present to prevent any further damage to the city.
Protestors and the rest of the world turned this into a race issue. People have said that Brown was “innocent,” and in that sense his death is wrong, but since he was black the issue became bigger than it needed to be. All the destruction and anger is all unnecessary.
Why do we do this? Every time a person of color is killed, the situation is blown out of proportion. Hundreds of people are murdered every year, but when anything like this happens, we tend to ignore those other deaths and focus on the ones that involve race.
Another similar situation was the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida on Feb. 26, 2012. Martin was shot while walking in his community when a neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman thought he looked suspicious. The two got into a disagreement, which resulted in Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest. Later, the court decided there wasn’t enough evidence to refute Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
This was an unfortunate, unnecessary situation, but when it hit the news, the rest of the world blew it out of proportion. Just like the Ferguson protests, many took to social media to express their thoughts about a white man shooting a “suspicious” black kid. Our society took a deadly miscommunication between two individuals and totally changed it.
The news cycle during the time of the Martin shooting was primarily filled with interviews with his parents and the debate over racism in the U.S.
Recent protests over Ferguson reached the intersection of 5th and Market streets on the night of Black Friday. SFPD was prepared with helmets and batons ready to protect themselves if needed. One sign read ‘Black Lives Matter.’ This reinforced the idea that race is always an issue.
The protestors were not fighting the fact the policeman was trying to do his job, but the fact that a black man was innocently shot. Due to many threats, officer Wilson resigned on Nov. 29.
The end of racism in the United States could be near, but if instances like this keep occurring then it will never cease to be an issue. The problem is that people see color instead of crime. In order to change it, we need to stop connecting situations like these back to race. We need to focus on the real problem, which is a cop shooting an innocent civilian.