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Black Power for Ferguson, Mo.

Charles Barron | 8/21/2014, 5:38 p.m.
"Let me quickly say though: Putting Black faces in high places doesn’t necessarily mean things will change. We don’t want ...

Aug. 14, 2014, I participated in a spirited, well-attended rally in New York at the Harlem State Office Building, organized by the December 12 Movement, to show solidarity with the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Mo., and demand justice. As you know, Michael Brown was an unarmed teenager who was killed in a cold-blooded execution by a white Ferguson police officer. Black people of Ferguson will continue to rise up and do what is necessary for justice around this issue, and we will maintain our solidarity with all of their actions. However, our people in Ferguson must turn this short-range mobilization into long-range organization for Black power in the town of Ferguson.

Check this out: According to the 2010 census, the total population of Ferguson is 21,203; the Black population is 14,297 (67.4 percent) and the white population is only 6,206 (29.3 percent). Yet the mayor is white (he had no opponent), the police chief is white and of the 53 commissioned police officers, 50 are white and three are Black. There are six members of the city council, five whites and one Black (most had no opponents); and seven members of the school board, six whites and one Latino. The median income of all of Ferguson is $36,121 (for Black people it’s lower), and the median income of all of Missouri is $45,321. Eighty-six percent of all traffic stops and 92 percent of all arrests are of Black residents by the 94-percent-white police force. I think you get the picture. The Black population of Ferguson can literally take over the town of Ferguson and all of its power positions.

Let me quickly say though: Putting Black faces in high places doesn’t necessarily mean things will change. We don’t want to just change the complexion of power; we want to change the direction of power. We must be vigilant and put the right Black people in power positions.

Soon the cameras will leave Ferguson and so will the national Black leaders. They both will show up again at the next killing of an unarmed Black resident in another town. I will continue to support all mobilizations and offer my long-range support for the organization of Black power in communities where we constitute the majority. Let’s turn our mobilization into organization and our reaction into proaction. America needs a radical change in its system of governing, and we need power. Don’t blame the violence on the people; blame it on the lack of justice. People are fed up. If the shoe were on the other foot and a Black resident shot and killed a white police officer in Ferguson, the shooter would have been arrested immediately and the prosecution would have commenced. People want justice by any means necessary. Enough is enough! I say justice for Michael Brown! Black power for our people in Ferguson! Remember, our struggle may be long, but the victory is certain!