I very strongly feel that at the root of everything that is happening, there is a young man — a young man with hopes, fears, dreams, accomplishments and demons — a young man no different from you or me.
He was unarmed, and was shot six times. At least two of those times as he was falling to the ground… ten to fifteen feet away from an officer that was armed with other, more non-lethal weapons, who had ways for him to subdue this young man (if he did feel truly threatened), and to also preserve a life.
And now, in the wake of this death, there is an entire community grieving.
I can recognize that I am privileged enough to have never felt hatred solely because of my skin color. I recognize that I can never understand what it is like to be looked over by society simply because of a skin pigment. I have never been made to feel less than who I am simply because of who I am to the extent that people of color do every day.
What I can understand, however, is pain; the pain of a parent doubled over in agony over the loss of a child, of a sister that lost her brother, of a friend that lost his friend.
I can relate to that feeling of being consumed with so much grief (as you can see in Michael Brown’s mother’s eyes) that you want to turn the world on its head. To want to scream and have the whole world scream with you. To see the cause of your loved one’s death punished.
I have no question that law enforcement is a difficult job. That it takes a special sort to not only choose to be a police officer, but to actually make a difference for the better. I am thankful for the peace of mind I am given knowing that no matter where I am in the city, there is someone to help watch my back.
But not every police officer makes the right decision every time.
Having said that, there is no doubt in my mind, based on everything I have read (and I have done my research) that the officer involved in this shooting made the wrong decision and should have been indicted.
I believe that the jury, while given all evidence, was given no guidance in how to proceed. And that all the evidence was provided by a man that clearly did not want to see an indictment. And in this I can recognize a pattern.
A pattern of young, unarmed black men being gunned down. And a pattern of no consequences being doled out to the white men that pulled the trigger.
This pattern sends out a clear message. A message that certain lives do not matter.
We have GOT to stop letting this happen. And while it may be uncomfortable to realize that we live in a deeply flawed and racist country, we must all open our eyes and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. For it is not until we can all, as a society, #standinsolidarity that we can truly… TRULY… begin to fix our flaws.
I’m not daft enough to believe that this post will change anyone’s mind on the subject. I realize that opinions on race are extremely polarized. I just hope that my words may make some look at the world in a different light.
We, as humans, have been given the gift of a thirst for knowledge and the ability to adapt.
I stand with all my friends — the ones I have, the ones I have yet to meet and the ones that I will never know — as a #whiteally. We are all Americans, and every life matters. Every life counts. One day the rest of our country will realize that.
My thoughts and prayers tonight go out to a grieving family. And Mama Brown, I can promise that I am in my own corner of the world screaming with you.
Your Voices is a series of guest editorials on issues of importance to our community and the nation. South Bend Voice does not necessarily agree with the views expressed.
About the Author: Michael Craig is a concerned citizen and a resident of Chicago, Illinois.