“…get on the sidewalk!”

Anyone who grew up in the suburbs or a small town knows what it’s like to walk down the middle of the street. It’s pretty common. The streets are quiet – only occasionally will a car come by. And the sidewalks are often in bad repair, and typically too narrow for two people to walk comfortably side by side. The middle of the street has space, sun, and a sense of openness.

Canfield Dr, Ferguson, MO where Michael Brown was shot and killed.

That’s what Michael Brown and his friend were doing on August 9th, 2014 on a quiet, residential suburban street just minutes from his friend’s house, when a police car just happened by.

But according to the law they were jaywalking. Streets are for cars only, even quiet suburban residential streets. So when a police car just happened to come down the street, the police stopped and told them to get off the street and onto the sidewalk. The boys weren’t blocking traffic or endangering any life. But they were breaking the law by “jaywalking”.

Michael Brown apparently said out-loud to the officer what I, too, would have said (but under my breath) -  “Fuck off” – and kept walking. The rest of this sad, tragic story is still playing out…

Walter Chambers

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