Officials must dig deep into Michael Brown's life to discover what led him the tragic teen to stage a convenience store robbery, says civil-rights activist Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We have to look much further and much deeper and consider why a young man like Michael Brown felt that he needed to go in and rob a convenience store,'' King said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"It's wrong. He shouldn't do that. So we just want to make sure that we look at the whole picture.''
The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo., has been hit by racial unrest since Brown, unarmed, was stopped on the street by a police officer for blocking traffic, sparking a confrontation that ended in Brown being fatally shot.
A video allegedly shows Brown robbing a convenience store — an act apparently unrelated to the later incident.
King said that finding out the sociological reasons behind Brown's crime is essential to stopping it in the future.
"Why are these people desperate? Why are they doing these things?'' she asked, echoing one police official.
"What's wrong with an education system that let them drop out and not prepare them to work and do an honest day's work for honest day's pay so they can have some dignity so they don't end up in the convenience store?
"We're not making excuses, we're not excusing any action. Certainly it's wrong to ever attack a police officer, an officer of the law. That's absolutely wrong, so now all of these facts are going to have to be examined.''
King — a pastoral associate and director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries — has been a frequent critic of President Barack Obama, but she praised his calling for calm in Ferguson.
"People are going to be totally shocked to hear me say that when I heard the president speak I heard calm and reason,'' she said.
"He called for the people to do justice and not violence and he said let us be calm, let us examine, let us step back so we can move forward.
"I don't agree with necessarily stepping back or stepping away, but let's clear the air, let's clear our heads. Let's find out what is wrong…. President Obama's tone appeared to call for reason and calmness.
She said she recalled how the president had once referenced the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, saying that the teen shot dead by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman could have been his son.
"I was hoping he would not repeat that and he did not,'' she said.
King called for a " divine voice from heaven, speaking reason calling for justice and peace'' to descend on Ferguson.
"There are pastors and leaders in the community. I'm praying with them on the phone daily so there is some reason and sanity emerging,'' she said.
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