BOSTON (CBS) – By now you’ve surely heard that the grand jury in St. Louis hearing evidence in the fatal shooting of a black Ferguson teenager by a white police officer may at any minute announce their decision on whether or not to indict the cop.
And you’ve probably also heard about the preparations police are making around the country for possible street violence if they choose not to indict, or impose a lesser charge.
There is no reasonable complaint against police for getting ready for anything. That’s their job.
It’s when they don’t prepare for the worst that the worst tends to happen.
But I do think African-Americans and others of goodwill do have a complaint about the notion that black community reaction to an unpopular verdict in this case would somehow inevitably involve violence.
Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans appears sensitive to this unfair perception. His statement on Ferguson reaction was directed to “students” asking that if they decide to protest, they “do so in a way that would make your school, your family, and your city proud.”
No mention of race in there, nor should there be.
After a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case last year, on a Saturday night, no less, almost none of the anticipated violence happened.
The president of the NAACP compared the calm there to the riots after the Rodney King verdict in 1992: “I think we should, right now, be celebrating the fact that we’ve seen a generation of young people respond by using our system; raising their voices, yes, but not using their fists.”
A new generation and a more responsive system. They deserve credit, not outdated stereotyping. A peaceful reaction to the Ferguson verdict will prove that point yet again.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
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