|My son and daughter with Santa Claus|
It is the beginning of the Christmas season and the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri came in last night. With that decision Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, will not face criminal charges. Throughout the blogosphere and social media people were outraged. The question expressed was, “how is it possible that a Grand Jury didn’t indict the officer who shot Michael Brown, an unarmed young Black man?”
I keep thinking about Michael's mother who will not have her son with her for the holidays...
The grand jury didn’t return the decision many wanted, but that is the risk you take.
Why didn’t the grand jury indict the officer who killed Michael Brown? The answer of course is that the Grand jury reviewed the evidence and they decided not to indict Wilson. To say the decision was wrong or racist is an indictment our entire judicial system. From a theoretical perspective, you risk this is the kind of result when you have a system like ours where people are presumed to be innocent, especially when the person accused is a police officer who killed someone while performing their assigned duties. From a practical perspective, this is just one more time when the killer of a young Black man goes free without any consequence.
It makes many reasonable people want to scream. It makes many in Ferguson, Missouri want to loot. Both reactions make sense when the decision is placed into context. The looters have come to believe what the system has shown them repeatedly, they don’t matter and the system doesn’t work for them. For that reason, they have no incentive to be “reasonable”.
Even when the legal system works, it is inadequate for true justice.
I’ve been practicing law for a while. Long ago I began to realize that the legal system doesn’t always make sense. Even when it works like it is supposed to it is limited in its ability to grant true justice. The court system has two remedies money and injunction. Both are inadequate if you loses someone you love.
What the Brown family wants most of all—even more than an indictment—is their son back for the holidays
As the mother of a Black son, what I want more than “justice” is to live in a world where unarmed Black boys aren’t gunned down in cold blood. More than a hashtag--#BlackLivesMatter—I want the security that comes from knowing that my son will have the privilege of living in a world where he can pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
I want a cultural transformation. I want hearts to change. I want for police officers and the community to trust one another because both are needed. Like Dr. King, I have a dream that no Black mother, White mother, or Brown mother will have to experience the heartbreak that Michael Brown's mother is experiencing. In a word, I want more of our sons home for the holidays.