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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

The backlash on Brown

Michael Brown’s tragic death certainly does not speak well of my hometown. But beyond all of the fuss, I believe that protesters may end up hurting their cause when rage and frustration take precedence against understanding and empathy.

On Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, a Ferguson police officer happened upon two men involved in a dispute of some sort, one of which was Michael Brown. When this officer exited his police car, Brown allegedly pushed him back into the vehicle, according to one account. A scuffle ensued, and Brown was shot multiple times by the officer. Brown was unarmed.

Such is the world we live in. And, as I have discussed before, such is a local tragedy that can quickly escalate into a national discussion, sometimes permanently damaging the perceptions of a ?community.

With such a divisive issue as race, it is extremely easy for emotions to become conflicted before the facts are revealed. For those who have struggled under the yoke of systematic oppression, it is hard to not look at the issue and see Ferguson as the new Birmingham, Selma or ?Montgomery.

This incident, having come so soon after the hot-button Trayvon Martin shooting, ignited tensions within the suburb. St. Louis is one of many cities that has experienced racial tension. The metro area’s sprawl continues to stretch ever-further west.

The areas surrounding St. Louis, such as Ferguson, have been labeled as poor and vulgar. This hasn’t pleased its residents. Add to that the implications of a Caucasian officer shooting an unarmed young African-American, and Ferguson had quite a bit of pent-up grievances.

This unnoticed tinderbox was rife with social unrest and tensions straining the community, nearly to a breaking point. The shooting of Michael Brown could be compared to shooting a bazooka at a land mine.

Brown’s death made him an icon, as the issue blew up quickly. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder directed the FBI to launch its own investigation into the matter. National figures, such as Reverend Al Sharpton and President Obama, jumped in on the issue, and soon CNN shined its precious limelight on the town. #Ferguson has now spread across the Twitterverse like a wildfire, and it is virtually impossible to escape the media onslaught.

For others who are fearful to speak a contrary viewpoint without being shouted down, Ferguson represents a turning point to where order and rule-of-law must prevail. Both sides have valid points, and Brown’s situation is anything but standard operating procedure for the Ferguson Police, the St. Louis County Police or even the Missouri National Guard. This leads to a highly charged atmosphere that could result in someone doing something very stupid, leading us down a very dangerous path.

I implore both the authorities involved and the protesters to act calmly and rationally to the best of their abilities as justice comes with the legal systems in place, rather than through vigilante justice or retribution. We have seen the results of brutal payback before, and I pray this cycle of revenge will not start anew in the heart of America.

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