“I’m a 62-year-old black man. I lived through the assassination of Martin Luther King. I came of age during the Civil Rights Movement. I spent years in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era.
I’ve seen my fair share of generational events. Ferguson is a generational event and I understand the emotions around this decision.
In the Spring of 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King was assassinated, I found myself in a precarious situation, probably not unlike some young people experienced in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death. I was at the intersection of 44th and Montgall, going home from the Kitty Clover potato chip factory where I was working to earn money for the prom, when national guard troops lit up the dark night with spot lights and forced us on the ground and held us at gunpoint because we were out after curfew. Three of us were black and one white. Our skin color didn’t matter when our faces hit the pavement. It’s important to remember that regardless of color, we all feel pain.
Many people are in pain this evening because of this decision. I encourage our community to take to prayer, reflection, and even peaceful protest. Peaceful freedom of expression is a basic right afforded to each of us. There is no right to destroy property or hurt people, however.
Strong communities overcome adversity not by violence, but by upholding strong virtues. Rather than fighting with our fists, let’s fight to eliminate the conditions that led to this young man’s death.”