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CHOOSING SIDES IN FERGUSON
Author: Gregory Clay
Photo By: Atlanta Daily World

Choosing Sides

The year was 2007, a few days after former Washington Redskins defensive back Sean Taylor was murdered on Nov. 27.

I hopped into a cab at 14th and F streets, downtown Washington D.C. The cab driver originally was from Reidsville, N.C.

We were discussing the hottest topic in the nation's capital at that time --- the killing of Taylor by four black teenagers.

That's when the cab driver dopped the bombshell.

He told me, "I don't pick up any black male I think is 30 years old or under."

It was such a stunning development; I thought he was joking.

So I asked him, "Are you serious or are you jiving me, man?"

The driver said he was serious ---- unabashedly so.

I asked him why did he have that hard and fast rule. The driver said because he had been robbed three or four times. Each time, he said, the robber had been a young, black guy.

And he said he hadn't been robbed since he instituted this set of New Rules.

So, I asked him, "No Hispanic or white guys?" The cab driver said no.

Now, is this a case of intra-racial racism or safety-conscious self-preservation?

This is an American-born black guy implementing a personal mandate. He wasn't African-born black or Middle Eastern, the other main demographics for Washington cab drivers. Should that cab driver from North Carolina be ostracized? In his mind, he's trying to stay alive.

Supporters of Darren Wilson say that's what the embattled police officer was trying to do on Aug. 9 when he shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

During a recent rally in St. Louis, a woman speaking on behalf of Wilson, said, "At the end of this statement the media will inevitably ask for my name. You want my name --- my name is Darren Wilson, we are Darren Wilson.”

The St. Louis crowd roared with approval.

The woman, shown on CNN wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap and eye black a la football players, said the media have "shown a strong bias" against Wilson and his supporters. She also said, “Many of us have received death threats against ourselves and our families. Contrary to media suggestions, we are not affiliated with any hate groups.”

Then she continued: “We will not hide, we will no longer live in fear.”

Good for her because she's right in one respect: If the Michael Brown supporters get monstrous air time, then Darren Wilson's supporters deserve equal time in the cable TV news ratings battle.

If one side rushes to judgment, then why not the other. Let them all rush together --- or, in this case, separately.

The news media, especially cable news, have shown at least tacit support for the Michael Brown family and supporters. Very seldom do the national television media mention the awkward predicament of Darren Wilson. He can't leave his house. Constant death threats. The media don't appear to show any concern for Wilson's safety.

CNN's Don Lemon at the end of an interview with Michael Brown's parents told them to reach out to him if they ever needed anything. That's a bit personal for a television anchorman. Over the line personal. Did he do the same for Officer Wilson?

What about fair and balanced.

I couldn't believe CNN didn't reprimand Lemon.

In the Ferguson case, people haven't seen any of the pertinent evidence but have taken sides. With that, it's not about the legal process anymore, it's about a tug of war.

So much of this case reminds me of the O.J. Simpson saga 20 years ago --- only the principal players here acted in reverse, as in white on black instead of black on white. Remember that phrase: "Rush to judgment." It's appropos here.

Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black guy, is relegated to being a mere pawn in this segregationist drama featuring two distinct narratives:

--Black folk so badly wish Brown were killed by Darren Wilson in cold blood, just to save face and see a white police officer padlocked in the guillotine,

--White folk so badly want the evidence to justify Wilson's shooting of Brown, to vindicate Wilson in taking out the latest perceived unruly black teenager. And, of course, to save face.

Neither side wants to budge from its etched-in-Moses-tablet stance. No do-overs here on an indelible slate, regardless of the evidence.

Whose side are you on?

Brown's supporters say they want justice for the family. The $64,000 Question: What exactly is justice in this case?

Is it an indictment, and thus a prison term for Darren Wilson?

But . . .

. . .Suppose Wilson is innocent.

In that case, be careful whom you lionize, canonize and nominate for martydom. Again, what is justice? Be careful what you ask for --- for it may not be YOUR definitive form of justice.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he stood with the people of Ferguson. So does that mean he's against the police officer?

President Barack Obama, in his usual uneasy space on the sidelines, spoke publicly only to appease black folk, just as he did in the Trayvon Martin case in 2013.

Why all interested parties can't just wait to see the evidentiary presentations is a sad testament to our society of instant gratification.

We don't have Michael Brown's toxicology report.

Are Brown's fingerprints and DNA on officer Wilson's police gun?

What about Brown's clothing? Is their gunpowder residue?

We haven't seen any forensic evidence.

And the ballistics tests?

We don't know.

What we do know is that the black folk who looted and rioted succeeded in putting many black-owned businesses in Ferguson out of business. Young, black males who looted think they harmed white folk, only to find out it's the black storekeepers who suffer in the long run.

These are the same looters who don't give a damn about Michael Brown. They just want a gift grab, a smash and grab and a run and grab.

That's why you see pithy comments posted on message boards such as this one below: "I know nothing about this Brown kid . . . what I DO know is that if you rush towards an armed officer, something bad's gonna happen. Behave responsibly = live to see another day."

Now you know what that cab driver mentioned earlier was driving at.


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