Screen shot from a New York Times article.
When I was 18, I was no angel. Hell, when I was 15, 16, 17, I was no angel. When I was 13, I stole change out of cars that were parked in the church lot for bingo night. By 14 I was smoking pot every day. I got caught shoplifting at Korvette’s and spent an hour being interrogated by security before they called my mother to pick me up. I cut holes in the pockets of my winter parka to make it easier to steal candy from 7-11. I sold joints to my fellow classmates at Holy Trinity High School. I had rough patches. I cut out of school to drink alcohol. I listened to angry and vulgar punk rock. I often got into fights with kids from the neighboring town.
So all those times when Officer Goldberg stopped me as I walking down the street and asked where I was going and what I was doing, he would be justified in shooting me because I was a troubled kid with a questionable past?
See, all those things were not relevant. Because Officer Goldberg didn’t know any of those things about me beforehand. And even if he did, they had no relevance on the fact that I happened to be walking down the street on any given evening.
Someone’s history does not always define their present. Being a “troubled” kid who once climbed over a baby gate or wrote on the walls in their house with pencils does not mean one deserves to die in a hail of bullets at the hand of a police officer. And it’s odious for anyone to imply as such, especially in a major newspaper on the day of the dead boy’s funeral.
The media suddenly seems to be in bed with the Ferguson police, posthumously trying Michael Brown for the crime of being young and black while walking in the street, bringing his past into the present. Calling him “no angel” has big implications, none of them good.
We’re all “no angels” in one way or another. No one is perfect. No one has a past clear of any transgressions, even the smallest ones. No one should have to carry the burden of their past with them when they’re doing nothing more dangerous than walking down a street. Because Darren Wilson knew nothing about Michael Brown when he confronted him. When he killed him.
And we shouldn’t be learning these things about him now, like this. It’s unfair.