If you live in a cave somewhere, are spending too much time on social media, or reside in another nation besides the United States and haven’t watched television recently, you might not know that marches, riots, and looting are taking place in a St. Louis, Missouri suburb called Ferguson.
Nearly every night for a week.
One of the main slogans of the marchers is “No Justice, No Peace.” I agree with the general maxim that righteousness in society helps to encourage public tranquility, but it goes much deeper than that.
Without character, there can be no peace, justice or freedom.
First of all for those of you who have not been following the news, here are the facts about a police shooting in Ferguson that launched the rioting:
- On Saturday, August 9, 28-ear old Darren Wilson, a six year veteran of the Ferguson police department, shot and killed eighteen year old Robert Brown during the middle of the day. Wilson is white and Brown was black.
- Just prior to the shooting, Brown robbed a convenience store (stealing some cigars) while bullying one of its employees. The robbery was caught on tape and released by the local police department.
- Shortly after the robbery, Wilson saw Brown walking in the middle of a street and told him to get to the sidewalk. He did not respond to the policeman and an altercation followed.
- Brown was a big teenager–six foot four inches and nearly three hundred pounds. He was unarmed at the time of shooting.
- Brown was shot six times–all bullets entering the front of his body, indicating he was facing Wilson during the skirmish. Wilson was hurt in the fight and needed medical attention at a local hospital.
- There are conflicting eyewitness reports on the altercation. A friend of Brown’s, who was walking with him when the confrontation took place, says that the policeman was the aggressor, trying to pull Brown into the squad car. After the scuffle, the friend says that they ran away from the car and then Brown put his hands up as if to surrender. According to the friend, Wilson still shot the teenager in cold blood.
- According to Officer Wilson (via a friend), he had heard on the radio of the robbery, assumed it might be Brown, and confronted him. Brown then pushed him into the car, went for his gun and it went off. Brown then ran from the car, but when Wilson told him to freeze, Brown taunted him and began racing back toward him. Fearing for his life, Brown fired six bullets until he went down.
- Brown had traces of marijuana in his system at the time of his death.
Those are the facts about the event. Notice that I have given no commentary because it is way too early to discern what really happened and who is telling the truth. That will be left to an investigation and possible court trial.
Yet many people–and even some news outlets–have already tried the police officer in the court of public opinion and and found him guilty of race-motivated murder.
How do I know that? Here are the facts of that case:
- The predominantly black community of Ferguson has marched every evening holding signs indicating their certain verdict of Wilson’s guilt and Brown’s innocence.
- Stores have been looted and ransacked in response to the clamor for “justice” i.e. guilt for Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown.
- Some of America’s race hustlers–like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton–have descended on Ferguson to join the marchers and stir up the crowds. Jackson even tried to raise money for his race baiting empire at a Ferguson rally. (Fortunately, the crowd booed his money-grubbing approach.)
- Both CNN and MSNNBC did stories which shared only one side of the eyewitness accounts–the one that implicated the white officer. On CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage, one commentator stated falsely that “Michael Brown was shot in the back.” No one challenged the accusation.
- President Obama took time off from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to “ask for calm” in Ferguson. That was an appropriate thing, but he then made other statements that indicated that the killing might be racially motivated and that black young men are unnecessarily targeted in poor communities by white policemen.
- Eric Holder and fifty FBI agents have been sent to Ferguson to “get to the bottom of the case.” This seems a bit much as 20 murders take place in Chicago each week and no feds are dispatched to look into the “injustices” there.
So it appears to any fair-minded person that all of the above are trying to push race as the reason for this unfortunate death well before the facts can be learned.
To which I say, “No Patience, No Justice.”
No person, especially a police officer who puts his life on the line every day to protect our safety, should be assumed guilty for racial crimes until that is proved in a court of law.
Law and justice take time.
At least Fox News avoided the “gun-happy police” frenzy. Last night, the O-Reilly Factor shared the facts about police shootings in the United States for 2012 (the last year we have statistics). Here they are:
- In 2012, there were 12 million crimes that took place in the United State among our 320 million residents.
- 42% of those crimes were committed by whites, 34% by blacks, and 24% by Hispanics.
- Blacks are only 13% of the US population, but commit a high percent of the crimes.
- 34,000 crimes are committed everyday in the United States.
- The number of police shootings during those 34,000 daily crimes: 422.
Yes, you read that number right. Of the 34,000 times daily that American police confronted law breakers, only 1.2 percent of the time did the police use a gun.
That’s hardly being trigger happy.
There are no statistics that tell us whether those 422 shootings were committed by white or black cops. But it doesn’t matter.
Police shootings are rare–period.
So why is there such a rush to judgment in Ferguson, marches every night demanding “justice” (guilt) for white Officer Wilson when no investigation or trial is complete?
Let the investigation or courts discover who the truth. If the facts eventually show that Officer Wilson wrongfully murdered Michael Brown, then he should face stiff consequences for his crime. If the facts say that Michael Brown wrongly threatened and pummeled a police officer, and lost his life because of it, then he should not be viewed as a victim or hero.
So why do some black leaders in America rush to Missouri to create the impression that whites hate blacks, white policeman target black young men, and that we still live in segregated and discriminatory America when the facts say otherwise?
I’m sure there are a number of reasons, but most of them are not good including winning elections, padding their wallets, and preying on peoples’ fears.
None of this would be happening if we had the heart and character of a courageous black man named Martin Luther King who would certainly be denouncing the looting and rioting if he were alive today. Dr. King said that we must judge people not by “the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
So, according to MLK, here’s what should be happening in Ferguson and in the United States:
1. The marches should be peaceful. That takes character in the lives of concerned citizens.
2. There should be no looting of private property. That’s anarchy and taking advantage of the sobering events. When you see people benefiting from a tragedy for their own selfish gain, you know you are looking at devilish behavior–not godly character. Character respects the rights of others.
3. The entire nation should be patient as the wheels of justice turn and the case is settled judicially. Patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and one of the essential aspects of personal character (Romans 5:3-5).
Here’s a good summary of principles to reflect on:
If there’s no patience, there can be no justice–because time is required for facts to be learned.
If there is no character in our actions, then there can be no peace–just the abuse of others.
If we refuse to live by the godly character that Dr. King espoused, then there can be no freedom in neighborhoods, cities and towns.
And a final truth: a greater degree of character, peace, and patience is produced in a nation when people have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus who can rescue us from our selfish appetites. Even when there is patience and character, sometimes justice is not fully served on earth.
But it will be in eternity through the Prince of Peace.