You would think that with the way that U.S. Rep. Lacie Clay is protesting the unfortunate death of Michael Brown that police are bludgeoning protesters while they march in Selma. Of course, Selma never happened in Ferguson.
Michael Brown was not an innocent, law abiding citizen when he was confronted by Officer Darren Wilson. Blacks in Selma were marching to achieve the same rights that whites had
Civic leaders in Ferguson are protesting the killing of a black who would have been charged with theft and assault. It is unfortunate that many black leaders like Rep. Clay are more than willing to use King’s legacy to help make black thugs look more like heroes than, well, criminals.
Clay welcomed the Congressional Black Caucus to Ferguson, at the Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson to address the Michael Brown incident, and how it affects the nation.
He also wants to pursue change via the ballot box, federal legislation, and Justice System and local law enforcement. Nine members of the CBC, including Clay, came to the event, January 18, 2015, according to a statement.
Clay, representing the First Congressional District in St. Louis, spoke at the church, talking about the killing of young black men.
But while he did address tragic killings of young black men, sometimes by police, he forgot to mention the more frequent killing of young blacks in the inner cities of St. Louis and elsewhere by armed black men. The difference between justice during Dr. Martin Luther King’s day and today should be clear: young black men did not kill other black men in the ‘60s.
But if they had, it would not have been swept under the rug by King. It would seem that on the whole, the harassment or killing of black men by white police officers, would be the least concern of black civic leaders who are trying to reclaim the heritage of King.
Clay spoke of the need for local authorities to pursue justice for Mike Brown and his family. The problem is that Clay is ignoring the fact that blacks and whites alike, cannot order justice to be done as they see fit.
This is exactly what Mr. King preached against in his time. Courts were stacked, with majority white jury, against blacks.
This phenomena can be see in the famous movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” where Gregory Peck, playing Atticus Finch, attempts to clear his client, a black man, who clearly was not guilty of what he was accused of doing.
It’s a far cry from the grand jury decision that found no charges against the police officer who killed Brown. If anything, black protesters seemed to be acting like the white mob that formed in front of the jail, to face off against Finch.
Instead of the best of what the black race has to offer to society, what we get in many of the protesters and looters in Ferguson, is a fulfillment of some basic stereotypes that many whites (and other non-white races in the U.S.) have about blacks: they are unruly, they are natural thugs and thieves, with a mom like mentality.
My only question is whether someone of the same race, a black person of the law, would be able to talk some sense into many of the protesters, like Finch did with his white “friends.” In the state of frenzy that many of they were in, it’s doubtful.
The justice that came from the grand jury may not have been the kind of justice that Mr. Clay would prefer, but justice, real justice, is not something that should be determined in the court of public opinion.
The idea that this killing somehow reflects what happened during King’s long journey for
justice for black people in this nation is simply false.
Blacks who were arrested on trumped up charges were not criminals and usually did not engage in criminal behavior. They usually were falsely suspected of being such, with the attached suffering that came with it. But police in the south were mean and oppressive; the punishment they gave did not fit the behavior.
If one was black, one could be innocent, but in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it would not matter. It seems that black leaders like Rep. Lacie Clay have no sense of black civil rights history, and no sense of real justice.
One has to ask whether the kind of justice asked for by Clay is a kind of “revenge” justice, like the kind that unjustly set free O.J. Simpson, when he was clearly guilty of killing two white people. Many blacks cheered when the not-guilty verdict was read at the Simpson trial, as though it were their own real like Atticus Finch trial, but with justice being undone.
Clay says Robert McCullough is guilty of allowing false testimony in the grand jury trial. Of whom is he referring to? Should a prosecuting attorney be blamed for allowing witnesses to testify in a grand jury trial even though some of the testimony could be false? Should he ask them before they give testimony whether they are going to lie?
The majority of eye witnesses in this trial were black. Evidently Mr. Clay is unconcerned that many of those black residents have voluntarily provided testimony to a grand jury that is full of lies.
We know that Brown’s friend’s first account of the incident provided the first example of lying to police about the circumstances of his death. He probably lied about Brown putting his hands up and attempting to surrender as well.
Members of the CBC should grieve the death of Michael Brown, as they should any young man. But acting like his death had nothing to do with his behavior when he was confronted by police is really using the young man’s death to promote one’s own cause, not the justice of King. And it amounts to race baiting - using any means necessary, whether just or unjust to promote a cause of one’s own choosing. One would hope that black churches in Ferguson would be above allowing this kind of behavior to tarnish the name of Christianity. Sadly, that is not the case.
What is bad about this case is how difficult it is for a black man like Michael Brown to get a high school education, as was shared by his mother, Leslie McFadden, in a statement to teh media. What kind of environment would cause Mr. Brown to use his height and weight to push a Ferguson store owner into a store rack and steal cigars? Then to walk down the middle the street with it.
In fact, Officer Darren Wilson had no control over the upbringing of Mr. Brown, and whether he turned out good or bad
Attacking Mr. Wilson beyond the reasonable measures of the court system sends the wrong message to the black community: that we don’t care about why young black men become criminals - we have no control over it, and probably never will.
It should send shockwaves to black congregations across the U.S. The message is clear; we are not going to improve poor communities in the U.S. by making it safe for those not having guns at their disposal. In fact, we are going to defend criminals like Mr. Brown, young though he may be, as well as people who obtain and use handguns illegally.
So desperate are we for some kind of symbol that we are willing to use nearly anybody to help our case, to give us some attention.
This is the real tragedy of Mr. Clay’s address at the Wellspring United Methodist Church.
A people no longer in slavery have essentially become slaves again.
What will it take to decrease the number of black lives that are being killed by blacks?
Mr. Clay’s district, which includes poverty-stricken black areas, should be forever changed by the death’s of blacks by armed black men. Unfortunately, these kinds of killings, murders, have become commonplace. Perhaps this is why Mr. Clay and other leaders in the CBC, don’t address it.
It seems to be easier to use a black thug as bait to recapture the dream of King. Mr. Clay talks about the courageous young black people who are protesting the incident. But where are the young people who are challenging the status quo in black ghettos, where women cry out for justice in light of the murders of countless innocent young people.
Why does Mr. Clay not organize protests after the killing of innocent blacks in North St. Louis, in his district?
The repeated killing of young black men and women by armed black men should not happen in Mr. Clay’s America. But it is happening in North St. Louis, in his district. The question is, what if anything will Mr. Clay do about it?
It is indeed unfortunate that this kind of congressional spectacle had to take place in a church that is supposed to be a symbol of freedom and justice. Others in attendance included Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D) North Carolina, Pastor F. Willis Johnson, Jr. Chairman Butterfield, and Congressman Andre Carson (D) Indiana.
© 2014 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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