Friday, August 29, 2014

Chidike Okeem - Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Black Attitudes to Policing

The black conservative writer offers his commentary on Ferguson.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was a few days away from starting college, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri—a region with a prominent African-American population. The circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear; however, eyewitnesses have said that Michael Brown had his hands in the air when he was shot dead. As a result of the killing of Michael Brown, the city of Ferguson has been in uproar, and the anti-police sentiment is palpable. While most of the protesters have been peaceful, there have been some opportunists who used the disarray as an opportunity to steal from stores throughout the neighborhood. Of course, those who revel in presenting the worst images of black America have obsessively focused on the looting—as if the looting by some makes Brown’s death justifiable.

 The angry protests in Ferguson are the natural consequence of decades of frustration that black communities across America have been harboring due to abusive policing. It is intellectually dishonest to try to address the issue of negative attitudes among blacks towards the police without first addressing the underlying concerns black citizens have about law enforcement. Fundamentally, the reason why negative attitudes about police exist is precisely because of policing practices and policies that fail to recognize and respect the humanity of black citizens. It is nonsensical to continue a policy like stop-and-frisk that casually violates the Fourth Amendment rights of young black citizens of the United States—and then wonder why many young black citizens have a negative view of the police. Moreover, keeping violent and heartless officers on the streets and trusting them to ethically police communities that they are culturally disconnected from is a recipe for disastrous social conflict.

Read complete article here