Michael Brown, Ferguson and the Nature of Unrest


Garrett Duncan,  Associate Professor of Education and African & African-American Studies in Arts & Sciences

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time … I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

Statement by US president Barack Obama on the passing of Michael Brown, August 12, 2014.

Many Americans share president Barack Obama’s sentiment regarding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. This is clearly indicated in the deeply felt hurt experienced by so many and the massive swell of moral support people of all backgrounds offered to the young man’s parents in recent days.

But to suggest that all, or even most, Americans feel the same would be severely misleading. Some citizens, drawing on media-fed imagery and timeworn stereotypes of young black men, have gone so far as to suggest that the unarmed teenager’s tragic death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer was self-inflicted, of his own doing, deserved and the result of his defiance of state authority.

Read full article on The Conversation


  1. Garrett, Michael Brown’s death wasn’t “deserved” or “self-inflicted,” but it may have been “justified.” The criteria for the use of force wasn’t established by the police, but by the U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner. Unfortunately in the absence of fact, people argue agendas, and in this case we simply don’t have the facts. Either Officer Wilson needs to be prosecuted, or he needs to be honored for trying his best to protect the community he is sworn to serve. We simply don’t know which it is yet. Let’s have a larger discussion about race and equality, but let’s leave Officer Wilson and Michael Brown out of the debate. In the end, it probably had little if anything to do with race.

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