This is a six part series commemorating the major events of 2014. More information can be found after the article.
On Saturday, August 9, 2014 a Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. It’s sadly an event that happens fairly regularly in the US, what’s different about this one is how the community and the world reacted to it.
The primarily black community started to protest Brown’s death in the streets of Ferguson and a series of poorly chosen police intervention tactics lead to a rapid escalation of the situation. Police were blocking reporters, telling people to turn their cameras off and then proceeded to use sonic techniques and tear gas on the crowd while dressed in riot gear.
People across the world started comparing photos of Ferguson to those of US soldiers across oceans, pointing out that soldiers often wear less protective gear then the police on our own ground. Scenes of Ferguson circulated from the viewpoint of night vision depicting large armored vehicles shooting off tear gas preceded by a phalanx of police generated strange emotions. There was an odd sense of familiarity because we’ve seen it before and fear that this is happening right now in 2014 in the US not across an ocean this time.
Over a short amount of time the message became a mixed commentary of the still very real existence of racism in America, and the casual and excessive of brutality by police forces. Not too long after a white cop strangled a black man to death in New York adding fuel to the fire.
The protests didn’t stop, they continued in Ferguson and others started in many other cities across the States and even other countries including Japan. The motto was “hands up, don’t shoot”.
During this time Darren Wilson’s case went to a grand jury to see if there was enough evidence to do a trial for the murder of Michael Brown. When, against all odds, the grand jury decided not to indict, protests flared again this time including rioting across the nation. Days later the New York cop also got a pass.
The story continues into 2015 with police turning their back on their Mayor publicly, cops being attacked by citizens, stories of perjury and disbarment.
I feel like this is a very telling story of our time. We rely on police to protect us, but also fear them even when we aren’t in the wrong. We like to think we are beyond racism, but while we attempt to ignore it, it continues to exist. We put trust in our judicial system, and see signs of corruption. We rely on media to share the unbiased truth of the story, only to further divided as a country. It’s an interesting world we live in. There is order, security, chaos, and fragility of life all working together at the same time to create an illusion of peace while continuing to be a violent place.
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This is one in a 6 part series designed to commemorate the various major events of 2014.
- February 7–23, 2014: Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia
- Saturday, March 8, 2014: The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
- June 12, 2014 – July 13, 2014: Brazil hosts World Cup
- Saturday, August 9, 2014: Cop shoots teenager in Ferguson, Missouri
- September – October 2014: Ebola spreads fear in United States
- Wednesday, November 12, 2014: Philae Makes Earth's First Ever Landing on a Comet