The news this morning out of Ferguson is grim. It’s unfortunately what I expected following the grand jury in the Michael Brown case. Unless the grand jury came back with an indictment for first degree murder (which wasn’t going to happen), there would be riots. And this morning, parts of St. Louis are burning.
I grew up in the St. Louis metro area. I went to law school in St. Louis. St. Louis isn’t a big city, but it’s a city I love. (To tie it to running, since this is ostensibly a fitness blog, I learned to run while in St. Louis and ran my first races there.) And St. Louis is filled with awesome people, hundreds of whom were out last night to pray and march and peacefully protest. That peace was broken by a number of idiots who took the opportunity to rage and loot and burn down buildings. This morning, reporters talked about an older woman who begged looters to spare her antiques store. They didn’t. People ransacked a Toys R’ Us. What good does that do? It just makes us look bad. Us as a city and us as a nation. Because the peaceful protesters, the ones out chanting and praying, just get ignored.
I don’t know if the decision made was right or wrong. I went to law school and focused on criminal litigation. I believe in the system. I know that the system sometimes get it wrong, but I have to have faith that it was done properly. I know people who work as both prosecutors and public defenders in that court and these are people that I respect and admire. The prosecutor claims he did what he could to try to avoid allegations that he was biased and presented more evidence to the grand jury than is typical. Some are saying this overloaded the grand jury. It’s a no win situation. I plan to read through the documents just out of my own interest, but I don’t know that there is a right answer. I do think that we don’t know the whole story and won’t know the whole story. The release of the grand jury documents will help, but even that can’t explain what exactly happened that night. And I agree that the media sensationalizing the situation hasn’t helped. Right now, the big news is the violence and the looting. That shouldn’t be the story.
What is true is that a young black man is dead. This has ignited racial issues that have simmered for years and years in St. Louis. The city is trying to pull together and to show the world that St. Louis isn’t just violence and rioting. St. Louis is a great city, a city that yes, has problems, but a city that has wonderful people working to fix those problems. I can only hope that this case spurs more positive change and doesn’t cause a downward spiral.
We’re better than this.