By Cameron Pierre-Pierre
Cameron Pierre-Pierre is a junior at the University of Rochester studying history and philosophy.
When you turn on most U.S cable or network news channels, a lot of what you may hear about the Ferguson shooting incident is about race — an unarmed black teenager shot by a white police officer. It’s a classic tale of racial inequality in America. The mainstream news pushes this narrative to the general public, with the exception of Fox News that denies it altogether.
But as much of the racial aspect that may or may not have played into what happened on Aug. 9 in the small St. Louis suburb, it isn’t why I decided to march against the grand jury’s decision regarding Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
I decided to march because this incident is about much more than race in America. The grand jury’s decision to not to indict Wilson over Michael Brown’s shooting showed me there is a profound need for change in our justice system. As a 21-year-old junior in college with aspirations to pursue a law degree, I simply couldn’t sit idle while I watch this injustice unfold.
We live in a country that claims to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, yet only some of our people are free, and as Officer Wilson’s interview with ABC News showed, bravery is also on a steady decline. Fear and doubt are two feelings that come to mind when I hear a trained police officer describe an unarmed young man as Hulk Hogan, while the officer describes himself as a five year old.
The grand jury’s verdict shows me our legal system does not value the lives of people of color. After months of protests, militaristic responses by local law enforcement, and nationwide feelings of grief for the loss of Brown, it all seems to be for nothing.
But, the beauty of America is that it is never too late. Maybe Officer Wilson will never go to prison; maybe the Brown family will never get the closure they need. These are things I just can’t know. What I do know is that when we all get together and express our thoughts and opinions peacefully and respectfully, our people, our nation, our republic, will only become more robust and serve the people it was designed to protect; all of us, black, white and everything in between.
It’s impossible to change what happened on that fateful summer day in the Midwest; the avoidable killing of Michael Brown. But when we the people show our will to the masses, we can initiate the types of changes that will allow for these sorts of incidents to never happen again.
R.I.P. Michael Brown, your life will not have been lost in vain. With your death, our country will begin a new life, a better life, one that will truly provide liberty and justice for all.
What makes me so optimistic about this? It’s hard to know for sure, but it seems as if Ferguson finally let the cat out of the bag. It would be tragic if the racial and police issues of this case got swept back under the carpet and ignored by the people. That’s why I marched down Manhattan, so that they don’t forget. Not now. Not ever.
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