- - Monday, December 1, 2014

On Nov. 24 a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown Jr. This lack of an indictment, as expected, led to all sorts of vandalism and other acts of violence.

I won’t bore you with all the legalese, but simply put, a grand jury is a legal body that is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. In other words, was there enough evidence to charge Mr. Wilson with murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter? The answer to all of the above was no according to the grand jury.

To no one’s surprise, reactions were very predictable based on one’s political views. Conservatives said the “system” worked. Liberals said justice was not served without an indictment. 

Then, there is the truth! What happened in Ferguson with Brown’s shooting is very complicated; but everyone is talking in grossly simplistic terms, and it does a disservice to those who have good intentions in this national conversation.

Before I proceed, allow me to provide some context. I am a native of St. Louis, and Ferguson is 10 minutes away from St. Louis. I am very familiar with Ferguson and spent lots of time there.

Ferguson has a population of about 21,000 people. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 14,297 blacks (67 percent) and 6,206 whites (33 percent); 22 percent live in poverty; the mayor is white; there is only one black on a 6-member city council (16.7 percent); three blacks out of 53 policemen (5.6 percent); and the St. Louis suburb is the sixth most segregated city in the U.S.

In August, 2014, Ferguson had local elections: Only 12.3 percent of eligible voters actually voted (17 percent whites, 6 percent black); 11.7 percent in 2013; and 8.9 percent in 2012. 

According to the most recent numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2012), 16 percent of the black labor force in Ferguson was unemployed, compared to 8.5 percent of the white labor force.

St. Louis County (which includes Ferguson) had a black unemployment rate of 17.8 percent, while the white unemployment rate was only 5.7 percent. Ferguson is 2 percent of the county.

All these pathologies didn’t happen overnight. Ferguson and St. Louis County have been ruled by Democrats for well over 30 years. Ferguson didn’t just happen — it has been waiting to happen, and Democrats didn’t give a damn until now.

Hardly a week goes by without another unarmed black being shot by the police — New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, etc. Blacks feeling like it’s open season on them is not totally unfounded. Conservatives need to understand that “systems” in and of themselves are not “pure.” Meaning that systems can be legally manipulated to get a desired outcome. It’s done every day in every walk of life.

Liberals need to understand that an indictment simply means that the grand jury found enough probable cause that a crime was committed. It doesn’t mean a person is guilty, just that a crime “might” have been committed. A criminal trial would determine the innocence or guilt of the defendant.

Legalities aside, what I found most interesting was Mr. Wilson’s description to the grand jury of the look on Brown’s face when he was running towards Wilson: “The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.” Well, I don’t know what a demon looks like, so I have no idea what Mr. Wilson meant. 

This comment by Mr. Wilson does lead to a broader issue that no one in the black community seems willing to have. What have we done in the black community to make whites, especially policemen, devalue our lives? I would posit that we are now seeing the grandchildren of hip-hop turn into adults. These are kids who grew up on calling their women bitches and hoes; calling each other niggazs; and promoting thug life and prison culture.

This current version of hip-hop is a perversion of the true hip-hop that gave us Kurtis Blow, the Sugar Hill Gang, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, DJ Jazzy Jazz and the Fresh Prince, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte, to name a few.

Blacks have created a visual and verbal Frankenstein that we can no longer control. The message is to get rich or die trying; and if you are going to die, take as many people as you can with you. It is easy to kill someone who has been labeled as a “monster,” a thug or a menace to society. We have told white America that we are just a bunch of hypersexualized, gun-toting, drug-using animals out to have sex with their white daughters.

For the past 30 years, we have created images of blacks in the most negative of lights. There is no shortage of those who say: It’s just music. It’s just a movie. It’s just a reality TV show.

To them I say: Now it’s just another black body lying in the streets of America.

Raynard Jackson is a Republican political consultant, syndicated columnist and author of the book “Writing Wrongs: My Political Journey in Black and Write.” Web: www.raynardjackson.com.

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