Michael Brown Is a Victim. But Not in the Way That You May Think.
According to the grand jury in Ferguson, MO, 18-year-old Michael Brown lost his life on August 9, 2014 when he charged police Officer Darren Wilson.
Wilson had his gun drawn. When Brown charged the police officer, who was much smaller than he was, the officer feared for himself and fired.
But how did Brown get to that point?
Moments prior to the fatal shots, the grand jury found that Brown had had an altercation with Officer Wilson at* the back of the officer's car. Brown went for the officer's weapon. Wilson fired two shots at that point. Forensic evidence -- gunpowder residue on Brown's hand, a wound on Brown's hand, Brown's blood on the gun and in the car -- says that there was a fight between the teenager and police officer. After the first shots, he fled, then turned back toward Wilson.
But how did things get to that point?
Moments before the altercation in the squad car, Officer Wilson had stopped Brown and a friend, Dorian Johnson, who were walking down the middle of the road and disrupting traffic. Wilson did not know what Brown and Johnson had done just prior to that, or why they were disrupting traffic.
Moments prior to that, Brown and Johnson had robbed a liquor store. They didn't take cash, though. They stole less than $50 worth of Swisher Sweets cigars. Brown was supposedly heading off to college soon. Why did he risk everything for a petty robbery?
And why did he act like a thug and steal that specific type of cigar?
It turns out that Swisher Sweets cigars have a specific purpose to marijuana smokers. Some pot smokers take Swisher Sweets, which are among the cheapest cigars on the market, hollow them out, and fill them with pot. That disguises the pot as an ordinary cigar. Brown's social media included strong hints that he used Swisher Sweets cigars in that way.
Stealing Swisher Sweets cigars doesn't necessarily make Michael Brown a drug user. Social media posts suggesting that he was a drug user don't make him a drug user. But the amount of THC, the chief active ingredient in marijuana, found in Brown's autopsy does mean that he was a drug user. Just prior to the robbery of the convenience store, Brown had used so much pot that he could have had hallucinations, according to the autopsy. He may have been hallucinating when Officer Wilson confronted him in the middle of the street. We will never know.
How did Brown get to the point where he was a heavy pot user, at least once, and strong-arm robbed a liquor store to obtain cigars used to conceal drug use? And from whom was he concealing that drug use?
Answering those questions may finally get us to understand what happened to Michael Brown, and why. We need to rewind far past August 9, 2014, back as many as 18 years.
Did Brown's parents know who his friends were? Did they know about his drug use? Did they know about his social media habit of pretending to be a gang banger? Was he one of those kids born into a "good family" that taught him well, only to reject those values? Was he taught any values at all?