As the situation in Ferguson continues to unfold, one aspect of the shooting should be examined profusely: the initial action of Officer Darren Wilson.
The only witness to the initial contact outside of Wilson is Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, so this is a bit of a he-said-he-said. But, as has been widely reported, according to Johnson the first words between both parties were Wilson’s and they allegedly were, “Get the f— on the sidewalk.” This may seem insignificant, but it most certainly is not.
We have to remember that police officers are supposed to be “peace” officers. In order to keep peace in every civil situation, a peace officer must deescalate the atmosphere, such as keeping angry combatants away from each other and calming them down to a level where talk can ensue. If Wilson did use those exact words when first contacting the two young men, he failed to do his job and actually escalated a calm situation. If anyone wants to dispute that, fine. Just show me where it says in any law enforcement training manual to start out every calm situation with a profanity while clearly disrespecting a person.
In fact, we could even say there is a bit of racism in Wilson’s profiling of the men, which is easy to prove. If the person walking in the street had been an old white woman, would Wilson have used the same words and tone in the initial contact? How about a white man in an expensive suit? In defense of Wilson, let’s have all the old white women and rich white men step forward and tell their stories of how Wilson cursed at them when fracturing an incredibly minor law that was hurting no one.
That would be the sound of crickets you are hearing right now.
Simply put, if Wilson would have treated a different person with some actual respect, then his words and initial action should be heavily questioned. I’m not saying Wilson stopped because he is racist. I’m just saying his attitude certainly suggests there was a tinge of it present.
And I know what the reaction to this will be: you are not a police officer so you don’t know what it is like dealing with people, particularly criminals, on a regular basis. Maybe so, but I do know a definitive way to make situations worse: treating people horribly from the first contact, which is what happened. And if a police officer has lost the ability to do this, maybe it’s time for another profession.
All said, it’s Wilson’s fault this situation delved into a dead body in the street. Despite the clear attempts at demonizing Michael Brown, Wilson failed to do his job appropriately and that is why we are where we are now. Wilson deserves to be put on trial, just like anyone else would be in a similar situation if they were not wearing a badge.