It’s been six years since the slaying of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer in question, Darren Wilson, was not charged after previously getting through the grand jury and a federal investigation.
The prosecutor, Wesley Bell, announced on July 30 that Brown would not be charged, saying “the answer to that is no” when explaining how there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had occurred. The fatal 2014 shooting was determined to not include any murder or manslaughter following Wilson’s name being cleared. The review of the case came as a surprise to many, especially amid the ongoing social unrest the country is seeing following the death of George Floyd. The review was kept secret so that it wouldn’t jeopardize or create a media circus. Explaining his decision, Bell said that the new investigation dug into thousands of documents, forensic reports and witness statements but could not prove that a crime was committed on that night.
Brown, who was shot on Aug. 9, 2014, was 18-years-old when he was killed. Wilson, a 28-year-old at the time and a white officer, was later revealed as the one who was on the scene. The event that unfolded that evening in Missouri and the following days incited civil unrest in Ferguson, leading to riots and protests that gained national coverage as the Black Live Matter movement began to take shape, eventually coming to the forefront six years later in 2020. This incident also led to the phrase, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” that became a rallying cry in the movement.
All of this comes as the country faces another situation of police brutality in the wake of Floyd’s death and the unresolved murder of Breonna Taylor at the hands of Louisville police officers. In Floyd’s case, a viral video surfaced of an officer, Derek Chauvin, holding his knee on the neck of Floyd for nearly eight minutes as he pled to the cop that he could not breathe. Chauvin, and the other cops who were with him, have since been charged with Chauvin being arrested for the murder of Floyd. The ensuing events saw protests, many of which peaceful though some turning violent, stretch from coast-to-coast with many celebrities engaging in the movement. Throughout the restart of professional sports, many athletes have also utilized their platforms to enhance the goal of the movement further and to keep the conversation moving forward.