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Monday, October 24, 2016

By James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Why did the Ferguson Police Department leave the body of Michael Brown uncovered in the hot street after a police officer killed him?

If you want to know why African-American men and women in Ferguson, Mo., are so upset, put yourself in their place for a moment.

All you need to do is look at the cellphone video of Brown lying in the middle of the street — in broad daylight — face down with a long trail of blood coming from his body.

In video shown on CNN, a woman is heard screaming: “Who the — did it? Who the — did it?” Other people are heard screaming, “Where is the ambulance? Where is the ambulance?”

After Brown was shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, Brown’s body lay in the street for hours. He was not covered up for some time. His body was not taken to a hospital or morgue.

Brown’s body just lay there, surrounded by yellow tape.

People are angry because animals often are treated with more respect when they are hit by a car.

Even if the Ferguson police did not want to disturb the crime scene, they at least should have put a barricade around the body so that children couldn’t see what happens when six bullets tear into a person.

The results of a second autopsy released Sunday shows that the 18-year-old was shot twice in the head and four times in the arm. There was no indication that Brown had been in an altercation, which seems to contradict the statements of Brown’s friend, who said the officer grabbed Brown’s neck with one hand and shot him with the other.

I realize that the Ferguson department is small, but that doesn’t excuse the obvious missteps. To make matters worse, Ferguson is 70 percent black, but the police force is nearly all white. Blacks in town make up more than 80 percent of all vehicle stops and 85 percent of all arrests. Before Brown’s shooting, there were numerous complaints of racial harassment by law enforcement.

I have received a number of emails from people saying that my columns on this issue have been to “blame whitey” for the shooting and that when blacks kill blacks, it does not generate nearly the same outcry from the black community.

My take is this: I’m not blaming anyone, but it looks suspicious when dozens of unarmed black men are killed or die in police custody every year. When there are shootings in the black community, the police often do a good job of rounding up the shooters, charging them and sending them away to prison for years or even life. The same cannot be said when police officers kill unarmed people in custody. When that happens, it usually is passed off as a “training issue,” and seldom are police officers prosecuted.

The family of Dontre Hamilton, 31, who was killed by a Milwaukee police officer in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, may be a case in point. Hamilton’s family still wonders if any charges will be filed after the death of their loved one. Hamilton was shot 15 times, his family has claimed, by the officer after an altercation. His family said Hamilton had a history of mental illness. Some of the family members took part in a march over the weekend to protest police brutality.

From 2006 to 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country. In the past decade alone, hundreds have lost their lives to police.

Bottom line: The Ferguson Police Department has bungled the Brown case. And now with a tighter curfew and calls for the National Guard, things don’t seem to be calming down.

People should make their voices heard on this. But they have to do so in a reasonable fashion. Rioting is a terrible response and only harms the community. The people who are rioting in Ferguson need to understand that and put an end to lawlessness.

But the rest of America needs to understand something else: why there is so much anger among blacks in a place such as Ferguson. It’s because black people are dying at the hands of police and then sometimes are treated no better than road kill. That’s why folks are so angry. It’s why they have a right to be angry.

James E. Causey writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Readers may send him email at [email protected]

AFP Photo/Michael B. Thomas

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  • SilentSword

    “From 2006 to 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country.” — Can we get a citation for this?

    • joe schmo

      Gee….and in Ferguson, this is the first black person killed by an officer in like forever….. I suppose you wish the police officer who was trying to protect the community deserved to die at the hands of a bully?

      Statistically blacks kill other blacks more often than any other ethnic group. Why is that not an outrage?

      Great article by Larry Elder a BLACK best selling author and radio host:

      ‘While media covered Ferguson as if it were D-Day, there were other incidents of “racial” news that never became national stories:

      A rabbi in Miami, walking to the synagogue, was murdered by two young black males. Crime unsolved.

      A black homeless man was stabbed to death by six illegal aliens last month. No national debate on porous borders and the crime committed by illegals?

      A 72-year-old white man is seen on video knocked down by a young black man ?- apparently part of the so-called Knockout game.

      In Philadelphia, a black park ranger was brutally beaten by a black
      skater when the ranger told him skating was not allowed there. All was captured on video tape.

      For the third time in as many years, a Chinese graduate student at
      USC was murdered in South Central Los Angeles last month. Four teens have been arrested, including one illegal alien. Were these Chinese students racially profiled? No national debate on the issue of crime committed by illegal aliens who enter through our porous borders?

      By all means, investigate the Ferguson shooting. But where’s the perspective?

      The No. 1 cause of preventable death for young black men is homicide.For whites, it’s unintentional injuries, such as car accidents. And if a high percentage of the kids in a neighborhood are without dads, and if those children are 20 times more likely to end up in jail, isn’t this a far bigger problem than the rare instance in which an unarmed black person — unjustifiably or not — is killed by a cop?’

      • JPHALL

        Only if you are White. It is funny that some white people think that others must think like them despite different lives. You obviously have never read a Black or Hispanic newspaper or listen to their radio programs. Only the White media ignores your stories.

  • Canistercook

    Wonder why?