>> Tuesday, November 25, 2014
There's no justice, no peace. I don't goddamn know. I just don't know.
A tragedy for you is that grand juries are terrible at indicting cops, but the legal system's pretty damn good at incarcerating African Americans. So I guess what happens now that a Missouri grand jury has declined to indict Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, leading to riots in Ferguson, is the courts out there can get back to doing what American courts do best. And they've got plenty to work with, I reckon, with those riots.
I don't want you to get me wrong. If I had a kid, and he got shot while he was bent over on the ground, unarmed, I'd want to break shit. I don't have to worry about this, not because I'm childless, but because I'm white, and that makes me special in this country for no good reason except the awful history of this broken and bloody land privileges whiteness. But if I had to worry about that, and four hundred years of misery and injustice while a nation patted itself on the back for being oh so classless and free curdling underneath, yeah, I'd want to break something, and maybe I would.
No, I'm commenting on the sad irony. The justice system, such as it is, has no idea what to do with a cop shooting a black kid in the street because cops, because black kids; but it has a pretty good idea what to do with a black person who breaks a window or sets something on fire, even if they've got a few hundred thousand reasons to be pissed off, and reason hundred-thousand-and-one was just the final straw (or the latest final straw, anyway). There will be prosecutions galore for the shooting of Michael Brown after all.
I don't know. I don't fucking know. The grand jury is supposed to stand as this bulwark between the abuses of power by the state and the feral wildness of the mob, and here it is, yet again, failing to do anything right. I don't know what the answer is because the grand jury shouldn't have indicted Wilson just so there could be a trial for the (justifiably) angry friends, family and neighbors of Michael Brown, but I don't really understand how those shots to the head when the kid was down in the street count as a reasonable use of force any more than I really understand any of Darren Wilson's story about being attacked in his car at all.
It's a lousy system, anyway. I don't know what it does, what it's supposed to do in the meaningful sense--that is, I can tell you the history and why it seemed like a good idea at the time, I just can't tell you what the grand jury does in application. Or that's not right, either: I can tell you that what the grand jury does in application is lets cops off the hook and feeds black people to the meat grinder. Yeah, it does that. Doesn't actually grind them, it's more like the hopper up top you pour the raw flesh into before it's turned into sausage.
Thinking about this makes me sad and angry. Did you notice that already? And being sad about it makes me angry and being angry about it makes me sad. And wasting my life here inside the inner workings of a meat grinder makes me sad and angry, and not having any answers makes me sad and angry, and when I say there's no peace and no justice I don't just mean in Ferguson, I mean in my own goddamn heart, I mean here's just what I don't have to offer you.
I don't have it in me to read all the documents NPR has posted, but the grand jury evidence is there if you want to pick through it; it was enough for me to confirm that the kid was shot in the top of the head towards the back of the skull, and in the central forehead with an exit wound in the lower jaw and secondary wound from the same bullet in the upper chest, which means the young man was shot at least twice in a bent-over or possibly crumpled position. I don't know that this information is especially new to anyone, but I needed to take a look at if for myself. I'll invite you to draw your own conclusions as to whether that sounds like a reasonable use of lethal force--I know there are some lovely people who have concluded Brown was bent over to charge or something like that. These folks probably have an explanation as to why Wilson decided not to stay in the car until backup arrived, why his vehicle was no longer adequate protection after a shot fired at Brown from within the vehicle went through Brown's hand and wrist, and other sundry nonsensical and baffling matters; I'm one to think all eyewitness testimony is shit because memory is a mangy dog, but science is good and noble and will tell us the truth--nobody ever remembers where they were when and what, but entrance and exit wounds are faithful and honest storytellers. I think I understand what they whispered to me, and what it says to me is that Michael Brown was going down or was down when he was killed. Stooped over, or on his knees. And stopped; whatever he was doing or had done, he was stopped.
I don't have the heart to say anything else. I feel bad for all those people in Ferguson who had their child, friend and neighbor gunned down and will go to jail as a result of it. I feel bad for this sad, sick country that was founded on a festering sin that hasn't yet been redeemed and on days like this feels like it won't be.