Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson

The grand jury charged with reviewing the actions of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO has declined to indict Wilson with a crime.  The resulting protests are beginning to subside though the strong feelings on both sides of the case remain.  Ferguson is not the only community to see protests as a result of this decision.  Here in Atlanta there have been protests as well.  This story will continue to develop in the coming weeks and months as the evidence, not publicly available is reviewed.

The Evidence – The prosecutor in this case has made nearly all of the evidence available to the public (CNN has done us the service of posting links).  Initial reviews have focused on witness testimony that often contradicted itself or the physical evidence or was provably wrong based on the forensic evidence.  Brown was not shot in the back or in the back of the head as some witnesses alleged though some persist in their insistence of putting forward a version of events that simply could not have happened.  While the public review of the evidence will continue, it is important to remember that twelve members of the Ferguson community reviewed all of the evidence and heard all of the testimony before reaching their decision. 

The Response – Unless you have been completely unplugged from any and all media, you are aware that protests began almost immediately after the decision of the grand jury was made known to the public.  There is a tremendous difference between protesting and rioting.  Whether justice was served in Ferguson will continue to be passionately debated for years and the position one takes largely depends on the worldview one holds.  What is not open to debate is that violence is never the answer.  The destruction of property that has been front and center in the media recently only undermines the legitimate concerns of the community.

The Family – Neither the decision nor the response changes the fact that Brown’s family is mourning his loss and do not feel that justice has been served.  They see a police officer that went too far, a judicial system that failed them, and the continuation of systemic racism.  Regardless of the view one holds of this particular situation, the underlying tension is real. Failure to acknowledge this either willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

The Reason – So much pain, so many people expressing their outrage at the decision, so many inappropriate responses, so little reaching out to one another.  At the heart of this controversy is sin, plain and simple.  Man continues to rebel against God, trusting in himself, and getting the same results we have always gotten. (Jeremiah 17:5; Romans 1:19-32).  The behavior is not surprising.  The tragic outcome should be expected. 

The Solution – Professional football player Benjamin Watson has articulated the solution and I am hopeful his willingness to use his influence will be joined by others to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The solution to the problem of sin and hatred and animosity towards one another is salvation found only in Christ.  The way we relate to one another will not improve without the transformation of hearts and minds and that is only truly possible when we are one in Christ.  I am hopeful that Watson’s voice will be joined by others who understand this and are not afraid to share the good news.

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