Michael Brown–Karma versus Justice

Throughout America, news reports suggest there is a problem with the use of excessive force by police. Often it is applied in the arrest or simply the stopping of young African American males. It should be noted that it is also a problem in dealing with mentally disturbed individuals. The former occurs in major part due to institutional racism still embedded in the American system–profiling young Blacks. They are stopped all out of proportion with their representation in the population and all  out of proportion to their actual criminality. Then, when they do not respond with the respect and deference that law enforcement officials would expect, they are beaten or killed.

So it happened with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb which is now 2/3 Black but which has an overwhelmingly White police force. There are guidelines for the use of deadly force by police–applied to defend themselves or others against a deadly threat and sometimes to stop a fleeing armed and violent felon. Neither of those situations applied to the shooting of Michael Brown. Unarmed and no longer in close proximity to the officer who fired the fatal shots, he could neither be a deadly threat nor a danger to the community. Still, all the facts are not in. For those that are known, it seems inconceivable that the officer should not eventually face arrest and trial for at a minimum, voluntary manslaughter. Into the case comes the herring, which in Buddhist terms, i.e., karma, may not be as red as one may think. From a store security camera, it appears that Michael Brown had walked out of a convenience store with items he had not paid for. When confronted by a diminutive store clerk, Brown pushed or shoved and appeared to threaten the clerk before walking out with what were said to be cigarillos. That it in fact was Brown, seems not in dispute, since his friend and witness to the shooting, who also appears in the security video, has admitted through his attorney that he was there with Brown in the store. The cop who shot Brown ostensibly was unaware of Brown’s robbery. Even if the officer had been, he would not be justified in killing Brown for the theft of the cigars and the threat to the clerk. This is where karma comes in.

From the video, Brown’s character is called into question; rather than simply paying for merchandise, he uses his brawn to intimidate a shopkeeper. One could readily assume that this might not have been the first instance of a large man bullying others. What other similar or worse offenses might have been a part of his background? This is where karma comes in. Karma has no essential relation to the legal system of America or any other country. The results one gets in a court depend on the law as applied to the facts. The results one gets in life outside the courtroom depend on the causes one makes. Brown’s karma, evidently, was sufficiently negative for his death to result on the streets of Ferguson. That in no way let’s the officer who killed him off the hook for being the instrumentality of that karma. Whether he gets convicted in a court of law for the shooting, he has made his own karma–for which he will receive an effect sooner or later.