The eyes of the world have been on Ferguson, Missouri, since August of this year, when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Although I’m glad to see The Bellingham Herald reporting on the subject, I believe too much of the coverage frames those protesting Brown’s untimely death as the problem, when I believe we should be hailing these women and men as heroes.
I believe police brutality and the militarization of police forces are pressing problems across this country. Twelve-year-old Tamar Rice was killed on a playground by police in Cleveland just this past week. His name joins Michael Brown and many others, familiar and unfamiliar, from Amadou Diallo to Aiyana Jones, who have lost their lives to police violence. At the same time, police forces are receiving more and more potent weapons through military surplus programs, like the armored personnel carrier Whatcom County sheriffs received in October. It remains unclear how such equipment actually makes communities safer, but such a question does not seem to interest some media outlets, who take police forces’ PR statements at face value.
Underlying all of this is this country’s long history of anti-black racism. Sadly, it would seem that many people are unwilling to heed the lessons of abolitionist, anti-Jim Crow, and civil rights movements that have made clear again and again that black lives matter and should not be cut short.