After the Grand Jury decision not to indict the Ferguson officer responsible for the murder of Michael Brown was released (November 24, 2014), people across the country took to the streets in protest. Seattle was no exception to this national wave of civil unrest.
People throughout the country are upset and fed up with being treated unfairly and being valued less than other citizens. The people are sick and tired of feeling like their rights and lives do not count, like they do not matter. The people are done with passively fearing for their lives, knowing that at any moment they can be killed with impunity because the officers will almost unequivocally escape any sort of punishment. The people are tired of being treated as second-class citizens.
The Grand Jury decision was the last draw.
The civil unrest did not just occur because of this one particular incident, but rather because of long series of incidents that stretches back hundreds of years. Although, the most recent incidents of Trevon Martin, and the 12-year old child who was shot by a Police Officer because of he was in possession of a bb-gun catalyzed the issues police brutality and injustice in recent memory. If it was only one incident, then the people would not be standing in solidarity throughout the nation, but they are.
I keep hearing again and again, that people are “sick and tired of hearing people of color complaining about injustice.”
To them I ask:
What is it that would cause a people, and not just black people, but all kinds of people to clamor for justice?
What would cause the people to take to the streets, host protest, and use the only voice they have left?
Could it possibly be because we actually feel and are being treated unjustly?
When I hear that people are sick and tired of hearing people of color complain about injustice what I hear is one of two things:
(1) Either they believe that the system is just, i.e., it provides for the common benefit of all people.
(2) they know the system is unjust and do not want to do anything about it, i.e., relinquish some of the privilege gained by the oppression of others.
In either case the outcome is wrong, but option two is far worse because inherent in it is an obvious choice to maintain the status quo, to maintain a system of oppression.
For a few generations since the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s & 70s, the people have been attempting to maneuver through the political system, the people have published papers and articles, written books, held peaceful vigils and all that has come about from it all is a corrupt system of injustice. Since the 1970s, but really picking up steam in the 80s and coalescing in 90s a new criminal justice system was created. This new system has the results of 3/4 of the adult African-American male population either in prison or with a prison record, that same population having their right to vote revoked, denied access to higher education, and legally discriminated against culminating to create what Michelle Alexander termed “The New Jim Crow.” The rhetoric behind and which founded the creation of this system has identified the young person of color as the enemy, as the “bad man,” and as worthy only of contempt and punishment. Simultaneously, the system shifted from prevention to punishment and diverted most of the funding that was set aside to help prevent crime and the causes of crime and suffering to the Prison Industrial Complex. These cuts and re-distributions of funds, while argued in public were often cryptic in design, like cuts to education programs, cuts to welfare programs, cuts to drug rehabilitation programs and the money was reallocated to law enforcement and to prison construction and maintenance. This is the result of peaceful, non-civil unrest action over the past few decades has come to nearly naught and the people most affected by this system know it all too well, even though many who are not affected by it are surprised to discover it nature.
This system just described above is what provides the motivation and the justification for officers of the “law” to act with impunity concerning the lives of people of color in the United States, a fact well known by the people. So, when the Grand Jury decided not to indict Daren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, essentially what the judicial system was doing was upholding its position against people of color. The determination was that there was not probable cause to file murder charges. This could only be the case if the law was set up to tolerate this type of behavior in the first place, but what is legal and what is just are mutually exclusive and thus, not always the same thing.
This is why the people took to the streets all throughout the nation. We are demanding that what is law and what is just be made to be equitable.