THE BLOG

Will the Missouri Riots Make a Difference?

25/08/2014 14:57 BST | Updated 22/10/2014 10:59 BST

Just last week I was wittering on about the youth of today; how the majority of young adults contribute positively to society, how this majority are turned into the minority by the media and are rarely attributed. Instead, the youth are portrayed as problematic, violent or troubled.

In my blog post I was, by and large, referring to the UK. I was aware other countries would likely be contributing in the same way and re-enhancing this stereotype but as having only been a young adult in the UK, I felt it inappropriate to comment on others.

However, the recent shooting and subsequent killing of the American teenager has inevitably led me to pass judgement on a society I initially avoided. It would appear the representation of the young adult has been morphed into an extreme image transatlantic. An image supposedly so threatening it can justify a killing.

Michael Brown, an African American 18 year old was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The police officer was eventually named as Darren Wilson but reasons for the multiple shooting have yet to be provided. The death of the teenager has, unsurprisingly, sparked outrage that has led to peaceful protests and angry riots in Ferguson.

Just cast your minds back to August 2011. The shooting and death of Mark Duggan by police became a catalyst for the worst riots Britain had witnessed in decades. In January of this year, the killing of Mr Duggan was deemed as lawful. Although the circumstances around both shootings are different there are clear parallels. Simply put; an action equals a reaction of various proportions.

In August 2011, it was mainly the youth on the streets (a fact the media highlighted heavily). Whilst I am not condoning the damage and looting that occurred, I believe the anger of the protestors could truly be felt. The same can be said for those in Ferguson. The media have once again been quick to note the presence of the young black community participating in the riots. Images of rocks and firebombs being thrown at militarised police have been splashed across the newspapers. The police have responded brutally; arresting many, including a 90-year-old woman, firing shots in the crowds, which have hurt several, and throwing tear gas. The protests have also been conducted peacefully, with many youths involved. Low and behold this footage is virtually non-existent.

In both cases, the extent of the riots highlights the injustice felt by the community, specifically the youth, towards those in authority. Of course, this shooting of Michael Brown raises many concerns far beyond the image of a young adult. It highlights the great racial crack in American society that has yet to be sealed completely.

For too long, African Americans, Black and Asian Britons have felt targeted. Ask the young British black population here in the UK and they will often speak of the 'stop and search' law. They feel continuously targeted and victimised. In the USA, great steps towards racial equality have been made over the decades. In spite of this, time and time again we hear of fatal shootings between the white and the black populations. Too often it is the white officer shooting at the black civilian 'in self-defence'.

Remember George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin? Martin, a black 17 year-old high school student was shot and killed by Zimmerman, a white neighbourhood watch captain. In 2013, Zimmerman was found not guilty of the murder of the teenager. Sadly, I could list name after name of similar encounters and other injustices found across America. Not every death sparks riots but it would seem that every so often one death, after the build up of a few, sparks national outcry.

How many deaths will it take for something to be done? For things to change? For gun-laws to be adapted? For racial hatred to end?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I strongly feel it is us, the young adults, who can really drive change. Not through violent riots but through peaceful protests like those conducted in Ferguson. We have to make our voices heard.

Let us hope and pray that this time the voices from Missouri will make a difference.