Two student reactions to Ferguson coverage

and September 17, 2014 Opinion

Shantell Mitchell ‘18 expresses concern about  police brutality and our culture’s apathy toward dramatic events.

As many are aware, the media event in Ferguson is a topic that has inflamed headlines drawing diverse opinions and catalyzing activism with it. With the subject matter pertaining to police brutality, it is hard not to imagine such a strong response. Police brutality, in my opinion, is inexcusable by any means. The fact that people try to side with it frustrates me to no end. When something like this occurs I feel it is not the questions of whether the officer was enforcing the law, but whether he was truly being a public servant and protecting the people. Sometimes it feels like rather than enforcing the law, they enforce their dominance as authority figures. When that dominance is questioned things as tragic as Ferguson and the case of Eric Garner in New York can and will happen.  The issue is not always with the police, however. The problem also lies in our hands, the hands of the community.

The bigger issue here is that a tragedy has to happen for people to open up their eyes to the deep-seated problems that are still happening. Bad things happen to good people but we only call attention to it when tragedy strikes, or if it is caught on video. Something that really aggravates me about the situation is that people have this unwavering passion for about a month and then it is back to not caring. I hate to break it to the masses, but that is why things do not change. If you only cared about stops signs until you run someone over, then the stop sign was not very effective. Do not stop caring about a topic just because it is not on Facebook anymore. To be apathetic is pathetic; it would seem your armchair activism is almost as ineffective as the Ferguson police were. #iftheyshotmedown

Shantell Mitchell ’18

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Peter Ruiz ‘15 brings to light recurring themes in the murder of black American teens.

It has been a month since a community was thrown in turmoil. It has been a month since a mother’s worst nightmare came true. It has been a month since a young boy was shot six times by a police officer. As I reflect upon the experience of hearing this news, I am filled with rage. Another black person’s life has been ended due to police brutality. This young man has gone from being a person in a community to a media circus and a statistic. A young man has once again been vilified for the simple crime for dying while black in America.

Michael Brown was your typical 18 year old kid. He graduated from high school. He was a band kid. He was preparing to go to college. He dabbled in drugs. He took less than flattering pictures. He was a boy on the path towards manhood. The media took his less than flattering photos and his experimentation with drugs as a determination of the content of his character. But I ask you this: Some of you are also just graduated from high school or are not that far removed. Do you remember doing any of these things? Do you remember trying your first drink or smoking weed for the first time? Do you remember taking photos that were not flattering to your character? Now imagine you are not alive to tell your story and this is what you are remembered for; you are not remembered for being a loving sibling, playing an instrument, your community service, being a mentor, being the friend people came to for advice.

This is what it means to be killed as a black child in America. Darren Wilson, the man responsible for the death of a young boy, not that different from you or I, has not been charged with a crime. He is currently on paid vacation. While some of you may say that not all the facts about this case are in, there is one fact that remains: a boy has died at the hands of a law-enforcement agent. In any normal situation that boy would not have been left in the streets for four hours, he would not have been picked up in an unmarked vehicle, and his killer would at the very least been charged with some sort of crime. The difference with this situation is that Darren Wilson is a police officer and Michael Brown was a black boy in America.

You may say that this is one case but I present you with these: Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Armand Bennett, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and countless other black boys and men who have yet to see justice. In some of these cases the cops were never charged, in others acquitted. This is a lapse in justice. You may say that these are the few but not the many. Every 28 hours another black person is killed by the police. Every 28 hours another life is snuffed out by the very people our government has decided to protect us. Every 28 hours the black community in America is robbed of justice. Justice for these people who have been shot looks like the police being brought to court and convicted but it also looks like a hoodie and skittles being just a hoodie and skittles. It looks like us as a nation reflecting upon what it means to be free when the very act of living as a black person in America means that a target has been emblazoned upon. It looks like us asking why. It looks like the Michael Browns of the world being deemed fit for childhood.

Michael Brown and Ferguson is not an isolated incident. Michael is the collective black consciousness and Ferguson is America. We are all players in a game that ends in the death of black boys, girls, men, women, and non-binary people. For some of you reading, this a truth you live. For others of you, the fear of the police, the fear of your children being shot, the fear of you being shot, the loss of a feeling of safety in your own community is not a constant thought.

“Justice is what love looks like in public,” said Dr. Cornel West. I ask you, the reader, to commit the most extraordinary act a human being can commit: I ask you to love. I ask you to love the black community as you love your community. I ask you to love so intensely we have justice for Michael Brown.

Peter Ruiz ’15

Peter Ruiz

About Peter Ruiz

Peter Ruiz 15' is a Theatre Major at Rollins College and a staff writer at The Sandspur.

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