The escalating situation in Ferguson, MO has sparked national debate about the role of police and racial profiling in this country. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Jesse Williams jumped into the fray when he gave his frank opinion about Ferguson and the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by local police on Aug. 9.
Williams argues the importance of “starting the story from the beginning” and the need for journalism to keep the topic of conversation surrounding the Ferguson situation on track.
“You’ll find that the people doing the oppressing always want to start the narrative at a convenient part, or always want to start the story in the middle,” he says in the clip. “This started with a kid getting shot and killed and left in the street for four hours.”
Williams, who is bi-racial with a Swedish-American mother and African-American father, also points out that the Michael Brown case is not an isolated incident. He makes the point that it is impossible to find black men in this country who have not been harassed by police officers at some point.
“There’s a complete double standard and a complete different experience that a certain element of this country has the privilege of being treated like human beings, and the rest of us are not treated like human beings. … That needs to be discussed, that’s the story,” he explains.
Williams is most notably known for his role as plastic surgeon Jackson Avery on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but the young actor also has a degree in African-American studies from Temple University. He spent six years teaching American and African studies in the Philadelphia public school system before transitioning to modeling and acting.
While many are crediting the actor for making bold statements, he is echoing the frustrations of millions of Americans watching the Ferguson situation unfold. Williams also addresses the irresponsibility of the Ferguson County Police Department to release a video of Michael Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store minutes before his fatal encounter with the police.
Williams makes the poignant point that black youths are not the only ones to commit petty theft or steal from a convenience store. Black people do not own drug sales or drug crime, and there’s something wrong with our public perception when we allow those images to diminish the value of a human life.
“There’s a lot of bizarre behavior going on, and that is the story, that’s where we need journalism. That’s where we need that element of society to kick into gear and not just keep playing a loop of what the kid may have done in a convenience store,” Williams explains.
“This is about finding justice for a kid that was shot, an 18-year-old that was shot, period.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” returns to ABC on Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.