President Obama, from the garden of his vacation retreat, addressed the nation yesterday in the wake of another execution-style shooting of a young black male. With leaves the only things hanging from the trees in the background, Obama called for “reflection and understanding” after the “heartbreaking” killing of unarmed Michael Brown by police in the town of Ferguson, Missouri.
In his first comments about a killing that has triggered riots in the St. Louis suburb, Obama acknowledged that the shooting of the 18-year-old Michael Brown has “prompted strong passions,” and urged people to have a discussion “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
The President’s countenance was reminiscent of his sadness following the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. “Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve,” Obama said from Martha's Vineyard.
Frustration over another shooting of another black child has left Michael Brown’s neighborhood in civil unrest. Failure of the police to release the name of the officer has raised outrage over another possible cover up of police brutality. Attempts by reporters to uncover more witnesses revealed years of distrust and fears of retaliation from the town of Ferguson Police Department, which only has three African American officers on its fifty-three member force.
On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division would probe the fatal shooting, saying the incident “deserves a fulsome review.”
“At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right,” Holder said. “I will continue to receive regular updates on this matter in the coming days.”
Fear of reprisals did not stop Dorian Johnson, who was with Michael Brown, from talking to a reporter from MSNBC:
“I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” said Dorian Johnson, 22. “Then I saw the fire come out of the barrel.”
Mr. Johnson claims he and Michael Brown were walking to Brown’s mother’s home when the still unidentified officer told both young men to “…get on fu**ing curb before grabbing Brown around the neck from his cruiser.
“I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close,” said Johnson, who said he was within arm’s reach of both Brown and the officer when the first of several shots was fired at the teen. .
Since President Obama expressed condolences to the Brown family and asked for restraint, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have called on the Justice Department to not only investigate this most recent killing of an unarmed child but to ferret out “any pattern or practice of police misconduct by the Ferguson Police Department” as well.
As an all-white police brigade dressed in riot gear terrorizes an all-black neighborhood with tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrest, the country holds its breath until there is a lull in the hunting season of young, black males ostensibly considered guilty until proven otherwise or dead.