Racing against the Race in the US
Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
ByÂ Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada Follow @DrMunishRaizada The much awaited verdict of the Ferguson shootout where an unarmed African American youth was shot dead by a white Police Officer finally arrived on 24th November. The grand jury of 12 judges decided against indicting Darren Wilson, the police officer involved in the shooting. The large gathering of African American people assembled at multiple places throughout the country, including outside the White House, was visibly disappointed at the verdict and did not hold back from expressing their resentment by resorting to burning police vehicles and attacking Ferguson police headquarters with stones, bricks, batteries and virtually anything they got hold of. Despite the Brown familyâ€™s call for peaceful demonstrations and President Obamaâ€™s official statement, urging the protestors to shun violence, the situation is going from bad to worse in Ferguson, a northern suburb of St. Louis. With two-thirds of the 21,000 local population in Ferguson being African American, a sharp reaction after the verdict was always on the cards. One of the major reasons of peopleâ€™s disappointment was that the jury decided against indicting Wilson even for lesser charges of manslaughter. According to the jury, "no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson.â€ť As the events are unfolding, it is becoming apparent that this assassination is not a racial issue, but the spreading riots throughout the country are taking up the color of racial riots.Â The fateful incidence took place on 9th of August in the St. Louis county of Missouri state. Multiple versions about the exact chain of events have been thrown out in the public space, which have added to the rising anger among the supporters of the Brown family. According to the juryâ€™s verdict, Brown stole some cigars from a convenient store minutes before the shooting. However, in his statements, Officer Wilson has repeatedly denied knowing about this incident at the time of the shooting. According to him, Brown and his friend were walking in the middle of the road when he, sitting inside his patrol car, asked them to step aside to the sidewalk. Agitated, at this, Brown started hurling abuses at Wilson and punched him while he was still sitting inside the car. The scuffle resulted into a couple of gun shots from Wilsonâ€™s service gun, with one hitting Brown in the arm. Following this, Brown and his friend (Dorian Johnson), started running away from the patrol car. With the boys running in different directions, Wilson decided to chase down Brown. Now this is where the story picks up two different versions. According to Officer Wilson, Brown turned towards him, gave him an aggressive look and put his hand under his shirt as if he was trying to take out a weapon. It is then that Wilson was convinced that Brown would kill him, and in self defence, the Officer fired multiple shots at him. However, a number of passersby reportedly testified that Brown had his arms up in the air when he was shot by Wilson. Race relations have always been a sensitive issue in USA as is reservation in India. A report this year by the Emerson College Polling Society revealed that as many as 61% African Americans in the US believe that race relations in the country are going from bad to worse. Despite boasting of revolutionary leaders in the past such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., the African-American community in the USA is still far from achieving socio-economic equality. Racial discrimination and racial prejudices prevail. The spectacular elevation of Barack Obama as the first African American person to assume the Presidentâ€™s office was seen as a new chapter in the American history, one that is free of any racial prejudice. But almost 6 years down the line, the reality on the ground remains far different from what millions dreamt of. Racial divide in the country dates back to the colonial and the slave era. While a number of laws, movements and campaigns have come into the picture to uproot this menace, none of them have been able to tackle it completely.Â Incidents such as these would certainly fire up the already existing racial divide between the whites and the African Americans in the USA. With emotions running high during such incidents, adrenaline prevails over rule of law in most cases. The citizens of this great nation would do well to take leaf out of Abraham Lincolnâ€™s book against slavery and work towards creating an equal and just society. The author is a Chicago-based practicing physician (neonatologist) and a socio-political commentator.Â Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. 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