Shooting Investigations . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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Shooting Investigations . . .

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Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 6:30 pm

What is and what isn’t justice is in the mind of the beholder. We suspect it’s always been that way — long before what we now have in the fatal shooting case of Michael Brown. There are cries for justice. Protests continue.

We lost track of the number of investigations that are ongoing. A grand jury has been convened in St. Louis County in another of the multiple investigations. Then we hear that not all evidence may not be presented until mid-October. The shooting occurred Aug. 9 in Ferguson.

The public has read and heard a number of versions of what happened. The goal of the investigations is to determine the truth, which appears to be very elusive in this case of an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a white policeman.

The protesters believe there was no justification for the shooting. Others await the facts in the case before making a judgment call.

It was white on black. Had it been black on black, or white on white, it would not have led to the protests, the looting, destruction of property, the many arrests. Ferguson would not have become a household word.

When police have to deal with a high rate of crime, particularly in a majority black city, suspicions run high. It doesn’t mean all of the policemen are racists. It does mean that there is a perception that law enforcement officers are believed to have a bias, especially when most of the policemen are white.

With the history America has of many people treating blacks as inferior, although remarkable strides have been made to overcome prejudice, there is bound to be a built-up feeling of injustice when it comes to crime and shooting deaths involving blacks. This, however, is no justification for what happened in Ferguson. But it does offer an explanation for what transpired.

We have many towns and cities in this country that are like Ferguson. The police departments find it difficult to hire black policemen. Had a black policeman shot Brown, would we have had the protests and lawlessness that resulted? Probably not.

The conditions under which the police have to operate in cities such as Ferguson are difficult — to put it mildly. They also have emotions. They are human beings, too. They know they have to be very careful in dealing with any type of crime and criminals. This, of course, does not excuse them from using excessive force if that was the case in the Brown shooting. Did the officer fear for his own safety?

Will there be justice in this case? Yes, in the minds of some people. No, in the minds of others. Justice can be elusive because we don’t all think alike.

/opinion/columns

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