We witnessed the "scenario" taking place in Fergerson, Missouri before. More often than not a white police officer shoots an unarmed, young black man under circumstances where it would appear less-than-deadly force was an option that could have pursued in connection with the effort to arrest the young black person.
While initially withholding the name of the officer who fired the shots that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, Jr., the Ferguson police chief released a video showing Mr. Brown appearing to rob a local convenience store of a quantity of cigars and candy with an aggregate market value of $50.
The clear purpose of this was to assassinate the character and diminish and obscure the worthiness of Michael Brown, Jr. as a victim; and, to deflect attention from the actions of the police officer who fired several bullets into Mr. Brown, in the form of a public execution, without prior due process of law.
This shooting and the subsequent display of military combat equipment by the Ferguson police and the recent imposition of "a State of Emergency" and curfew by the Governor of Missouri are all occurring under the presidency of Barack Obama, America's first-ever elected African-American president.
The events in Ferguson are occurring after the Trayvon Martin, Sanford, FL. Eric Gardner (New York) and the Rodney King police beating in Los Angeles. For those of us old enough to remember, Ferguson is also during the 50th Anniversary Summer of Voter Registration in 1964 in the State of Mississippi.
Fifty years ago this month, the bodies of two Jewish young civil rights activists, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, along with James Chaney, a local African-American voting registration activist, were found in an earthen dam. Police officer members of the Klu Klux Klan had murdered them earlier. They were killed because of their efforts to register eligible blacks in Mississippi to vote.
Fergerson also raises some challenging questions for today's African-American leadership. African-Americans constitute 67 percent of the population of Ferguson. The police force is 94 percent white. Only one of its six city council members is black. There are three African-American members of the Fergerson Police Department
Against the background of the Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney murders in Philadelphia, and Mississippi, we are morally compelled to ask: How many African-American persons eligible to vote in Ferguson are actually registered to vote? How many of them actually voted in the last Municipal Fergerson election? How many persons in the streets protesting the shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. are registered to vote?
The release of the convenience store video appearing to show Michael Brown, Jr.'s strong-arm theft of cigars and other miscellaneous items raises the question of the parenting responsibilities of African fathers and mothers to their teenage sons and daughters. What could have possibly prompted an individual to think that it was ok for him to walk in and steal merchandise and assault the convenience store owner or manager? What kind of moral values of African-American teenagers are being transmitted and encouraged by their parents?
Possibly, most disturbing of all, in the wake of the police shootings of Eric Gardner, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown, Jr. is the issue of what are national African-American religious, community, civic and political leaders doing about the existential black-on-black violence occurring in so many urban communities across our nation?
While Brown was being shot several times by a white unnamed policeman in Fergerson, 26 black youth were killed by gunfire in Chicago during last weekend. There appears to be a moral disconnect between the outrage and public initiatives and statements of national African-American Civil Rights leaders who have been quick to react to the shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. However, they have been comparatively calm and silent on the weekly killings of young black men by other black men, not principally by police (quantitatively) but by other black men using guns to kill one another.
President Obama's laudatory statements about Ferguson and the quick reaction of Attorney General Holder's Justice Dept. while commendable are unresponsive to the magnitude of the crisis of confidence existing between the police and most African-American communities in the United States. More importantly, and regrettably, these statements are reminiscent of the legendary Nero fiddling while Rome burns.
Again, we repeat: With few, exceptions, there is a national crisis of confidence, communication and understanding occurring between most African-American communities nationwide and their respective police departments. This crisis can only be addressed by presidential action, not press conference presidential speeches