The death of Michael Brown and the court decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson continues to cause outrage across the country. There have been violent rallies and peaceful protests. The public has decided to take matters into their own hands and force changes to be made.
T-Dubb-O, a St. Louis hip-hop artist, said, “First and foremost, we have a lot of unspoken truths that need to come to light. [Police] refuse to be held accountable. They made themselves immune to the laws they apply to the general public. We need accountability. We don’t need more police. Do we need better police? Yes.”
There are also questions over President Barack Obama’s lack of participation and care in the injustices happening. The president hasn’t been to Ferguson, Mo., to show his support yet. The public has continued to make efforts to create awareness and call for justice, but some say that they need the president’s support.
“These are high-powered changes that have to be made,” said Ashley Yates, a co-founder of the St. Louis-based organization Millennial Activists United. “We need the backing of our Black president. We don’t need him to come [to Ferguson]. He should have done that 100 days ago.”
On Monday, Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met with seven young community organizers from Ferguson, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Miami, Fla.; and New York City. During their discussion at the White House, the young leaders discussed the routine harassment and violence that many police departments inflict on communities of color in America. The organizers presented several demands to stop racial profiling and police brutality. The group hosted a media teleconference Tuesday morning.
“The president requested this meeting because this is a movement that cannot be ignored,” said Yates. “We have two sets of laws in America—one for young Black and Brown people, and one for the police. We are sick and tired of our lives not mattering, and our organized movement will not relent until we see justice.”
Yates added, “They definitely don’t need military weapons. They are used in irresponsible ways to oppress the community. They use tear gas that they don’t even use on our foreign enemies, let alone our local citizens.
The idea of having body cameras on police officers has peeked the interest of many. It is a way of having first-hand information about how these situations happen. It is a way of having proof. The reliance of word of mouth will be obsolete.
Regarding police body cameras, James Hayes of the Ohio Students Association said, “Even after we see what they do, will they be held accountable for their actions? … Politics is about power, not policy, and power comes from movement in the street.”
An ongoing discussion nationally about police-community relations involves the perception of an immense level of helplessness, with the notion that efforts to develop solutions are hard to come by.
Diamantie Davy, 21, a New York City student, shared, “The violence will never stop until each life is valued the same. Things won’t change until Mike Brown is looked at equally as Darren Wilson’s son.”
Davy supplied a concise understanding of where the outcome has to be in order for people to get to a place of impartiality. It may seem easy enough, but it takes time to get to a place where the general public has that understanding.
Teff-Poe, another St. Louis hip-hop artist, shared, “We have been working for 116 days. Black people have been oppressed in this country for 400 years. We cannot fix this problem in 116 days. We are not professors. We don’t have doctorate degrees. We are regular people that saw a dead body in the middle of the street and said, ‘Maybe this isn’t right.’”
“Racial profiling and police brutality are real issues in our community. I don’t expect much from the system that has their foot on our throat.”