The universal sign of surrender, no threat The Right of the people to assemble peacefully What peaceful assembly brings about At least 8 heavily armed police aimed at a single unarmed individual Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, holds a sign saying “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.”
Photos courtesy of buzzfeed News: Tasneem Nashrulla
Looking into the Ferguson situation, I see police overkill in so many instances. The first being the killing of an 18 year old man, Michael Brown; apparently shot in the head once and eight shots to his his body, all by a single police officer. As we learn more of the story behind this, it will not cleanse the wounds this neighborhood is scarred with, now and forever. I am a white male, Michael was a black male; I live near Boston, Michael lived near St. Louis, I am alive, Michael is dead, and for what? Putting one’s hands up is a universal sign of surrender, showing all around that you intend them no harm, you are unarmed and willing to allow a search of your person. It does not give carte blanche for police to shoot you down, it is an act of submission, just as if a soldier carries a white flag, upraised arms are a signal of truce.
With all of the arms a police officer carries, a pistol, access to a shot gun, pepper spray, taser, handcuffs and zip ties, why did this officer go immediately for his firearm? More intriguing, precisely when was Michael shot in the head and eight shots fired into his body? This is classic “overkill” at it’s worst. When I was in the army, I would tell my guards under certain circumstances they had the order to use deadly force, if necessary. Rarely was there any necessity to even come close to deadly force. I reminded them that a well placed shot to the femur or butt would place the intruder in a position where they could not escape, leaving myself and others to find out why they were there in the first place; kill an intruder and the intel goes with them. By almost all accounts, Michael Brown was no threat to the officer that shot him. Some, of course, is speculation, but that does not take away the blatant fact this man was shot 9 times, once to the head and 8 to his body.
Why was he shot at all, much less 9 times, then left to bleed out in the middle of the street? I do not blame the people of Ferguson for being outraged, except for a few cases by some miscreants doing some looting the good people of Ferguson are doing what they are doing under Constitutionally protected actions. They are gathering peacefully seeking redress and an explanation of what happened. So why the show of military hardware, to include machine guns atop armored vehicles? Having been in the military for a number of years, I know what they have and am quite knowledgeable in what devastating damage they can do when one is either familiar with said arms, or the very severe damage they can do when one isn’t familiar with what they can do.
Granted, some things have changed since I was in uniform, but the basics remain the same, killing people that cause a threat. Just where is the threat in Ferguson? With the exception of some looters, (whom the police should have been taking into custody), who appear to have gotten away with their illegal activities when those who joined hand in hand, arm in arm to honor Mr. Brown, were being targeted with military grade weapons systems. This is ludicrous at best, criminal at worst. Under what circumstances are military grade munitions “authorized” to be used on an unarmed civilian population?
There are several tragedies involved here, the death and manner of death of Mr. Brown; the looting that went on; the potential use of military grade weapons systems on civilians. The overkill of police in riot gear when they should be reaching out to a grieving community. The officer who shot Mr. Brown must be held accountable, even if there was a threat, why did it take 9 bullets to take him down, one to the head? This officer should be removed from the force and if charges can be brought against him, then let it be so. If there are no charges that can be filed, so be it; but Justice must be served, using the color of authority is not justifiable for what was done. The “blue line” must come down and criminals within any police force must be dealt with severely if found guilty of criminality themselves. There are plenty of good officers out there, a few can change the equation as to where we trust no one with a badge.
I wish the family of Michael Brown a swift recovery from their loss. I know they will hold him in their fondest memories. I hope the city of Ferguson can get past this without the trauma that often afflicts communities during times such as these. From what I have seen so far, the good people of Ferguson have held their own, doing what is right, demanding justice in the face of adversity, (with a few exceptions who should be ashamed of themselves for using the demise of Mr. Brown for their own selfish gain by looting stores). Let not fear rule your lives, let truth and love be your guiding principles. The truth of what happened to Mr. Brown, and the love you have shown for the community, indeed, the nation’s loss.