Ferguson anger highlights deeper injustices

Sania Chandrani, Editor-in-Chief

 

Popular anger of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson has sparked mass uprisings and riots across the United States. In Atlanta, outraged protesters marched through Underground and Downtown Atlanta on the day before Thanksgiving and on Black Friday.

On August 9, Officer Darren Wilson pulled over a young man, Michael Brown, who the authorities suspected of committing armed robbery. In the ensuing conflict, Wilson shot and killed the 18 year-old African American. The next morning, residents of Ferguson set up a vigil for Brown, and in the following weeks, multiple non-violent protests and occasional lootings broke out. Policemen were deployed to quell any violence, but citizens did not react well to the interventions (New York Times).

The grand jury ruled, on November 24, not to send Officer Wilson to trial for the murder because the jurors believed there was a lack of “probable cause” to send the case to trial court to be heard once more and determine Wilson’s guilt or innocence (New Republic).

Many are calling for another hearing because of the racial disproportionality of the jury rendering it unrepresentative and the fact that they were not sequestered. While 63% of Ferguson’s population is black according to ago.mo.gov, the grand jury consisted of nine white jurors and only three black ones. Additionally, the jurors were all from Ferguson and had been watching the events unfold in the city for months, so many believe they had biases.

All the documents used as evidence during the hearing have been released for public examination and are available online at http://nyti.ms/1ycHEwY.

Whether or not Officer Darren Wilson’s actions were criminal, the Ferguson unrest has started many conversations about the underlying problem of racial discrimination in the American justice and law enforcement system.

In Missouri itself, African Americans are stopped about seven times more often than white people. They are searched 12 times as often. They are arrested 13 times as often, and the large majority of these arrests are for traffic violations and other minor crimes.

Controversial issues such as Affirmative Action and various forms of racial profiling are further evidence of racial inequities in the United States.

Although the Ferguson case has unfolded for months, its distance from Metro-Atlanta has not lessened its effects. As the AP Government books says, the majority of high school students are hardly concerned with politics or government. However, for once, young people and adults have found themselves on common ground wanting to seek social justice.

A popular young-adult author, John Green, wrote a blog post in which he outlined the judicial inequities in Missouri. “Around the country, when compared to white men, African American men are much more likely to be shot by the police,” Green wrote. “They are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be convicted. And for the same crime, African American men will on average serve 20% more time in prison than a white man.”

The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has sprung up across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media sources in passionate denouncements of the grand jury’s decision.

This popular hashtag has taken over social media.
Kylie Gabrielson
This popular hashtag has taken over social media.

The media is also largely responsible for an escalation of the conflict and public opinion. Although many people are informing themselves about the conflict, others are just hopping onto the “racism bandwagon.” Yes, there is a racism problem; however, those who are uninformed and provoking anger with inflammatory remarks are probably not helping solve the problem.

Many began using this statement as well.
Kylie Gabrielson
Many began using this statement as well.