thoughts on justice

Yesterday, a jury in LA found the cop who shot Oscar Grant on New Year’s Eve guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which means that he could be sentenced to something like 4 to 14 years in jail.  The cop is white and Oscar was black.  So the black people – all kinds of people – of Oakland are mad.  Indignant.  They cry.  They yell into microphones about justice.

And yesterday, after this verdict was read, they protested in downtown Oakland and then started breaking windows, and well, throwing shoes.

I get a little afraid when I think about this.  Just because I don’t think that cop should go to jail for life, does that mean I’m racist?  Really?  I don’t know what to say about myself if that’s true.

But it’s not as though a white cop saw a black kid and just shot him.  Oscar and his friends were fighting – or maybe just being unruly – on a BART train.  He wasn’t just minding his own business, making the world a better place.  It probably makes me sound like an 80 year lady, but he was being a hooligan.  And then when the police stepped in, he struggled and gave them trouble.

He didn’t deserve to die.  Absolutely not.  It’s tragic that it ended the way it did.

But he wasn’t an innocent.  And the cop wasn’t a monster.  There were a lot of people acting badly.  It was definitely a bad scene, and people were acting in a sense of fear.

Instead of protesting the bad things that happen when people feel fear, I wish that we protested the culture and society that creates that fear in the first place.  That they took guns from several young black men that night.  That the police can’t create order without having to intimidate because they’re not respected.

I feel sick to think of so much anger.  And I feel afraid when I think of myself as a person who doesn’t have compassion, who isn’t liberal.  So I wish that we could function without this anger and fear.  Wishing isn’t enough though, is it?

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