Unarmed black man shot and killed by an armed and trained white Police Officer happens far too many times in the United States. The scenario has been repeated so often, it could be thought of as some sort of initiation practice with deep historical roots.
In response to this horrific tradition, black parents developed their own protective practices, such as giving their sons “the talk” about life and surviving encounters with the police. As quiet as it is kept, this has been the way of black and white folks in the United States.
The quiet ended on August 9, 2014, when a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed a black 18 year old man, Michael Brown an alleged unarmed suspect in a robbery. A history of racial tension blurred the details of the story.
Chaos followed. There was a mini-KKK rally to support Darren Wilson. I heard reports that the local KKK chapter was going to donate money to help Officer Wilson with his expenses. There were riots, tears, prayers, and lots of cussing. The Ferguson Police Force hit the streets with the type of fire power associated with a national declaration of war. Ferguson didn’t think the world would notice, but we did.
The Ferguson Police Force looked so baffled. They were so sure that tradition and history were on their side. In their minds they were defending the status quo, what they defined as the American way. Instead they found themselves living out their worst nightmare. They actually brought blacks and whites together and a global protest movement developed.
How ironic. It was one of their own, Darren Wilson who fired the shot heard round the world.
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. Her “Commentary on Canvas” painting is in her current exhibit at the Somerville Community Access Television Gallery for January and February. In Feb I will be part of a dialogue in Somerville, Massachusetts about race relations in the United States.