By: Ebony Munday – Columnist, Junior
The protests in Ferguson, Missouri reached a new level of outrage when Jeffrey Williams, a 20-year-old African -American man, was accused of shooting two officers from his vehicle March 12 during a protest outside of police headquarters. Tensions are rising and now the community trusts the police force even less.
Police believe that Williams’s motives were a result of the Ferguson grand jury decision relating to the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer. Williams, however, claims to have been coerced into saying he was aiming at another target due to a personal dispute and not the officers. He also states that he had been roughed up by officers upon his arrest.
There is growing conflict pertaining to the charges against Williams on whether this is another instance of police brutality against young black men. Ferguson has been the center of a national debate over race and policing ever since the August death of Michael Brown. These tensions have caused a fear in black communities, including those in Dayton.
It’s disturbing to note the weakened trust in our own government-enforced source of protection caused by race and discrimination.
The protests, which began in August, have lasted this long because people feel that their voices are not being heard. Not only are they protesting the wrongful death of an unarmed African-American citizen, they are also voicing their anger on how these senseless deaths are becoming a cycle of injustice.
Communities are suffering due to the fact that they no longer feel safe with a police force who is supposed to provide security for all individuals.
This makes me want to step outside of our University of Dayton bubble and think how students would react if the student neighborhood were like those in Ferguson. How many people would enjoy walking to the RecPlex with the fear of campus police stopping you because of your skin color? Racism is still around, and because of this, people fear becoming victims of social injustice.
No matter the outcome of the numerous charges against Williams that could result in a life sentence, I think black communities still will not be at ease because of the many recent injustices against black youth.
Previous cases that have made national news, such as the Zimmerman trial, contributed even more to the disruption of the peace in these affected black communities. The protests give a voice to the people and they also address the police force directly.
Now, the question is, what are the police going to do to eliminate this fear and ensure all citizens, especially those in black communities, feel that the police are dedicated to the protection of all? Something must be done to reconstruct how the black community perceives the police force. I know not everyone will agree that the police tend to target black youth, but I can only speak on the cases that I have seen where there is an untimely death of an unarmed black male. I don’t believe all police officers are wrongdoers, but I do believe that there has to be something done to restore the loss of faith in our justice system.