What did you expect?
by the Rev. Dr. Timothy James, administrative secretary of the National Convocation
The grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed the unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. This decision brought to mind the death of Trayvon Martin afresh. As an African American male living in times of systemic and blatant racism, expectations for justice and fairness under the law in our judicial system are too many times disappointed.
Honestly, the stage was set for this decision when the Governor Jay Nixon called a state of emergency and recruited the National Guard to protect the city. My expectations were dashed again when the television teleprompter read that the decision had been made by the grand jury at 11:30 am, and that a statement would come later. This meant much later, giving time for the police and the armed guards time to prepare for anticipated violent protest.
I was disappointed at the outbreak of violence and fires that resulted from the decision not to indict. When you think you have no voice, when there apparently is no respect for your life and bewilderment is the companion of your anger, there is very little recourse. I pray for and encourage peace and calm. I pray to God for grace and comfort for the family of Michael Brown and all mothers and families whose lives have been touched by similar acts resulting in unnecessary grief and sadness.
When facing life’s difficulties my motto has always been to expect the worse and hope for the best. We cannot lose our hope. I hope that peace will abide in the community of Ferguson, Missouri and other cities across the nation. I hope this incident will renew church and community leaders’ commitment to organize for change. I hope that there will be improvement in the relations between Black people and police officers everywhere, who are sworn to protect and to serve. I hope our young men and women will be inspired motivated to pursue education to learn about life, history and self-worth. I hope that the channels of communication will be open wider for honest conversation on the issues that brought this about in the first place. Even when we expect the worse, let’s hope for the best.