Michael (Mike) Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, or a teenager, a grandfather and a child, all died from fatal shootings by police officers. Although all three of them were unarmed, the police officers in each perspective case had felt it was right to use extreme force.
In response, there have been protests around the nation, beginning in Ferguson, Missorui after Mike Brown’s death. Protests became violent after the court ruling found Police Officer Darren Wilson not guilty of killing the unarmed teen. The case of Eric Garner also sparked protests and even became the last straw to prompt support from athletes and government officials. As we await the outcome for the case of young Tamir Rice, let us take a look of how 2014 has reminded us of the existence of social injustice in the U.S.
CNN created a timeline of the events surrounding Mike Brown’s death and the protests that sparked as a result in their article, “How Ferguson, Missouri, became a global conversation.” They summarized the altercation between Mike Brown and Officer Wilson as one fact being clear, “Wilson shot and killed Brown on August 9. The teen was unarmed.”
As a result, CNN included “Protests began the same day, and grew as time passed and news of the shooting spread.” Although the protests started peacefully, “there were pockets of looting and violence, which prompted a forceful—protesters say excessive—response from law enforcement.” The protests grew even more violent after Officer Wilson was found not guilty of killing Brown. Protestors went as far as burning and vandalizing public establishments.
But protests have spread even further from Ferguson, echoing in the hearts of all races, after the case of Eric Garner—“a New York grandfather who was put in a fatal chokehold by a police officer trying to arrest him for selling cigarettes illegally,” as reported by CNN’s “Rich & poor, black & white: Many in US unified in anger at Eric Garner case.”
The outcome of Garner’s case was the same as that of young Mike Brown’s. Officer Daniel Pantaleo was found not guilty. As CNN reports, this “decision was met with violent demonstrations in Ferguson and largely peaceful protests throughout the nation.” The peaceful demonstrations are speaking louder than violence as Athletes, students, and government officials began to take a stand against these patterns of injustice.
The silent protest on Capitol Hill is perhaps the most powerful we have seen of the protests so far. As ABC broke the news, “Over a hundred black congressional staffers and several black lawmakers staged a walkout at the Capitol” on Thursday, December 11th. They led “a silent protest on the steps of the Capitol over the recent police killing involving Ferguson and Eric Garner.”
The prayer that Senate Chaplain Barry Black led left us with words of wisdom that we should keep in the back of our minds:
“May we not forget that in our national history injustice has often been maintained because good people failed to promptly act. Forgive oh God, our culpability in contributing to our national pathology as you keep us aware of our own capacity to be instruments of injustice.”
The group then proceeded to silently pull their hands up, palms facing forward symbolic of the “Hands up don’t shoot” gesture that was made famous by protestors in Ferguson.
Now we await the outcome of 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was “carrying a pellet gun [and then] died from a single shot fired by a rookie police officer,” reported by FOX News. As we do so, we are wondering whether or not we will be instruments of injustice or good people who will act.
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