Justice

Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson In Talks to Resign As Grand Jury Nears Decision

November 21st 2014

By:
Danielle Belton

UPDATE (FRIDAY, 10:30AM ET): Numerous media outlets are reporting that Officer Darren Wilson (who shot Michael Brown) is negotiating a possible resignation from the Ferguson Police Department. While many speculated that a resignation would be seen as an admission of wrongdoing and affect the grand jury's decision, the report claims that Wilson is doing this in order to ease pressure on fellow officers. Wilson has been out of the public eye for almost the entirety of time since the shooting in August.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in Ferguson ahead of the grand jury decision to indict (or not indict) Wilson, who shot Michael Brown over 100 days ago. In his statement, Nixon stated the "possibility of expanded unrest." 

The parents of Brown, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and a wary public are all preparing for their own “worst expectations” ahead of the ruling. The decision is expected to happen any day now in regards to the case that has been fraught with tension from Day One. 

The parents of Brown are praying for an indictment, if only to restore their faith in the system. Brown’s mother told USA Today an indictment “would mean that (police) did do their investigation fairly and it was unbiased.” A concern is there’s been much talk about the district attorney and his historic unwillingness to bring charges against police. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said “violence will not be tolerated,” making it clear what his worst expectation is to come out of the verdict – that there will be no indictment, leading to civil unrest. The police have followed that worst case scenario, stocking up on riot gear with 1,000 law enforcement, trained and mobilized, ahead of the ruling. And, frighteningly, if that’s not enough, some local gun stores have experienced a 300 percent increase in sales, as nervous residents arm themselves for the worst, whether they live in Ferguson or not.

Attorney for the Brown family, Benjamin Crump, told CBS "Regardless of the decision of the grand jury, this will be a defining moment in the history of the state of Missouri.”

Defining indeed.

A native of St. Louis (I grew up near Ferguson in neighboring Florissant, MO), I’m also expecting the worst, namely that there will be no indictment as there is rarely punishment for officer-involved shootings in St. Louis city or county – national attention or not. As for the fears of looting and rioting, there will always be a few outliers who will want to capitalize on someone else’s pain to make financial gain, but I’m not really concerned with that as much as the heartbreak many young St. Louisans will feel--those who’ve been out protesting night after night, who have mobilized and organized, who were registering voters and will get hit with the same reality that made me long for the day I could grow up and move away from my hometown: The reality that St. Louis has serious race relation issues. 

I admire those who stayed behind to tough it out instead of letting the bitterness get to them. Those individuals are the real heroes in this. The men and women, young and old, who stay in a fight that is bigger than Wilson or Brown, but is the fight for our very nation’s soul. 

Racism is a cancer and it’s been part of our society for so long we, in some respects, have grown used to it. Its everyday indignities and shame still exist though, whether you choose to see them or not. The resume that goes in the garbage because you have a “black sounding” name. The kids you grew up playing with who grew up to shun you once you turned 13 and didn’t want to be seen with “the black kid.” Police who accuse you of loitering for sitting on a park bench. A teacher whose expectations of you are less, even if you’re an A student, because he doesn’t see the “A,” he just sees a black girl. Being called the N-word while walking down the street doing nothing by some kids who thought it was “funny” to shout it out. Those little things add up, along with the big things like implicit bias, systemic poverty, job and wage discrimination, the prison industrial complex, redlining, voter suppression, police brutality and others. 

When a community erupts in unrest over the shooting of an 18-year-old, it’s more than just about that 18 year old. It’s about everything. Because all those things listed above lead to an environment where an unarmed 18 year old dying at the hands of police is acceptable. Where it’s OK to view African Americans with violence and suspicion. That’s the cancer of racism. The small bits of it hide throughout the body, then spread and grow, adding up to something that seems insurmountable. 

Soon a grand jury will decide if Darren Wilson should be tried for killing Michael Brown. The decision on how to end the system that created this crime in the first place remains unknown. But the only way a positive outcome can be reached is through the protestors in Ferguson and their supporters. Their energy must remain stronger than the bitterness that once caused me to leave my city. Through action, dialogue, working with the law and via community organizing, a better future can be forged.