Nathan A. Zimmerman –
Over the last several months, all of us should have heard one thing or another about what exactly has been occurring in Ferguson, Missouri. However, despite everything that has been occurring, the people of this nation and of this campus seem to easily confuse the opinions of the situations with the facts. Instead of delving into the opinions people have about that decision, let us first acknowledge what exactly occurred with the 18 year-old Michael Brown and 28 year-old Officer Darren Wilson.
Ferguson has a colored population that is around 67 percent. However, in the police force and upper level administration positions within the city, this population is only minutely represented, as many media agencies have been illustrating throughout these last few months. Thus, there has been a deep mistrust within Ferguson among its population for a significant amount of time. And then Michael Brown and Darren Wilson happened. This event single-handedly exploded all this tension that had built up in the city; an explosion that the residents will be suffering from and trying to recover for many, many years to come.
On August 9, 2014, after responding to a call from a convenience store, Wilson came across Brown and Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson. Wilson ordered them out of the street and onto the sidewalk but backed up after seeing Brown match the suspect’s description provided by dispatch. Brown (who was 6’5’’ and 290 pounds) and Wilson (at 6’4’’ and 210 pounds) struggled through the window of the Wilson’s police vehicle at which point Brown was initially shot. At that point, Brown and Wilson freed themselves from each other and Brown and Johnson began fleeing; Wilson pursued Brown.
Now I will leave it to you to argue who instigated the attack; my analysis of the actual event is sticking strictly to the facts. The following is what evidence the grand jury processed that led them to make their decision not to indict Officer Wilson.
The primary duty of a grand jury is to decide whether or not there is enough probable cause to indict, or press charges against, an accused. This entails separating fact from fiction and getting the most clear, concise picture of the situation in which the event took place. One of the primary sources of evidence was the accounts of witnesses. Witness reports were misconstrued, inconsistent, and not reliable. Thus, whereas initial witness reports state that Brown was trying to surrender, was shot in the back, and was running away. These reports needed to be verified in order to have the most unwavering doubt that Wilson needed to be charged. However, the evidence, and witnesses changing their stories, proved otherwise.
Almost none of the witnesses’ stories match up. The greatest point in contention was whether or not Brown was surrendering or charging at Officer Wilson. Consequently, physical evidence showed that Wilson fired 12 shots total; at least six of these hit Michael Brown. Some blood of Brown’s was also found on Wilson’s gun and inside the police vehicle. Of all of these shots, none hit Brown in the back, showing that he was facing Wilson when he was shot and killed. A medical diagnosis after the death showed that Wilson had a bruise on the side of his face from being hit. The New York Times discusses how the forensics team provided evidence giving light to what happened after Brown began to flee and Wilson began the chase. The article discusses the physical evidence and that it showed Brown’s blood trail went towards Officer Wilson after he was shot again. Therefore after the chase began, Michael Brown stopped and began to go towards Officer Wilson. Because of the dishonesty of the witness accounts, there simply could not be probable cause to indict Officer Wilson. The evidence simply supports the position that it is a case of a police officer fearing for his life and using self-defense measures. Those are the facts.
However, vandalizing and resorting to violence because of the perceived unjust and racism in the city are absolutely in no way to be tolerated by the law in Ferguson. People have a right to protest and list their grievances but in no way do people have the right to destroy the property of others. Think of the protests during the Civil Rights era and when Martin Luther King Jr. led movements against the unjust. I can only yearn to see a Martin Luther King of today’s world in Ferguson rise and help to provide a means of accomplishing ridding the area of unjust in a peaceful manner, instead of making the city one in which the population and the youth will have to try to rebuild because of the destructive fires lit by those who cannot find any other way to make the situation of the city better.
Nathan A. Zimmerman, from Mt. Sterling, Illinois, is a junior majoring in Finance and Economics with a minor in Political Science. Nathan is the Organizational Outreach Chair of the Student Senate, the President of the Warren O. Billhartz Investment Club, as well as an active member of Enactus. Nathan is a features and opinions writer for The Rambler.