[OP-ED] “Know Your Rights”-The Clash

Jams, OP-ED


“You have the right not be killed. . .Murder is a CRIME. . .unless it was done by a policeman. . .”



I went to the Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake “Legends of the Summer” tour show a year or two ago when they came to Soldier Field in Chicago, IL.

Near the end of the show, Jay-Z dedicated the song “Young Forever” to Trayvon Martin. I remarked to my friend Nick I thought it was interesting that Jay would make part of the show political. Nick replied, more eloquently than I’m relating here, that dedicating the song wasn’t political.

Jay-Z wasn’t saying George Zimmerman was guilty, Zimmerman wasn’t mentioned at all. All Jay-Z said was that Martin’s death was a tragedy. And regardless of whether you believe his untimely death was racially motivated or not, or whatever your stance on the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law is, I believe that point is unarguable.

Trayvon Martin’s death, as is the death of any human being, is a tragedy.


Now the debate on TV and online centers around Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson August 9, 2014.

Regardless of the what you believe the situation of that afternoon in August was, Michael Brown should not have died. His death is a tragedy. An avoidable, unnecessary killing.

Of course I believe that police have a right to defend themselves. But I can’t think of any situation where due process of law should be put in the hands of one man. Don’t get out of the car in the first place. Or taser. Shoot to injure, not to kill. If shooting to kill is the protocol, the protocol is wrong.

The Colorado Theater shooter, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 other. And he was taken alive. He had a trial.    

Our justice system has it’s flaws. Innocent people go to jail and the guilty go free. But they always have tomorrow. Another appeal. Another chance. Michael Brown will never have a trial, either as a plaintiff or defendant.

Regardless of what facts come to light, he will still be dead.

So whatever you think of the event, the aftermath, the media coverage, we can all come together in agreement: this young man should not have died.

Everything else can be studied and debated, police militarization, police accountability, racial profiling, etc.

But I believe it is important to bear in mind that all of those arguments are secondary. Secondary to the life of a young man that is not around to take part in the debate.

Michael Brown will now always be the 18-year-old who was killed. Another name added to the list of the “Forever Young.”



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