You are a 28 year-old man with a bright future in law enforcement. You’re on the job in a small city outside of St. Louis, patrolling a predominantly black community for the last six years. You have received commendations for outstanding work and never disciplined for anything. You’re soft spoken, friendly to everyone and referred to in the highest terms of respect and honor by everyone who knows you.
You’re on routine patrol one day. A call that goes out about a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store. As you’re nearing the scene, you spot two black males walking in the street, one of whom is quite large. You do your job and order them to get off the roadway.
They ignore your order. You stop the patrol car. You are not expecting what follows. As you’re exiting the patrol car, the large male suddenly comes at you with a powerful punch to the face delivered by a humongous fist. In a split second, your whole world turns upside down. The large fellow starts walking away. He has just committed a felony. You’re stunned, in pain, confused, shaking. But you have to do something.
You reach for your pistol and order him to stop. He doesn’t. Instead he comes back at you, challenging. He’s already punched you in the face. He’s unarmed, but the mere size of a young man, 6’4”, 300 pounds, is intimidating enough to realize you’re no match, physically. You are suddenly scared to death, fearful of being pummeled by this behemoth of an angry young man. As he nears, you panic and start pulling the trigger in his direction, two, three, maybe six shots, whatever it takes to stop him from maiming or killing you.
The young man collapses. You don’t know he’s only eighteen years old. You don’t know he’s just committed a felony at a convenience store. All you know is that you’re shaking inside, injured and emotionally wracked because you just did something you hoped you would never do in your entire life.
This had nothing to do with the young man being white, black or purple. You were just doing your job by ordering two boys off the dangerous streets, and from there, it mushroomed into an incident. You did everything the right way.
But that doesn’t matter now.
Fast forward nearly two weeks later. You have been villainized as a racist by everyone in local, state and federal governments. Angry citizens by the thousands are chanting for vengeance, declaring you as a hater of black people. The media is on a frenzy, stoking the flames of disorder as you flee to an undisclosed location because of threats to kill you.
You are a symbol of the criminal justice system, but you see something else unfurling before your eyes as you read newspapers and watch television from your hiding place. You always thought the system was about evenness and fairness, where justice is determined in a court room where evidence is presented challenged and evaluated before judgment is reached.
But that’s not happening for you. You’re different. You’re a white cop. The dead kid is black. You’re guilty.
You are astounded at the responses by prominent individuals who seem to have already tried and convicted you, reaching conclusions before knowing the array of evidence.
Governor Jay Nixon: “A vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.”
Congressman Lacy Clay: “I have absolutely no confidence in the Ferguson Police or the County Prosecutor. I know we won’t get a fair shake.”
Captain Ron Johnson, Highway Patrol: “I wear this uniform and I should stand here and say ‘I’m sorry.’”
Al Sharpton: “Justice for Michael Brown and his family.”
Benjamin Crump, family attorney: “They tried it with Trayvon, now they’re trying it with Michael.”
Darrel Parks, Brown family spokesman: “The person who shot Michael should be on trial.”
Attorney General Eric Holder: “I understand the mistrust. I am Attorney General, but I am also a black man.”
You’re watching the purveyors of racial hatred signing petitions in a call for the removal of respected County Prosecutor from the case. Robert McCulloch has been elected four times in sixteen years by the predominantly black electorate with an impeccable record, including several successful prosecutions of police officers. But he’s not trusted because his father was killed by a black person fifty years ago.
You’re seeing the beginnings of a lynch mob, setting the ground for a vigorous hate-filled prosecution hell-bent on seeing you in prison, or else. And if you are not prosecuted and convicted, the communities will burn, just like they did in L.A. and Miami. Everyone is on edge.
And if you are not charged or fail to be convicted, the power of the federal government will step in by adding charges about violating civil rights. You’re going to prison, one way or another. Guilt or innocence is not an issue.
It’s all about revenge. You now realize you will pay the price for all those racist cops in America who abused black people over the last century.
You are sorry that you had to fire that weapon. You feel sorry for the family of Michael Brown. But no one is listening. You don’t matter. Everyone, from the top law enforcement officer of the nation to the street people, all declare the need for justice for Michael Brown. But justice doesn’t apply to you.
No national figures are coming to visit you. No celebrities, no whites, blacks or Asians. You are alone.
So you turn the channel to get your mind clear, and you see another issue stirring emotions from across the globe. An American journalist has had his head severed from his body by fanatics, though he is guilty of no crime.
Your heart skips a beat. You see what’s coming.
Welcome to America the beautiful