作者： 2021-10-14 09:53:40 阅读量：
Death incites unrest
A media firestorm has swept across the US since Aug 9 when Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Residents in the area took to the streets to protest what they feel is racial injustice in US law enforcement practices. Protests carried on for days and grew so intense in certain areas that the police deployed military-grade armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Brown was initially stopped by the officer for jaywalking. When confrontation ensued, the officer, who is white, shot Brown at least six times. The officer claims he acted in self-defense. Brown was unarmed at the time he was killed. An investigation into what really happened is currently underway. But many people are wondering if the same thing would have happened had Brown been white.
The killing of Brown might be the catalyst of the Ferguson unrest, but as explanatory journalism website Vox.com points out, the underlying cause of the turmoil is years of racial tensions between Ferguson’s minority communities, police, and local government.
Prior to the shooting, Americans were already discussing the history of police violence against black men, and general racism as well. In 2012 Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen, was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch guard in Florida. The guard, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of all charges related to the killing.
An old problem
But this time in Ferguson, the problems may have been worsened by the lack of black representation in local government. According to the US Census Bureau, Ferguson is about 67 percent black. But both its mayor and police chief are white. Out of 53 commissioned police officers, only three are black, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The disparities also apply to the number of police actions against white and black residents. A report from the Missouri attorney general’s office found black people made up more than 93 percent of arrests carried out by Ferguson police in 2013.
US president Barack Obama, in a speech calling for calm in Ferguson on Aug 18, acknowledged the deep racial divisions that continue to plague not only Ferguson but cities across the US, reported The New York Times.
“In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement,” Obama said. “In too many communities, too many young men of color are left behind and seen only as objects of fear.”
Annette Gordon-Reed, writing in the Financial Times, points out that the US has yet to overcome its tortured racial past. Deep-rooted prejudices have made black people, particularly young black men,presumptive criminals outside the boundaries of full citizenship, Gordon-Reed says.
This conclusion can be drawn if one looks at the record of police conduct, says Gordon-Reed —“from instances of brutal treatment of blacks in custody, to racial disparities in drug arrests and sentencing”.