Making a peaceful society 101: Ferguson revisited

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

2014 August Monthly Round Up (updated 7:49pm)

Peace_signLast week the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holden, announced that an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has been initiated to address the allegations of abuse of power by Ferguson police resulting from the shooting death of unarmed 18-year old, Michael Brown. According to news reports, the federal investigation is welcomed by the police leadership and the Brown family has made statements calling for the pursuit of truth so that justice can be served. According to an MSNBC report, the Brown family attorney, Benjamin Crump said: “We can’t have another young man’s life taken amid murky circumstances…We want the truth to shine brightly.”

Justice requires pursuit of truth

The pursuit of truth is difficult when emotions are high and this is especially true in the social network. Cyber-powered connectivity can intensify the temptation to rush to judgment without all the facts and it is difficult to maintain a perspective to pursue justice before the pursuit of truth has even begun. I struggled with my own temptation to make judgments watching the news coverage of events in Ferguson several weeks ago as they were reported on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, Fox News, Instagram, and Twitter. I saw images of and listened to reports about the autopsy of an unarmed young man shot six times in broad daylight, and listened to descriptions of a violent altercation between Brown and the officer before he was shot, watched videos of police throwing tear gas into crowds protesting police use of excessive force; listened to the experiences of Ferguson citizens under siege as their neighborhood was transformed into a scene reminiscent of urban warfare in the Ukraine and Syria as state, federal and local law enforcement armed with tanks and other military equipment mobilized against citizens assembled for protest along with a handful of trouble makers from out of town.

All of this mayhem was punctuated a few times with the gut wrenching, courageous calls for peace by Michael’s family whose anguish over the loss of their son in this particular manner can only be imagined.
And by comparison to social media newsfeeds, the police department was slow to share the facts about the shooting and the identity of the officer who shot Brown, Darren Warren; and when they did it was a colossal public relations fumble – at the same time releasing tapes of Brown allegedly committing a strong arm robbery of a liquor store minutes before the shooting death, thus reinforcing the belief that police leadership cannot be trusted and the power crisis intensified further. And then there were statements of an anonymous friend of Warren who called into a radio station, claiming to give Warren’s version of the altercation that resulted in lethal force. Tensions escalated further. Eventually community leaders were able to organize peaceful protests as they cooperated with law enforcement to remove the trouble makers from the crowds. Once the community took control over the protests, I recall a couple of news reports about supporters of officer Darren Warren.

This entire story telling as fact was shared, streamed and tweeted without the testimony of the people involved: Brown and Warren.

As this dizzying array of data points gathered by my own brain formed a version of the Ferguson narrative it reinforced for me a concern and hope that the bully social climate of our society, regardless of the motivation be it gender, racial, socio-economic differences or authority status, can only be tamed when courageous leaders in our own homes, neighborhoods and communities offer compassion and a mindset to rise above the fray of the raw angry emotion inspired by real experiences.

Welcome to making a peaceful society 101.

It requires thought leadership that will not be corrupted by fear. The kind of fear that convinces us our power is something that can be taken by current and past circumstances. It is the fear that translates lies into real experiences with real consequences murdering the truth if we choose to allow it. The truth is that our children are not criminals and murderers unless we and they agree with this thought regardless of what is happening. And there is a deep ache in response to Michael Brown’s death that represents for me how modern youth perceive legitimate authority as a relational experience that cannot be found in a position or title, rather it is found in a relationship which was perhaps absent between law enforcement and the community.  The Ferguson city council is meeting today for the first time since the shooting and there will no doubt be plenty of media coverage. I hope that the tragic consequences of this disconnect from truth ignites a national conversation about abuse of power (bullying) and justice (compassion for the dignity of all individuals and restraint of power) that will help Ferguson and other communities find common ground to heal and prosper. And I wonder what lessons about righteousness and justice youth are learning from their experiences with authority figures at home and in the community. It is always easier to seek a system of justice that holds individuals accountable with mercy and hope for a future, not vengeance, when we believe we are indeed related to one another as fellow citizens.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

2014 August Monthly Round Up

 

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show

Banana Moments Foundation YouTube Channel

Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner

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Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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