Jorge Rivas for Fusion

My generation — millennials ages 18-35 — have grown up in a nation where it's customary to record and upload YouTube videos of police abuse. In 2009 we saw video of a police officer shoot a young Oakland man, Oscar Grant, while he lied on his stomach. And we saw it from a dozen different angles, all shot on cellphone cameras. We also saw the officer that shot him walk free after serving 11-months later.

In 1992, a day after the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, President George H. W. Bush said the case "left us all with a deep sense of personal frustration and anguish."


The latest police shooting to stir national controversy, the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., prompted President Barack Obama to take time off from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard to say “now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.”

But what does justice mean for a generation of millennials who have experienced so much frustration and anguish of their own and have heard these promises before?

Fusion asked young people gathered at a demonstration for Michael Brown in New York City's Union Square Thursday evening how they define justice.


Robin, 18

“Justice means I don’t get treated any different. If the colors were reversed in a case like this, the officer would not be on paid leave. He would pay for his actions,” said Robin.


“This officer and the entire police officer have to be held responsible for what they’re doing to people of my color,”

Christopher Viñales, 23


“Justice is a word and I’m not sure President Obama and I agree on the meaning of that word at this point," said Christopher Viñales.

Viñales, whose parents are from Puerto Rico and the the Dominican Republic, said he thinks the officer who shot Michael Brown should be arrested. "[That would be] justice for the moment, but it’s not a solution. It’s something that I think should happen, but I’m not even sure that’s going to happen.”

“To me justice means a complete revamp of the police system," he said. "I want a complete revamp of the white supremacist society that we live in, that’s justice."



“I grew up about 15-minutes away from where all this is happening, and St. Louis is still really segregated. You have white neighborhoods and you have black neighborhoods, and Ferguson is one of those black neighborhoods,” said one woman who agreed to be photographed but asked to remain unidentified.


“Seeing first-hand experience and hearing from my friends and families the atrocities that are going on on American soil is disgusting, so I came to this event today to stand for human rights,” she said.

“Justice means you train those who are supposed to be protecting the community to be decent human beings and make them become active in the community they're protecting.”

Curtis Bryant, 25


“Justice for me means that this shit doesn’t happen again, it’s just happening way too often, way too much,” said Curtis Bryant.

Anonymous, 20


“Justice means a thorough investigation into the situation to the fullest extent of the law,” said a young who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Katerina Castro, 22


“It seems to be there are lot of excuses for what cops do,” said Katerina Castro from the Bronx, who held a sign with the names of Eric Garner, John Crawford, Mike Brown and Ezell Ford, all men who were shot and killed by police officers.

“It’s important for these stories to be heard and mainstream media just isn’t doing enough,” she said. “Justice means justice for the families, so that victims’ families know that yes what these cops did is absolutely wrong and there’s no excuse for it and these cops need to be penalized for their actions.”

Brianna, 20


“I came today because there are lot of deaths in the black community due to police officers overly using force and not knowing when to stop; so I’m here to show that I’m supporting my community,” Brianna explained.

“Justice is finding peace and making sure cops can’t get away with crimes.”