As an outsider looking in at the situation in Ferguson, MO, I am dismayed. An unarmed young black man, ready to start college, was gunned down by a white police officer in broad daylight while horrified spectators watched. Then, we see video footage released from a convenience store showing him involved in a petty theft. Was this the first time he was involved in such a crime? We don’t know. We don’t know the whole story since we don’t have the policeman’s version of the incident. Did he think the young man had a gun on him because the stolen cigars were bulging in his pocket? What transpired is between the young man, the policeman and the friend who witnessed the shooting.
Then, the chaos and mayhem that ensued after the shooting leaves us shaking our heads. Why did the community feel the need to destroy property and steal from merchants in their town who provide jobs? What did they have to do with the shooting? Then, the retaliation against the convenience store which had already been robbed and now was being assaulted. When we see havoc like this, our sympathies become twisted. The tragedy of Michael Brown’s death is only compounded by the criminal, yes criminal, actions of his community. Our emotions are conflicted. While we feel sympathy for this young man’s family, how do we feel anything but revulsion for the response in Ferguson?
Our concern, as citizens, should be on the growing problem of violence in our country not only among private citizens but police officers as well. There is a hair trigger mentality afoot–shoot first and ask questions later. James 1:9 reminds us we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Our country has stopped listening and is quick to anger. We don’t want to hear what the other person has to say when we feel our personal rights have been violated. We want justice but as the situation in Ferguson is indicating there may be more to a story than what we first hear.