Throughout the past few months, rioters in Ferguson, Missouri acted out in frustration to the racism they felt was conducted as Michael Brown, an African American teen was fatally shot by a white police officer. It’s uncertain if the facts of this devastating story will ever be completely clear, but this has not stalled the outrage of many individuals due to the racial injustice they feel occurred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in response to the criticism demonstrated by several white clergymen. His letter outlines his feelings of the racial injustice that took place in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, similar to that which is being felt in Ferguson, Missouri.
King was a major proponent behind nonviolent protesting, but found a major flaw in the law and justice system. In his letter, he states “there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but also a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” MLK believes that it is the responsibly of citizens to defy laws that are prejudice and unfair. King believed the laws were inconsistent towards African Americans and therefore unjust.
Ferguson protestors have found a similar problem within the Michael Brown tragedy. Many believe that if the teenager was white, the police officer would had suspected nothing. In lecture this week, we discussed good laws versus bad laws and the importance of “rules of law.” A society accepts “rules of law” when they are consistent and predictable. Laws cannot be arbitrary. Citizens should never have to be concerned about their safety against the police when they are innocent. Many people believe that Michael Brown was unarmed, walking with his hood up.
Clearly, there is nothing illegal about this. Police officers and law officials must be completely unbiased. Consistency within the law is critical, as is knowing that nobody will bend the laws based on race, or any other individual qualities. Too often, black people are suspected to be guilty of crime over white people. It’s horrible that our society is still at this point even after the Civil Rights Movement. This is simply racist.
“Sameness made legal.” This is what MLK stated in his open letter. This means that a law must apply to everyone for it to be just and obeyed. Just as Martin Luther King Jr. said, Ferguson citizens disobeyed the law that they saw as unjust. Ferguson, Missouri erupted in violence and protest as they saw their fellow community-member die. According to one protester, people have tried peaceful protestation, filing lawsuits, and more, but they are still not receiving justice. Now, they act in frustration.
Justice must be taken into account for laws to work as they are meant to. The Michael Brown shooting was just another example of the injustice that is clearly still active in our society. Civil Rights figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked to stop racism, but I’m afraid that it is still a problem today.
The Ferguson tragedy is not the first incident like this. The citizens this time however, took matters into their own hands and went into the streets to make a difference. Violence is never the solution, but Ferguson rioters had enough of the injustice.
It was a big milestone for America in electing our first African American present in Obama. However, it is impossible to deny that prejudice behavior still exists today. Changes must be mad. The police are here to protect us, not evoke fear in us. America must work to create justice within ours laws. It’s unacceptable for questions of racism to be active in today’s world.