Dispatch from Ferguson, Monday Night, August 18, 2014

by Li Onesto | August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


I ran into something of a “people’s press conference” tonight. Here’s the story.

Way before it got dark lots of people gathered on Florissant street Monday night. The police presence was heavy and more right up in the face of people than in nights past. About a quarter mile of the street was blocked off and the police were letting people in, but they were tightly controlling people’s movement. Lots of press tents were set up along the sidewalk at the corner of the Ferguson Market—where several people had been arrested in the afternoon.

It was just getting dark when I arrived, around 8 pm. I saw a big line of police already set up across the intersection in full riot gear. The MRAPs [mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles]. On one corner there was a large crowd of people gathered and many were people lining the streets. Lots of cops were in the street at this point but they were letting people cross back and forth.

The so-called Black radicals who had tried to enforce the curfew the night before, together with religious forces, had organized a march of a couple hundred people. Ministers had been mobilized to come out and participate. At the front of this was the rap star Nelly marching with a t-shirt that said “#MikeBrown.” People kept pushing their way through the wall of press to shake his hand and thank him for coming to Ferguson. Earlier in the day at the Target parking lot where the press was setting up, I had briefly talked to Kiki Palmer who had come to Ferguson to express her support for the fight for justice for Michael Brown. I had seen her out in the street with protesters the night before.

A ways down Florrisant I joined a kind of on-the-spot press conference by a young Black man from the neighborhood. Because of this whole week of protests by the people of Ferguson, the life experience and sentiments of the people here is getting a little media coverage—in ways it didn’t before. The man addressed the group of about 8 or so media people:

“You know what they said, you know what type of stuff they put together? They said this man had a gun on him. He didn’t have no gun on him, trust me. It wasn’t right, you know it wasn’t right.

“I’m 21, I got an 8-month-old child.... what do I supposed to tell him, I keep trying to talk to him. I know he not really understanding but I’m telling him like you gotta grow up to watch the police. If they tell you to do something, do it, don’t give them no talk back. I just feel like justice needs to get served, you know what I’m saying.

“And I shout out to all the famous people who heart it touched, for real, cause y’all is coming down here, y’all showing us so much love. They showing us love out there, they protesting in Atlanta. I show them so much love, because this means so much to us, for real. All we want is justice. We want all the crooked cops gone. We don’t just want Darren Wilson, we want all of them gone. You know what I’m saying.

“You know what type of Black people they get the most, us young Black men. Because we don’t know no better sometimes. We don’t know no better. They not going to get a grown Black man who done been through that type of stuff because they know their rights, they been to jail a couple of times, they know their rights. They want to get the young black men, mess up they heads.

“I been getting messed with by the police my whole life and I would not lie. I remember it was the Lakers vs. Celtics playoffs. I was outside, it was me and a couple of my partners, I was outside. We was smoking, I’m on the phone. On the phone, the officers got the guns drawn on my partners. I’m across the street, I’m not knowing that I’m a suspect in any of this, how am I a suspect? So I turn to a gun drawn in my face, he like, 'put your hands up.' I goes to put my phone in my pocket. Do you know what this man almost did to me—this man almost killed me, I swear to god, I would not lie to you. This man said, 'He got a gun! He got a gun!' Man, I said, 'Man, I ain’t got no gun!' And he said, you know what that man said? 'I want you to have something on you because I’m going to beat your ass.' That’s what that man said. I swear to god on my son. He said, 'I’m going to beat your ass if you got something on you....City, county, all of them, they wrong. None of them right, trust me.”

One of the press people asks, “What is your name?”

The speaker says: “My name is Mike Brown.” People crowded around clap and cheer. People start chanting, “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”

The man talks about other young Black men who have been killed by the police, like Sean Bell and says, “People are tired of this... this shit keep happening, keep happening. The only thing that saving them is this badge that they got on. Fuck that badge though.”

And still no justice for Michael Brown.




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