I watched with morbid fascination as the violence begin and grew in a short period of time following the announcement of the findings of the Grand Jury in the death of Michael Brown. I watched as the group of people, allegedly outraged at the decision, begin to break into, loot, and burn a number of businesses in Ferguson Missouri. I have to admit, I did not see much rage in the group of looters. In fact, most participants appeared to be having a good time. There was smiles and laughter. I immediately began to wonder if they were there because they were outraged by the perception that black males are killed by white cops at a disproportionate rate? Where they there because of the Grand Jury findings? Or where they there because the opportunity to riot, loot, and burn presented itself. Should not the business owners, who lost all they had, been outraged? What was their response?
There have been countless words written about why male blacks are killed by white police officers. I feel, with certainty, that no Police Officer, anywhere, begins his or her shift with killing a black man on their to-do list for that day. The encounters happen, and they happen quickly. There are really only a few questions that need to be asked. Was the Police Officer legitimately performing his or her duty? Was the recipient of the deadly force engaged in conduct that posed a threat to the life of the Police Officer or to others? Did the Police Officer have any alternatives available other than the use of deadly force? There are social-economic reasons to help explain why so many male blacks are involved in activities that put them in deadly encounters with Police Officers. Until the social-economic factors are rectified, this probably won’t change. But, I can’t help but wonder, is this really a racial issue. If Michael Brown was white, and Darren Wilson was black, would the rage have been there? What if they were both black, or both white? Would the rage have been there? That is the part I do not under stand. If certain individuals put themselves in harm’s way by engaging in at risk behavior, why is the rage directed at the Police Officer? Why is the rage not directed at the individual whose behavior is the direct cause of the action taken by the police officer?
Statistically, the leading cause of death for black males between the age of 15 to 35 is homicide. The overwhelming majority of these homicides are committed by members of the same race. Between 15 to 29, approximately 50 percent of deaths to black males is due to homicide. That means that every other black male between 15 to 29 who dies has met a violent end. The rate drops to 35 percent between 30-35. That is one in three, still a staggering statistic. Where is the rage? I have seen stories over and over again about the death of small children, shot to death as collateral damage in drive-by shootings between warring gangs. Little children! Where is the rage? There are accounts of grandmothers gunned down at the bus stop or citizens sitting on their front porches dying from stray bullets. Where is the rage? Are the police really the recipients of all the rage, or are they merely scapegoats because it is easier to blame someone else then to blame oneself? Without sounding overly simplistic, it is really a matter of cause and effect. If the cause is altered, the effect will be altered as well. If the number of young black men putting themselves into harms way by their own chosen behavior is reduced(cause), will not the number of young black men killed by the police also be reduced (effect). I suppose it is anybody’s guess if that will happen, but it does sound like a good place to start.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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