The controversy surrounding teenager Michael Brown's death came to Washington, DC, on Wednesday when the local restaurant Busboys and Poets held a town hall entitled, "Ferguson and Beyond – The Way Forward: A Town Hall Meeting on Police Killings of Black Men" at its K street location. The event was a part of the ACTOR (A Continuing Talk on Race) series. Based on the restaurant's Twitter feed, however, the event seemed to be less about an "honest conversation on race," and more about demonizing police.
Throughout the night, participants tweeted the hashtag #policebrutality (pretty objective, huh?) Among the event panelists were figures such as social activist Dick Gregory, Dr. Ron Daniels, Hillary Shelton of the NAACP and actor Danny Glover, who participated via Skype.Here were just a few of their racially tinged comments:
While the tensions in Ferguson, Missouri have finally appeared to simmer, racial conversations like these have continued to escalate.
The autopsy report on Brown’s death, which showed he was shot six times, is certainly a cause for concern and should be questioned. Did police really need six bullets to restrain Brown? But, recent revelations that Brown had repeatedly assaulted Officer Darren Wilson before shots were fired suggest that the confrontation was more complicated than some may think. And, the incident does not justify the rioting and looting that occurred as a result.
Perhaps a more objective town hall would have included a discussion of Dr. Ben Carson’s piece, “A Problem Bigger Than Ferguson,” in which he implores people to consider facts rather than emotions:
Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.
Carson also had a thoughtful debate with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Ferguson on the most recent edition of “Fox News Sunday.”
Next time, I hope these town hall organizers will consider inviting someone with a different point of view - one that isn't accompanied with a biased hashtag.