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Muddy water in Ferguson, Missouri: Both sides should just 'shut up'

The presence of the Missouri State Police has stemmed the tide of violence in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. MSN.com reported Friday that the teargas and riot gear was gone, and state troopers were described as walking peacefully beside the protesters. The facts in the highly-charged case, however, are just as clear as mud. Despite new information released by the Ferguson Police Department Friday, there is still no concise understanding of what happened on Aug. 9.

Police presented these photos of Michael Brown's alleged involvement in a robbery before his death.
Police presented these photos of Michael Brown's alleged involvement in a robbery before his death.Photo by Handout/Getty Images

The police bowed to pressure from protesters and released the name of the officer involved in the shooting death. Darren Wilson, 28, was publicly identified, even though death threats had been levelled against him. Wilson is described as a quiet individual who has been with the force for four years, according to New York Daily News, although the police indicated his service was six years.

What would have been helpful, although possibly not feasible at this time, is some exculpatory evidence that would shed light on what really happened. Any footage taken by a dash camera in the police car, any recordings or radio transmissions that would indicate what type of struggle happened inside the squad car would be most enlightening. Forensic reports from the weapon that was fired would also be very important to establishing the timeline.

Instead, the Ferguson Police Department released the above photos from the convenience market where Michael Brown allegedly had stolen a box of cigarillos in the hours before the fatal police encounter. The photo shows him roughing up the much-smaller employee in the process of the theft. MSN.com did report that his friend, Dorian Johnson, confirmed that Brown did take cigarillos from the market. Officer Wilson did not know that the teen was a suspect in the robbery at the time of the encounter that ended in Brown’s death. Protesters have expressed outrage that the police have sullied the reputation of Brown.

The very disconcerting part of a case like this, as was the case with the Trayvon Martin investigation, is that the voices get louder and angrier as the information gets sketchier. Many in the black community immediately assume the officer killed Michael Brown in cold blood because of his race. There are conflicting voices that immediately jump to the defense of the white police officer without knowing any real details of what happened. Did we as a society learn nothing from the Trayvon Martin case? Race relations and justice in general would be well-served if everyone, both white and black, could just take a breath and wait for the facts.