Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. ‘When black kids fill the jails and the morgues so disproportionately we are in a state of extreme dysfunction.’ Photograph: Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images
Is there a price to pay for summarily killing a man, or is it just what happens in Ferguson when one man has a badge and the other too much melanin?
In September 1955, an all-white jury took just 67 minutes to acquit Emmett Till’s killers. Till, 14, said either “Bye, baby” or wolf-whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Mississippi. Three days later his body was fished out of the Tallahatchie river with a bullet in his skull, an eye gouged out and his forehead crushed on one side. “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop,” said one juror, “it wouldn’t have taken that long.”
In 2014, racism is more sophisticated but no less deadly. The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown is taking its time. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Wilson has been suspended on full pay and has not been charged. The four-month period that a panel usually convenes for expired last month. The judge gave the grand jury 60 more days to make a decision, so it has until January 7 to decide whether to indict Wilson. That’s a lot of pop.