If you want to see a clear picture of the divisions between cultures in America, take a look at what happened in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson.

President Obama’s Justice Department, investigated the matter. They came up with two reports. The first cleared the police officer Darren Wilson from prosecution. A direct quote from the Department of Justice’s investigation, dated March 4, 2015: “Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.” So, in this case at least, there was no Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. If you think that I am taking that quote out of context, I invite you to read the entire 86 page report. You can find it online.

HOWEVER, there was another report by the Justice Department concerning the systematic activity of the Ferguson Police Department and the City of Ferguson concerning its African-American citizens. This report, also released on March 4, 2015, showed system wide patterns that exploited its AfricanAmerican citizens. You can read this entire 102 page report online as well. Ferguson was doing some really shady things. For example, quoting directly from the report: “African Americans are more likely to receive multiple citations during a single incident, receiving four or more citations on 73 occasions between October 2012 and July 2014, whereas non-African Americans received four or more citations only twice during that period.” The Ferguson Municipal Court used arrest warrants primarily as a means of securing payments from its African-American citizens. The police became a de facto collection agency for the city. Ferguson’s Police Department also lacked diversity. Although they were twothirds of the residents, there were only 4 African-American officers on a force of 54.  (Needless to say, but I will say it, we need more African-American police officers.) The DOJ found multiple horrible emails from Ferguson city officials that were blatantly racist. It takes a lot to shock me, but I was shocked by how brazen and shameless they were. (Everybody! This is something we can fix today. Stop this nonsense, NOW! It is sinful, totally opposed to the gospel of Christ.) And the list goes on and
on. The bottom line was that unlawful police and court practices in Ferguson created deep resentment among their African-American citizens. Just a brief scanning of this report will give you a quick and powerful understanding of the anger and rage the African American community is feeling right now.

One group, naturally, focused on the first report. “See, we told you so!” The other focused on the second. “See, we told you so!” So what can be done? Well, for starters, whatever side of this divide you fall on, read the other report. (Both reports are easily found on the internet and if you want, you can read both of them.) So much stuff on social media has created a sharp divide in our community. We
need to do something different. My suggestion: TRY TO UNDERSTAND the other side. The Ferguson reports might be a place to start.

Another quote from the second report: It became clear during our many conversations with Ferguson residents from throughout the City that many residents, black and white, genuinely embrace Ferguson’s diversity and want to reemerge from the events of recent months a truly inclusive, united community.

Amen. Pray for both Justice and Peace.

Father Kevin

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