Why Ferguson touched a raw, national nerve


Story highlights

Nationwide protests bring back memories of civil rights era to some observers

Protesters motivated by more than anger over Ferguson, experts say

Controversial case for many is latest reminder of justice system failures

CNN —  

The rage echoing across the nation after a grand jury’s conclusion in Ferguson, Missouri, goes far beyond the decision not to indict white police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

Protesters have blocked bridges and tunnels, spilled into roadways and disrupted Black Friday shopping in more than 150 cities in mostly peaceful protests that conjure memories of the civil rights movement for some. The demonstrators were furious at the grand jury decision, but their frustration transcends anger over what happened between Wilson and Brown in the shadow of St. Louis one Saturday afternoon in August.

“It’s bigger than what happened in Ferguson,” said Dorothy Brown, a law professor at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.

After the grand jury completed its work, many around the United States have interpreted what happened in Ferguson squarely in the context of a larger, historic narrative about race and justice in America.

To them, Ferguson is just the latest reminder that the American criminal justice system doesn’t treat blacks and whites the same – and that young black men in particular are often killed with impunity.