The OpEd Project

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(Getty Images)

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By Aaliyah Smith, Nicholas Senn
The OpEd Project

How many times will it take a young African-American dying at the hands of an authority figure before we realize that we have no control over it? Yes, we have rights, but who gave them to us? The same people who control those rights. The government, the police, the president—they are all part of the same system. And we can’t do anything about it.

Looking back on the case that rocked this country and sparked protests coast to coast, some say Michael Brown was just another black man who “did wrong” and deserved what he got. Still, there’s no blame for the man who knowingly fired at Brown 12 times.

Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old police officer who killed Brown, didn’t get the punishment some thought he should for taking a life. To make matters worse, there was no justice for Eric Garner, a father of six whose July death didn’t result in any charges against the New York Police Department.

None of it is fair.

Many people agree the failure to indict is wrong, while others argue that the system has done its job. People say, “It’s a matter of what you believe.”

But because Wilson had a badge, he had the authority to shoot a boy who had just robbed a convenience store. Because Garner resisted arrest, police used extreme force to subdue him.

Across the country, thousands of people have protested the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of mostly white police. They carry signs that say, “I can’t breathe,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

It’s sad to think that maybe one day it could be your son or brother making a stupid mistake and paying for it with his life. It’s only a matter of time before this happens again. And at this point, it’s not just about Brown anymore—it’s about every African-American who feels he or she isn’t treated fairly.

Aaliyah Smith is a freshman at Nicholas Senn High School. She’s a participant in The OpEd Project’s Youth Narrating Our World, a why news matter partner.

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