All eyes have been on Ferguson, Missouri after Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18 year old Michael Brown. With each passing day, the American people continue to wonder what might happen before the night concludes. As police continue to take questionable actions against non violent protesters, former Gov. Jesse Ventura is making his voice heard.
Michael Brown was an 18 year old African American who was set to start his first day of college only two days after he was gunned down in the middle of the street. Reports of tear gas and rubber bullets being fired at protesters came out after the first night of protests, in addition to nearly a dozen journalists being arrested. Many have questioned the behavior and handling of the situation by the police force, and both sides have pointed out racial divisions.
On Thursday's episode of "Off the Grid" on Ora.tv, host and former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura highlighted the situation in Ferguson, and was asked his thoughts on the whole ordeal.
"I'm gonna startle people and say 'here's my impression of this whole thing:' racism. It's still alive and well in America, and this is a clear example of it. Racism on both sides. Whites don't trust blacks, blacks don't trust whites. It's out there and we have to continue to battle it, and continue to forge ahead because that is the ultimate problem here, I believe. Even more so then police brutality or anything like that. Yeah, that's out there. You look at police forces today, they look like the military."
Logan asked Ventura to elaborate on the use of police force and the questionable tactics they have taken since the protests broke out.
"The problem to me comes down to this. The use of lethal force. First of all, I oppose the use of the death penalty to begin with, but you're putting the death penalty out there on the street with the use of lethal force against crimes that are in the court room that could not rise to that level. The only thing that rises to the death penalty is murder. So unless you are out there committing murder, at what point do you use lethal force?...We understand that police have difficult jobs, we understand that. But the use of lethal force I think has become far too much...Lethal force should only be used as a last resort for a crime that warrants it."
"Off the Grid" producer, Alex Logan pointed to a Buzz Feed article that shows some alarming statistics. Of the 21,000 residents of Ferguson, MO, 67 percent are African American, compared to only 29 percent who are white. The comparison in their police force is nearly the opposite with only four African Americans representing a police force made up of 57 total members. When breaking down the statistics further, 86 percent of traffic stops were with African Americans, while less than 13 percent were white. That number jumps when looking at the percent of overall arrests in Ferguson, 92.7 percent that dealt with African American, and only 6.9 percent who were white. "You gotta admit Jesse was right at the start then. There's a bit of racism sneaking in here." Ventura stated. "I think we have to be honest with ourselves. Yes we've come along way since the 60s, but it clearly shows me we've got a long way to go people."
When asked to comment on the number of arrests of journalists, including those working for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, Ventura gave a clear message to the American people.
"There's something called the First Amendment people. And we are watching all of our Bill of Rights disappear to this government that's suppose to work for us. It ain't gonna happen as long as you keep electing Democrats and Republicans."
Jesse Ventura has been an outspoken voice for freedom and for the rights of the people. Whether it's as governor or outspoken host of Off the Grid, the man known as "the Body" will continue to do just that.