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August 12, 2014

First peace, then justice

Our community is in the midst of a wrenching examination of an unarmed Ferguson, Mo., teen's death at the hands of a police officer. The conflicts in the story are troubling, and the involvement of a disinterested third party, in the form of the FBI, is a positive step.

We're not sure what justice will look like for Michael Brown's family. The 18-year-old is gone, and they face a lifetime of grief.

But we do hear their core message, and the Rev. Al Sharpton's, and it echoes our belief: Violence is a distraction. Michael Brown would not have used social injustice as an excuse to loot a Shoe Carnival. He would not have shot at a police helicopter. He would not have burned down a neighborhood gas station.

The violence is absorbing everyone's attention at the exact moment when Michael Brown's death and an examination of police interactions with young men should be everyone's focus. We doubt the looters are radicals trying to use terror to make a point: they are more likely thugs seeking cover for bad behavior.

The violence will not bridge racial divides, it will create distrust and move people farther apart and possibly out of a mixed community.

If you want justice for Michael Brown, it must begin with peace.

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