Opinion & Advice

A makeshift memorial is pictured near where teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri. (Mario Anzuoni, Reuters)

A makeshift memorial is pictured near where teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri. (Mario Anzuoni, Reuters)

By Khushi Suri

Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy

“This should not be his legacy,” stated Lesley McSpadden when discussing the response of the Ferguson community to the death of her son Michael Brown.

Many of us are familiar with Michael Brown’s story. He was a bright young eighteen year old, only two days away from starting college when he was allegedly gunned down by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. His death sparked a series of protests, vigils, and movements in his community and around the world.

 But now, whenever people talk about “Ferguson” or even “Michael Brown,” they aren’t talking about the shooting anymore. Instead, they’re discussing the police response to the protests, and how those protests are similar to the ones that happened a few decades ago. It’s common to see side-by-side photos of civil rights protests next to scenes from Ferguson posted on social media.

Is what McSpadden feared happening? Is this violence and turmoil becoming Michael Brown’s legacy? 

Being a year younger than Michael, I think of the events in Ferguson differently. For me, the awful and tragic incident as well as the protests, are sparks that started a larger fire. A fire that has spread through social media to reach countless cities, states, and even countries all over the world.

It’s important for us all to remember that this incident, unfortunately, is nowhere near “unique.” There are several news articles released every month telling us all that sadly, yet again, another person was victim to unnecessary police brutality—or as the NYPD calls it in their incident reports, a case of “mistaken identity.”

What worries me is that from a young age, being an immigrant from a country where certain cities are known for unreliable police forces, I have been told that the police in America are different. I’ve been told to smile at officers and wave, and never hesitate to ask for their assistance even if I feel like I’m even slightly threatened. My question is: If the police themselves are causing the trouble in certain areas, who can we possibly turn to? Who can save us then?

While the circumstances of the Michael Brown case are heartbreaking, it’s important for us to know that this case is a tipping point. This tragedy has rallied people together to fight against injustices such as these from happening again, and the change that will be made from this, in my eyes, will contribute to Michael Brown’s legacy. 

Although I might view Michael Brown’s “legacy” from a different angle, the stark truth is that if young Michael hadn’t been shot on that sunny Sunday afternoon, he would have had the opportunity to carve out his own legacy.

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