If the deaths of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin are any example, we would hope that we’d have already seen an end to young men falling victim to the trigger happy hands of the law. Unfortunately that fails to be the case once again.
Reports from St. Louis Today indicate that Ferguson teen, Michael Brown was shot at 2:15 on Saturday afternoon as he was walking to his grandmother’s residence.
Piaget Crenshaw, said she was waiting for a ride when she witnessed a police officer attempting to place Brown in a squad car. She says Brown, then attempted to flee with his hands up before he was shot several times by the police.
A backlash ensued as people began to rush from a nearby apartment building in a melee involving police taunts and more gunfire. 60 police officers responded to the scene where infuriated residents taunted, “Kill the police!” Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather held a sign that read, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”
The evening went on to include fleeting times of tension as well as calm that included a prayer circle and a candlelight vigil. At about 8:30 pm demonstrators begin to swarm the streets chanting, “We are Michael Brown!” as police officers stood on alert armed with assault rifles and barking dogs. 100 protesters also marched to the Ferguson police department and chanted, “No Justice. No Peace!”
Brown was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College this Monday. His mother, Lesley McSpadden could be seen being comforted by friends and neighbors periodically throughout the night. She told an acquaintance:
“I know they killed my son.”
“This was wrong and it was cold-hearted.”
Her son, she continued, “doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”
Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson immediately turned the matter over to St. Louis County police. He commented:
“We are hoping for calm and for people to give us a chance to conduct a thorough investigation.”
County police spokesman Brian Schellman promised a lengthy investigation and the officer in question has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.
As the afternoon went on, political activists and public figures arrived on the scene to try and maintain a sense of calm. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the city was in mourning.
“It’s a tragedy whenever a young person loses his life,” the mayor said as he urged residents to remain calm and “have faith in the process.”
We are glad no one else was harmed in the hysteria that seemed to follow this tragedy. I don’t know what the answers are: Better gun control? Better training and screening of law enforcement? A change of mindset in our communities? Whatever the case may be I hope that we don’t have to keep losing the lives of young men and women to learn how to cooperate as a community. Our thoughts are with Ferguson and the family and friends of Michael Brown.