Idle No More: If A Tree Falls In The Forest

If a tree falls in the forest and lands on a person of color, is the forest racist or just the tree?

This week, acts of violence have been committed in Ferguson over the Grand Jury decision not to indict the white police officer who shot dead an 18-year-old African-American male who had physically assaulted the officer (among other offenses).

It’s been a horrific week, and many innocent people and businesses have been endangered by rioters claiming to be fighting for “justice” for the deceased.   The fact that I do not support the rioters who are committing acts of violence and looting businesses and homes in Ferguson has given rise to people accusing me of being racist.

The step-father of the deceased and the rioters are claiming that because the officer was not indicted, justice has not been served.  In fact, the step-father of the deceased has incited rioters to violence.  The problem with their argument is that those who support the argument that justice has not been served fail to understand how Grand Jury decisions are arrived at.  They are not based on emotion; they are based on facts presented.

The deceased man’s biological father, on the other hand, has stated through the media that violence is not the answer to the Grand Jury decision.  He made it clear that nothing could be gained by hurting others and destroying property.

In a similar case in Alabama, the Grand Jury chose not to indict the police officer who shot dead 18-year-old Gil Collar.

Over in Utah, the Grand Jury chose not to indict the police officer who shot dead 20-year-old Dillon Taylor.

As with the family of Michael Brown, the families of Gil Collar and Dillon Taylor were devastated and disappointed by the decision arrived at by the Grand Jury.

Unlike some of Michael Brown’s family members, the families of Gil Collar and Dillon Taylor did not incite rioters to acts of violence because the Grand Jury chose not to indict either of the officers responsible for the deaths of their adult children.

The question that arises between all three cases is this:  If the Grand Jury chooses not indict an officer responsible for the death of an individual, is that refusal to indict racist?

If the answer is yes, then the subsequent question is this:  Why was it racist in the Michael Brown case and not racist in either the Gil Collar or Dillon Taylor cases?

If the answer is arguably that the officers were doing their job in the cases of Gil Collar and Dillon Taylor, then it is arguably that the officer was doing his job in the case of Michael Brown.

If the facts presented to the Grand Jury do not warrant an indictment against a police officer, that is not racism.  That is justice as defined by the laws that govern the United Stated of America.

It is not racism to accept the decision of the Grand Jury operating under the laws that govern the United States of America.

It is not racism to be able to separate facts from emotion, and to see the situation from a third-party perspective.

There will always be unpopular decisions in life:  Some of your own doing, and some of other people’s doing.  This is why there are laws that clearly spell out what is and is not lawful, as agreed to by the majority of people and expressed through voting, peaceful protests, and awareness campaigns.

Rather than support lawlessness and vigilante justice, support education. Knowledge is power.  It is also empowering.

Michael Brown Sr has chosen to walk alongside those who believe that violence is not the answer.  And if that makes Michael Brown Jr’s father racist, then perhaps it’s time people looked up the definition in the dictionary rather than toss around the word carelessly.

Elyse Bruce


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