Despite this public record that has spanned decades, my email inbox and Twitter feed have been jammed this week with hateful screeds calling me a racist for my response to the chaos surrounding Ferguson. Many of the same people who praised me during the Trayvon debate are now suggesting I join the Klan.
I guess I have once again failed to maintain Emerson’s “foolish consistency.” For some reason, I can’t narrow my view of the world to a cartoonish black and white landscape. Too many see the police as always being right while presuming that blacks are always guilty. Too many others presume cops are always oppressive while granting absolution to all oppressed minorities. Unfortunately, I make things too complicated. I actually burden myself with the facts of each case before drawing conclusions. And as Emerson suggested, I will continue to speak “in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts every thing I said today.”
And sure enough, I will contradict tomorrow what I said today. The reason is simple. The facts coming from Staten Island in the case of Eric Garner’s tragic death differ as much from Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson as Mr. Brown’s death differed from Trayvon Martin’s. As I have said for months, I believe New York police officers used excessive force and killed a man for committing a minor offense and the cops involved should be punished.