There has been unrest around the world over the lack of indictment against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Nov. 24 for the shooting of Mike Brown almost three months ago. Just a week later, on Dec. 3, there was also a lack of indictment for the police officer involved in Eric Garner’s death, leading to more protests and questions about the state of people of color in America and the meaning of justice, including in Oakland and San Francisco.
The Campanil acknowledges the wrongs in the lack of indictment for these police officers. We recognize a horrifying trend in a lack of indictment or even justice in cases like these. According to a 2010 report from the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, more than 8,300 accusations of police misconduct were filed, yet only 3,238 resulted in legal action and only 1,063 resulted in convictions.
In the lack of indictment for Darren Wilson, The Campanil sees not only an outrage and frustration, but also the fear and hurt for people of color, especially Black people in our society. There is a fear of police, people who are supposed “to serve and protect” its citizens. We recognize the United States’ lack of protecting people of color in its beginnings, as well as the struggles of obtaining some sort of equality and freedom in the past.
As stated in our first staff editorial this semester, The Campanil knows that we have a long way to go to make a difference in our community and society. However, there is a lingering question that must be asked: how much longer must all of this happen before even those in power will say enough is enough?
While we recognize the issues in our legal system, The Campanil also notices another problem in these incidents: the protests portrayed in the media. Major news stations, such as Fox News, CNN and CBS, paint the protests and those involved as “wild,” “violent” and “disruptive” to society.
For instance, in a Nov. 25 report of the Oakland protests on CBS San Francisco, the headline reads, “Ferguson Protests in Oakland Turn Ugly for a 2nd Time: Freeways Blocked, Looting, Fires.” We feel that these reports are not capturing all perspectives in their information and not treating those involved on the other side of police as human beings — two major components in the journalist’s code of ethics.
Those news reports contribute to the many people’s varying attitudes about these cases entirely. In fact, Ferguson prosecutor Bob McCulloch even blamed the media for “sensationalizing” Brown’s case, placing journalists and even social media in his line of fire. McCulloch and people with similar sentiments lose the true issue within their words: Mike Brown lost his life not through journalists, not through social media, but through the power of Darren Wilson and his gun on Aug. 9.
The Campanil recognizes and understands the reasons for these protests. People are outraged, hurt, frightened — the list is endless. These protests are happening because there is a recognition of the wrong in our legal system with police brutality. As journalists, we know the importance of honesty and fairness, especially in our reporting. Because of that, we cannot ignore the conversations of racism in the U.S., even at Mills College.