Like any good manager, trained to manage human resources for the good of the company, Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor in the case of Missouri vs. Darren Wilson, stepped forward at close of business on November 24, 2014 to issue pink slips to people who, despite all the negative forecasts, had gathered on that cold November night hoping that the work of meting out justice to Darren Wilson for taking the life of an unarmed young man in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014 would begin in earnest. I was taken aback by McCulloch’s well rehearsed speech which set forth the premise that Darren Wilson acted properly, as an agent of the State, when he executed #MichaelBrown, thus denying Brown due process under the law. McCulloch announced that Darren Wilson would not stand trial by a jury of his peers. Instead, the people were given pink slips at the end of the day.
Bob McCulloch did the job he was created to do. As a show of support for McCulloch’s good work, Governor Nixon met with faith leaders and community leaders and declared a state of emergency well ahead of McCulloch’s presentation. There were pleas from different factions of the company, urging the people to peacefully resign themselves to the way things are and to disperse quietly with their pink slips. The Chairman of the Board, who is generally focused on the big picture and moving the company forward, stepped up after McCulloch issued the pink slips to remind us that ours is a Nation of laws. And I was taken back in time.
I was taken back in time to the murders of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, John Crawford and Tamir Rice. I was taken back to August 9, 2014 when #MichaelBrown lay dead in the street for over four hours after being denied equal protection under the law by Darren Wilson. I was taken back in time to August when peaceful protestors were met with tear gas and armoured tanks in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
I was taken back to a time in our great country when the law of the land was “separate but equal.” I was taken back to a time when a 14 year old black boy was murdered because a white woman claimed he looked at her. I was taken back to a time when a black woman was arrested for sitting in the wrong seat on a public bus. I was taken back to a time when young black college students were arrested for sitting down to eat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter. I was taken back to a time when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered for registering black voters. I was taken back to a time when police with dogs and hoses were let loose on people who marched in protest of unjust laws.
I was taken back to Dr. King, sitting in a Birmingham jail, writing a letter to white clergymen asserting that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I was taken back to the murders of Medgar Evers, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and Robert Kennedy — a time that left us floundering, wondering if we would ever reach the mountaintop that Dr. king talked about. I was taken back to a time when cities burned. And people prayed. And people cursed. And people marched. And people sang. And people cried. And people went to jail. And people died. And people despaired. Then, people picked themselves up, went to the polls and voted.