On August 9th 2014, an 18 year-old named Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson. Prior to the actual shooting, the two of them had a confrontation and not all the details have been made clear as of yet. Officer Wilson says that he fired his gun in self-defense, after Michael Brown Jr. attempted to take it from him.
Regardless, many people in Ferguson have taken to the streets in protest of what they believe to be an unjust police system. They say that Michael Brown Jr. put his hands up in surrender, before Officer Wilson shot him. These protests have often turned violent, involving vandalizing and the looting of businesses as soon as the following night.There have been dozens of arrests.
In addition to that, a twelve year old boy named Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio. In this case, according to an NBC television report, the police were responding to a 9-1-1 call. The caller reportedly said Tamir Rice had a gun and was pointing it. Here is the twist, the gun was a toy, but the other twist is that the orange marker, indicating that it was a toy, was removed. Between the two sites, Cleveland is the city with the calmer general reaction. Nevertheless, both of these shootings have sparked conversations about tensions created by race relations between the police and those who they serve, according to reports on Cleveland’s website.
There is a difference between the situations in the two cities; the grand jury of Ferguson, Missouri made the decision of whether or not to indict Officer Wilson. Their decision not to indict him has led to a new wave of both peaceful and violent protests across the nation. Regarding the shooting of Tamir Rice, Cleveland was quiet at first, according to their website reports. But it was the decision not to indict Officer Wilson that brought the people to the streets, with signs saying “‘From Michael Brown, to Tamir Rice, this must stop.’”
Another difference is in how the police of each city have handled the respective situations. According to Cleveland’s website the police actually escorted the protesters, clearing the streets ahead of them, as Police Chief Calvin Williams intends to “let the protests ‘play out.’”
This is in very sharp contrast to what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri. The Cleveland website said that a staff writer from the St. Louis River Front Times named Danny Wicentowski indicated a tense atmosphere from the beginning. Businesses were attacked the night after the shooting, and that prompted the police to turn to displays of force.
The Cleveland website said that according to Wicentowski the police in Ferguson determined who to arrest based on who was breaking the law, saying that doing so would not be tolerated. And, as a result of a night of absolute chaos on November 24th, 2014 (the day of the Grand Jury’s decision), Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has called in 2,200 members of the National Guard. The protests have since spread to the rest of the nation, and have mostly been peaceful but still disruptive.