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Controversial cases shouldn't open the door for hatred

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

The Michael Brown case has clearly chiseled a deep divide in our country – one that has only grown since the announcement of the grand jury’s decision to not indict the officer. On one hand, you have people that stand blindly behind Darren Wilson, the officer that shot and killed Brown. On the other hand you have those that blindly rally behind Michael Brown. There’s something these two groups have in common though they’d probably never care to admit it – neither of them are interested in the facts.
Regardless of one’s interpretation of the facts as stated, the law has spoken. Darren Wilson will not be indicted. However, this case and others like it have opened a dialogue about officer accountability. Brown’s parents are pushing for body cameras that would bear foolproof witness to heated situations as they occur. I see this as positive change. It would protect not only the officer but those they serve.
But this isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong. What’s most troubling about this case is the venom with which each side has chosen to relay their stance. It seems that many people on either side make their case as a result of preconceived notions, rather than considering what actually took place on that tragic day. The court of public opinion is grossly undereducated.
I have seen more racist commentary than I care to mention coming from the Caucasian community who by and large support the officer. I have also seen talks of condoning violence toward police officers coming from supposed representatives of the African-American community. Both are equally disgusting.
For those that feel the racism argument is merely used as an excuse, consider this: It is proven that African-Americans receive on average a 10% longer prison sentence than Caucasians for the same crimes. African-Americans are also 20% more likely to receive a prison sentence than Caucasians and 33% more likely to be detained while awaiting trial. Locally, there is still an active branch of the Ku Klux Klan as well as an active neo-Nazi hate group –a branch of “The Creativity Alliance,” which touts itself as a Christian-based church. But racism is simply a cop out, right?
Those that blindly discredit law enforcement officers as badge-toting racists should also consider the facts. What about Officer Ramos who was recently witnessed literally giving a homeless man the shirt off his back? What about the 23 NYPD officers that were killed in the World Trade Center on September 11 as they rushed to aid in whatever capacity they could? What about the 113 officers that have been killed in the line of duty in 2014 (an increase of 28% from 2013) alone?

Certainly it doesn’t take a genius to see that the system is fundamentally flawed. Instead of pointing the finger of blame or adding fuel to the fire by making hate-driven comments, why not attempt to be part of the solution?