But there's something much bigger going on here. The question that needs to be asked is why doesn't the community of Ferguson, and communities across the country, trust that the right verdict was reached. That's the reason for the protests, right? If there was trust in the system then the protests wouldn't be needed. Regardless of whether or not charges should have been filed, what we know about the shooting of Michael Brown is that it isn't just about Michael Brown.
It's about the statistical reality that black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white teenagers.
It's about the guy who called in on the radio today and said that we can't blame African-American's problems today on slavery anymore since it ended 400 years ago. Only 250 years off.
It's about the fact that 100 years after the end of slavery we still had "white" and "colored" water fountains.
It's about the embarrassing truth that unemployment remains twice as high for African-Americans than for white Americans, and has ever since the Civil Rights Movement.
In short, the story of Michael Brown, whether or not he was ever a real threat to anyone the day he was shot, is a story of institutional racism. This is the reality - not just theory - that there are biases so deep that most of us who are in the majority aren't even aware that they exist. What makes it so pernicious is that it is invisible to us because of our social location. That doesn't mean it's not real.
There's a helpful metaphor for those of us who believe in God - God is like the wind. We don't see God directly, we see God by how God effects others like the wind blowing a leaf. In the same way, we don't see institutional racism directly - we don't hear racial slurs as often or see "white only" signs. Instead we see it by its effects. Protesters in Ferguson, unemployed adults and under-educated teens, citizens ignorant of basic history.
Michael Brown's death is tragic. Even more tragic is that it won't be the last. We have unquestionably made progress, but we unquestionably have a long, long way to go.