RESIDENTS of Ferguson, located close to downtown St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States have been protesting against the police for shooting and killing a black teenager, Michael Brown. The incident occurred on Saturday, August 9, while the teenager was walking to his grandmother's house in the predominantly black neighbourhood. He had just graduated high school and hoped to begin college in the fall. Eyewitnesses say he was unarmed and had his hands in the air when he was shot by police.
Hundreds of angry residents gathered in front of the police building soon after the incident. The protests gradually became violent and continued for several days. Many black protesters were carrying placards with the slogans like “Don't shoot me” and “No justice, no peace.”President Barack Obama called for calm. Police shot tear gas and smoke canisters at protesters. Two people were shot and at least 47 arrested. President Obama dispatched his non-white Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson on Wednesday to reassure the people about the investigation into Michael Brown's death. Holder said he understands why many black Americans do not trust police. He recalled how he was repeatedly stopped by officers who seemed to target him because of his race. He also met with federal officials investigating Michael Brown's death and with Brown's parents. After five nights of protests, the crowds dwindled and became more peaceful on assurances that justice would be done.
In another incident on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed-race Hispanic and a neighbourhood watch coordinator. On July 13, 2013, a jury, consisting of five white women and one Hispanic, acquitted him of all the charges. President Obama commented on the trial in a somber mood. He said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago… If a white male teen would have been involved in this scenario, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
Shooting of African-Americans by the predominantly white dominated police in the States is very common. Justice became a mockery in the case of Trayvon Martin. Will Michael Brown get justice? That's the question being asked by thousands of protesters in Ferguson and their sympathizers all over the States.
President Barack Obama's frequent sermons to the outside world on human rights will sound hollow if justice is not dispensed to his own kith and kin who often become victims to racial discrimination which was abolished by the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the US constitution.
The writer is a former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission