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Reflections on Ferguson

To the Editor:

Here are some things to think about, from a practical white dude who despises racism and the current immature state of our society.

Your kids may or may not look like the one that was shot. That is fine, however, that doesn’t mean your children are anything like him. Most commenting about him know nothing about him other than he was shot and killed. Stop comparing your children to him. It’s just to pump people up.

Should black folks be mad? Absolutely. They should be mad at the people that are committing “justice” crimes that make the police a little more wary in some communities in the first place.

Should white folks be mad? Absolutely. They should be mad at the same people as the black folks. Take this on to any race you like.

Was this about race? Probably not. Do you really think the officer shot the young man because he was black? If race is the only possible reason one sees behind interactions between different races, it will always be about race. I promise.

Are police officers over-stepping their authority more today than they have in the past? Not sure, but if all you do is watch social media and the news, you’re bound to think so.

Was the young man that was shot an angel that was “just walking down the street minding his own business?” Probably not. A relative of the boy was quoted as saying he was not an angel. Yes, I heard this personally. Do people really think that the young man was simply standing there with his hands up and the officer shot him to death? Really?

Should Trayvon Martin be brought up as a comparison? Nope. The killer in that incident was found innocent after one day of jury deliberations on a case that was massive in the national media and influenced by our president and his staff. That’s a bad example and should not be used.

Should the police officer be ”brought to justice”? Absolutely, if he was in the wrong. There is a due process for that and the feds are involved.

What about all this racism that exists everywhere? Well, it doesn’t – at least not at the ground level with most, real people. I was recently selected for jury duty and the process gave me a little more hope for mankind. There was an excellent cross-section of America selected, and it wasn’t a pretty case. Black, white, hispanic, middle eastern, men, women – and they all were very objective about the case, how they would or would not judge the defendant, etc. It was awesome. We’re all a lot more alike than the folks in the media and those committing crimes would have us believe.

What can we all learn from this? We can learn about all the steps that led up to this young man’s death, and which ones could have prevented it had different decisions been made. I reckon both the young man and the police officer could have prevented this incident. This says nothing about fault, to be clear. Prevention is quite different.

If the limited amount we know so far is true, then:

• when you are asked to do something by a police officer, you comply and save your questions or comments for an appropriate time, no matter how much you despise them. They are authority figures in uniform whether you like it or not and they will shoot you if pushed far enough. Why push at all?

• what was the police officer’s tone of voice when he addressed the young men? Was it rude? If so, did it have to be? There was a great movie back in the 90s where Robert Duvall taught Sean Penn a lot about successful police work in the rough areas of L.A., and he was spot on. The lesson was to make friends with those that you really aren’t after to get to those you are. Probably could have been applied here.

Deryk Rieves


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