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Brown’s mom: Arrest the killer of my child

AT A MONDAY press conference, Michael Brown’s family released the results of an independent autopsy performed by pathologist Dr. Michael Baden. The autopsy showed that the unarmed teen was shot at least six times by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Attorney Benjamin Crump said Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, had two questions.

“Was my child in pain?” she asked.

[blocktext align=”right”]Lastly, his mother wanted to ask a question that [neither] Dr. Baden nor any of the lawyers could answer: “What else do we need to give them to arrest the killer of my child?”[/blocktext]

The answer, according to Dr. Baden, is that Brown most likely didn’t suffer, Crump said.

“And then lastly, his mother wanted to ask a question that [neither] Dr. Baden nor any of the lawyers could answer: ‘What else do we need to give them to arrest the killer of my child?’”

In my estimation, that is the question that matters most.

Yes, there are larger cultural issues concerning the treatment of black men, the response of the media, the role of national government, and the anger of oppressed communities.

But as the Missouri National Guard is called upon to quell the violence that has erupted, as President Obama calls for calm, as Attorney General Eric Holder is dispatched to Ferguson, and as conservatives attempt to justify the shooting of the unarmed teen, justice should be at the forefront of the discussion.

Unfortunately, the battle over Michael Brown has expanded beyond right versus wrong. The battle now is for the public relations high ground.

Michael Brown and the fight for truth

Last week, as that battle shifted into high gear, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson fired a rhetorical shot at all who’d dared to side with Brown.

[blocktext align=”left”]I was angry because I wanted Brown to be without blemish. I wanted his murder to be beyond justification … In my anger, I nearly forgot that life is not a charcoal drawing in strokes of black and white. No, life is a convoluted plot line that twists and turns into knots. It is an infinite series of colors with shades of gray in between.[/blocktext]

For a moment there, he almost had me.

When Jackson released footage of a man purported to be Michael Brown committing what appeared to be a strong-arm robbery shortly before he was shot and killed by a police officer, I was angry.

I was angry not only with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown six times, and left his lifeless body lying in the street. I was angry because I wanted Brown to be without blemish. I wanted his murder to be beyond justification. I wanted him to be the portrait I’d painted in my mind—an innocent, unarmed youth who was gunned down for no good reason.

In my anger, I nearly forgot that life is not a charcoal drawing in strokes of black and white. No, life is a convoluted plot line that twists and turns into knots. It is an infinite series of colors with shades of gray in between.

In life’s fleeting story, there are no perfect characters, and as Michael Brown’s family has acknowledged, their son, their nephew, their college-bound student, was not perfect. He was simply a young man; one who was flawed like the rest of us. But whatever his flaws may have been, one thing is abundantly clear to me now.

Michael Brown, an unarmed young man who was shot to death by a police officer, did not deserve to have his body assassinated. He didn’t deserve to have his character assassinated, either.

Michael Brown in black and white

I have lived through the story of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, a young affluent white couple who killed their newborn baby, threw the body in a Dumpster, and made it home in less than two years.

[blocktext align=”right”]I have lived through the story of Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, a young affluent white couple who killed their newborn baby, threw the body in a Dumpster, and made it home in less than two years … But Ferguson’s Police Chief didn’t expect us to measure Brown’s treatment against the treatment of others his age. He simply expected us to believe that Brown was a criminal because he was black. [/blocktext]

I have lived through Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and other white youths like them, who killed their classmates and themselves in massacres in affluent white high schools like Columbine.

Surely, if those “misguided” young people deserved mercy for killing an innocent baby or dozens of fellow teens, Michael Brown deserved to live after allegedly taking cigars.

But Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson didn’t expect us to measure Brown’s treatment against the treatment of others his age. He simply expected us to believe that Brown was a criminal because he was black.

Historically, that is the nature of the black community’s interactions with police. We are too often guilty until proven innocent. We are too often abused with impunity. We are too often treated differently than our white counterparts.

This is especially true for black men, and that, I believe, is the underlying reason for the community’s angry response.

But as we brace ourselves for another night of angry protests, for another round of wrangling for publicity, for another round of charges and counter charges, there is really only one question that matters.

It is the questioned that was posed by Michael Brown’s mother: “What else do we need to give them to arrest the killer of my child?”

Hopefully, she won’t have to pose that question much longer. Hopefully, justice will finally cut through the noise. sj favicon 3

Photo credit: Helium Factory. Flickr Creative Commons. Rally in Dallas to honor those affected by police brutality.


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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon

 

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