“Arrest Darren Wilson now! Get the warrant, knock down his door, handcuff him, perp-walk him, arraign him, indict him, convict him. Nothing less.” These are the words of respected activist Rosa Clemente, teaching assistant at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Seems like the whole nation—and even foreign countries like Turkey, Syria and England—have a poignant response to the fireball rushing through Ferguson, Mo.
As the world watches the saga in Ferguson unfold, now two weeks since the death of Black unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer, protest and unrest continue with hopes that the federal government’s intervention will cool things.
Funeral arrangements for Brown were announced this week: Services are being held Aug. 25 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Ferguson. The Rev. Al Sharpton is eulogizing Brown.
Videos of clashes with protesters and now the National Guard remain visible to the world. This week several protesters were taken into custody. Tuesday, 47 people were arrested. Reports also indicate that St. Louis County Police fatally shot a 23-year-old man who allegedly wielded a knife at them and threatened to kill them.
The world received information this week on how Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson. An independent autopsy by the family reveals Brown was shot six times, with one fatal shot to the head; an autopsy by the St. Louis County medical examiner’s office reportedly reveals Brown was shot multiple times and that he had marijuana in his system.
According to Dr. Michael Baden, a well-known forensic pathologist who is also the former chief medical examiner for New York City, Brown was shot six times but the first five shots would not have killed him.
“But often in an investigation like this, it’s not uncommon for prosecutors not to want information released, but I think in my experience, when that happens it only gets the community more upset,” Baden said at a press conference.
A diagram from the autopsy shows Brown was shot mostly on his left side in the hand, arm, chest, lower neck, chin and eye. The independent autopsy showed no signs of a struggle. Baden, who was hired by the family, also performed autopsies on the shootings of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
The Missouri National Guard is now on the streets of Ferguson at the order of Gov. Jay Nixon. According to a press release, police shot smoke canisters into a crowd of nearly 400 people Sunday night. Police in Ferguson say that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at officers and that shots were also fired at police.
“We are all frustrated and looking for justice to be achieved regarding the shooting death of Michael Brown,” Nixon said in a statement. “As the dual investigations continue into what happened nine days ago at Canfield Green, we must defend Ferguson from these violent interlopers so that the peaceful protests can operate in peace and the search for answers and justice can continue.”
Concerns over Ferguson’s use of military-style policing in the aftermath of the Brown shooting still come into question. Many feel bringing in the National Guard could cause even more problems. Black Missouri State Highway Patrol Commander Capt. Ron Johnson is supervising security responsibilities in the city.
FBI agents are in the area where Brown was killed by Officer Wilson interviewing witnesses. The agents are working together with attorneys from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s office and have already conducted several interviews of witnesses on the scene at the time of the shooting.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met Monday to discuss the situation in Ferguson upon Obama’s return from vacation at Martha’s Vineyard. Other officials in the meeting included White House deputy chief of staff Anita Breckenridge, White House counsel Neil Eggleston and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco.
Holder arrived in Ferguson Wednesday, receiving an on-the-ground briefing on the Justice Department’s federal civil rights investigation into the shooting of Brown. He met with community leaders, FBI officials and local elected officials. Holder is also ordering a third—federal—autopsy
“I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation,” Holder said. “The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation.”
Meanwhile, Chet Whye, executive director of the Harlem4 Center for Change rejects the notion of self-imposed leaders rushing to corral a righteously aggrieved community. “They are galvanized by outrage,” he said. “They don’t need a face for that. The Black organizations and ‘leaders’ who never engaged before now have the ‘resources’ to fly in and the unmitigated gall to want participation from these young people on their terms, and they are being dismissed.”
Fresh from Ferguson, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network is holding the “We Will Not Go Back” march Saturday on Staten Island for Brown and Eric Garner. The “Justice Caravan” of buses will leave from Brooklyn and New Jersey Saturday morning, and demonstrators will march to the Staten Island district attorney’s office.
While some focus on the media-hyped notion of people destroying their stores, New York activist Omowale Clay stated, “It was critical that Black people demonstrated their support for the uprising in Ferguson.” Speaking at a rally organized by the December 12Movement last Thursday, Clay stressed, “The nation had not heard of Ferguson, Mo., before the killing of an unarmed Michael Brown, shot by a Ferguson police officer. However, that fact alone would not have elevated small town Ferguson to international notoriety, or President Obama speaking about Ferguson on two back-to-back press conferences. After all, the choking to death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, recorded on videotape, did not even generate that level of commentary.
No, what made Ferguson almost a common household name in the course of less than a week is the fact that the Black community has sustained an uprising that has lasted over several days—an uprising fueled by the killing of Michael Brown but the result of longstanding oppressive conditions.”
Clay concluded, “You see, it is the uprising that has grabbed the attention of the world, with TV scenes that more resemble the siege of Gaza.”
Last Thursday night, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of New York City in reaction to the killings of Brown and Garner. A group of demonstrators from various groups marched from Union Square to Times Square holding signs and chanting. Police arrested 60 people.
And then there is the Internet post showing folks at a football match holding up a sign saying “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.”
While the silence from so many rappers—the should-be griots of a disenfranchised generation—is deafening, in an Instagram post, Atlanta-based artist T.I. demanded, “Look at us. … America has created a monster. The result of ignoring & mishandling an already fragile-spirited, recently enslaved, presently oppressed race/generation of people. … We’re the monster that now refuses to be dismissed, overlooked & ignored. We were brought to this place, unaware of our own cultures, religion and traditions, therefore, we created our own.
“For years we’ve been crying out for the nation to address the substandard education systems & disparaging treatment of our citizens in communities across America. … How long can u expect a nation/race/generation of people to be blatantly disrespected? Our fathers, uncles, brothers & role models were killed & imprisoned more often than educated.
“Now look at us. Our friends & relatives murdered and cast aside without thought, as though your human life is more valuable than ours. How long can that go on without consequence?”
T.I. continued in the lengthy post, “To My People. … Look at us. Rebels without a cause. Soldiers without a general. A lost generation. Ready for war. No strategy, no training. Armed only with our grief, aggravation, and passionate disdain for our treatment in America. Sick and tired of everything … especially ourselves. We’d rather use the tragedies of our environment as an excuse to act-out, go-off, or turn-up, rather than use our education, talents & future opportunities to get-out, speak-up,& make-a-change. Look at us … Too Enraged to sit around & do nothing. But Too Entrapped in da cycle of vengeance/hostility to do anything WORTH doing.”
T.I. acknowledged that some of his prior actions make him “at fault to a degree,” and folk have reached the brink and were subject to take their actions to dangerous levels, but, “What are we changing …Really? Look at us. Destroying our own community, but continuing to spend money in theirs. Refusing education … re-volving in the same cycle of ignorance instead of e-volving out of it.”
“The senseless murder of another unarmed Black man has once again ripped open the wounds of a nation,” said Terrie Williams, author of the much-hailed “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting.” “Treated as if we are simultaneously invisible while highly conspicuous, ignored when we are in need and profiled when we are simply proceeding. The attack on the lives of Black men like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Sean Bell, Abner Louima and Oscar Grant serves as a reminder that Black lives in America are not valued. These not-so-uncommon instances of police extremism often shatter the trust between law enforcement and the people they are meant to protect.”
Among the options to overcome this bitter paradigm, Williams, a licensed clinical social worker, suggests to those deeply affected, “Fight the Power: Channel your rage and anguish over the verdict effectively and get involved with local/national efforts to fight for justice for Michael Brown. Participating in rallies/protests will allow you to connect with others who are feeling the same way as you, but don’t stop there. If you aren’t already, get politically engaged! Hold politicians accountable and help your friends/family do the same.”