Americans of every hue need to be honest about three things: every human life is intrinsically valuable, police officers and young African-American men frequently distrust each other, and Michael Brown is an atypical martyr. Mr. Brown shoplifted cigars, had a physical altercation with a police officer, and reportedly suspended an attempt to flee the scene long enough to charge the police officer. A toxicology report also shows Michael Brown was likely high.
Americans who are angry about officer Wilson’s conduct have seemingly ignored the facts; Michael Brown was not a harmless, innocent, young man. At best Mr. Brown made a handful of poor decisions on August 9th – and they cost him his life. Now, because of the grand jury’s verdict, violent protesters are making bad decisions of their own. Anger is unproductive, but sometimes the truth is hard to embrace.
The truth is, both officer Wilson and Michael Brown could have made better choices on that fateful day. Training is the key. Police officers must be trained to overcome stereotypes and deescalate difficult situations, while parents must teach their children to treat police officers with respect – if only to minimize the chances of a violent confrontation. But training alone will not fix our nation’s problems: only through humility on the part of law enforcement officers, and forgiveness on the part of historically abused communities can we reach this goal.