Build Community on New Hope of Peace; Ferguson Police Shooting Update

Update! March 16th, 2015:

The shooting of two police officers in Ferguson was a terrible, criminal act. It has unnecessarily led to increased tensions between the community and the police department. The shooter has been identified as 20 year old, Jeffery Williams. He has admitted to the shooting, but says it had nothing to do with the protesting of Michael Brown. He was aiming for someone else all together, not for the police officers he actually shot. Other protesters agree, he is not part of their close-knit group. (nytimes.com)

Although, “demonstrators had denounced the shooting, but vowed to continue marching and protesting, saying they would not be distracted from seeking justice for Mr. Brown’s killing and for systemic change in Ferguson’s police and court system” (nytimes.com, 2015).I couldn’t agree more. Now that the shooter has been caught, my hope is that peaceful strategies for improved race relations can be developed and implemented.

 

Comment below and tell me what you think can be done to make racial relations more positive in Ferguson. Or, tell me what you and your neighbors do in your community to improve race relations.

 

Follow my blog at http://www.jhjeffersonconsulting.wordpress.com for all things Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion.

 

Update! February 17th, 2015: 

Harris County DA Anderson has stated her support for legislation that will revamp the grand jury selection process. (Houston chronicle)

Although I am not aware of the details, there is legislation that will be considered by the Texas lawmakers in Austin. It is my hope that any such legislation will not only deal with the selection process of the grand jurors, but will also deal with overhauling the grand jury system in total. This would include, looking at things like making the entire process more transparent.

 

 

What could have been done differently in Ferguson? See my thoughts below.

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First, the media could have highlighted the issue of coming together as a community to TALK and plan a solution. Instead, the media played on the emotions of the crowd.  They could have helped the police and the citizens come together as a unified group instead of playing on the divisiveness of the emotions of the group.

The community could have shown more restraint, following the lead of Mike Brown’s Mother, as she asked for peaceful protest. They could have done more to keep outside influences, such as negative media and violent protesters, away. On top of that, how stupid is it to burn down your own community? You’re going to burn down businesses that you use, that are there to serve you? That doesn’t help anybody.

How could the public officials have done to help put the fire out?

I think they tried. They appointed the senior level black state policeman to deal with crowd control, public appearances and so forth. If anything could have been done differently, the governor could have stepped up in support of the community a little more. I believe the public officials did the best they could.

Overall, we need to do something to revamp and modernize the grand jury process, making it more transparent. Because the grand jury meets in secret, the process of selection is questionable and their deliberation is not transparent, people feel starved for information and facts. If citizens were informed on what happens behind those closed doors, then their reaction could have possibly been different, maybe causing the community to react differently regardless of the outcome of the grand jury’s decision. Changing the process of the grand jury could be the key to start the process of building the community, instead of burning it down.

 

References:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/16/us/suspect-arrested-in-shooting-of-2-officers-in-ferguson-police-say.html?_r=0&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=U.S.&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article

 

Same Problems Still Exist. Shown by the “Ferguson Report.”

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According to CNN (2015), “The Justice Department on Wednesday released a scathing 102-page report revealing systemic racial discrimination against African-Americans at the hands of the Ferguson Police Department and city officials. After an extensive federal civil rights probe, the Justice Department found what it described as “unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans,” resulting in repeated violations of the First and Fourth Amendments and excessive uses of force.” (cnn.com)

The “Ferguson report” has done nothing except to confirm what I already knew, as did many black men in this country. That is that there is wide spread discrimination within police departments across this country that plays out as disparate treatment toward black men. To me, the $64,000 question is, will this report then lead to meaningful discussions on this issue? Will it result in any positive change if discussions ensue? It is my hope that it does but it is my belief, based on my life’s experiences, that nothing of significance will really change. Once the media attention fades, so will the interest in dealing with the issue of blacks being disproportionately stopped, ticketed, arrested, tasered and shot than people of any other ethnicity. I have seen it over and over again throughout my lifetime. There have been miniscule, unimportant changes to the police department, such as allowing black officers to arrest people of any race. We have also allowed more black people on the force altogether.

However, we obviously still have the same problem, which is proven by this report. There is no reason for me to believe that this time it will be anything different. Yes, this report comes from one town in the Midwest. But, this reflects the situations that pop up all across this country. Because I do not believe that things will change on any level of importance, I will continue to do what I can within my circle of influence to make things better for everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. I encourage all of you to do the same. Teach tolerance, humility. Teach your circle to treat every person as an individual; not based on the color of their skin, or their religious beliefs, but on their personality, their inner being. Use your courage and resources to make a ripple in your pond.