Dispatch from Ferguson, Tuesday, August 19

by Li Onesto | August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us



Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

People ask about the youth who have been in the streets. The defiant ones. I’ll share notes of an interview I did with a young Black man – and other people jumped in as well. I haven’t had time to organize these notes but let me share them raw:

Question: What—what have—what has your experience been in this area with the police department?

Young Black man: Oh, this has been a war zone, quite simple. They’re out here with M-16s...

Question: Before—I’m talking about even before...

Young Black man: Oh, you mean before this?

Question: Yes.

Young Black man: The police been over there—they’ve been racist. I’ve been there—I’ve been here for 12 years now. The police, they will follow you. They will harass you. They will—they’ll shine a light on your car as they drivin’, they’ll shine it until they drive by you and then they’ll get behind you. And they’ll pull you over. Then they’ll take you out of your car, want to search your car, want to—they’ll push you on the car. They’ll say oh, I smell weed in your car. I don’t even smoke.

They’ll pull you out, put you in handcuffs, put you on the curb. You’re embarrassed as people driving by. This is a main street. I done have people—I done have one of my professors drive by and see me.

You know what I’m saying, like they don’t care about you. The police, period. It ain’t just Ferguson. That’s what everybody keeps missing. It is not just Ferguson. It’s Florissant, it’s Pagedale, Pine Lawn, Dellwood. It’s all of this—Sabelfeld, all of that. You ain’t—look, every—every municipality here in North County and the surrounding areas is full of racist officers.

Their makeup determines that. Whatever you—how do you assign a—a person outside of the community to police the community? You don’t know me. You don’t know what I go through.

Question: How many times have you been stopped by the police...

Young Black man: I don’t know.

Question: Since you were 12 years old?

Young Black man: I don’t know I can’t even tell you. I would be lying to tell you about how many times I’ve been stopped and harassed or how many vehicles I’ve had illegally searched or ran through.

(A second man): We may be stopped today on the highway leaving here.

Young Black man:  Exactly. On my way down here one night, on Tuesday night when I was coming down here, they tried to stop me. I had to take back roads to get over here. I tell you, they don’t care. Like no matter how much press coverage—this—all this shit is cool. It’s cool. I like. It’s cool. Everybody here. But when you all leave, the cameras cut off, we’ve got to live here.

Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

It is going to be right back to what they’ve been doing, because they don’t care. Any time you’ve got 53 officers in a—in a—in a police department, three of them are black, the 70 something percent of the community is black, how does that work? How do you think that that works?

A person who’s supposed to be smart and a person who’s supposed to care about your community, how do you sit there and say, you look at your police department roster and you say OK, I’ve got 50 white police officers. You look at the community and see, 60 percent of my community is black.

Damn, why—why is it like that? That doesn’t make sense. It is not just Ferguson. If you look at all the departments, there is a—a huge—a huge disparity in black police officers, in actual /like the police department. And then when you get black police officers, you don’t have no black police chiefs.

Question: But then let me ask you this, though, I’m from New York.

Young Black man: Yes.

Question: And we have lots of black police officers. But they still murder people, and do all this.

Young Black man: The NYPD is just racist.

(A third man jumps in): Black officers won’t solve the problem, because the problem is the mentality that we’re judged by. Until that changes, there will be no—no...

 Question: I mean this is racist America.

(Third man): It’s a systemic institutional racism. Like we weren’t designed in the mind of America. When “The Constitution” was drawn up, we were no more than just yard tools. So you don’t—when you make plans for your life, you don’t say, damn, what is my vacuum cleaner going to do tomorrow? I need to write some rights for my lawn mower. He going to want—he going to want to do some boatin’, probably. You don’t think like that.

Young Black man:  Right.

(Third man):  They never created this system with us in mind. We were never factored in. The fact that we got... the whole system needs to be thrown. The whole entire system. People in positions of power is an anomaly. We were never supposed to succeed. They done everything to stop black men from succeeding, everything. You look at prisons, we’re far more incarcerated than any other race. We don’t even make up enough of the population to have that much black people in prison.

Young Black man:  It doesn’t make sense.

Question: Yes. It’s 12 percent of the population and something like over 60 percent...

Young Black man: Is black and brown men.

Question: Yes. Right.

Young Black man: The laws are rigged to make sure we get these Black men locked up.

Question: Well, Michelle—Michelle Alexander has called it the new Jim Crow.

Young Black man: That’s all it is. Like all we doin’ is facilitating their prison systems, which is one of the biggest industries in the—in the country and all of these people who are in power, political power, have prisons—Halliburton, George Bush owning a prison, all these type of things—all these—what’s this guy, the dude—the dude who shot—Dick Cheney owned Halliburton. You know, it’s like all these programs that people are getting paid off of incarcerating black people.

And nobody cares because we’re black. That’s what it boils down to. If reporters didn’t get shot at the other night and didn’t get tear gassed...

You wouldn’t be here. And I’m not saying that is a respectful thing to you at all, but you would not be...

Question: Well, I would be here.

Young Black man:  Yes, yes, not you...

Question: Because I’m with Revolution

Young Black man: Well, yes… most of like all these other media outlets, nobody would be here if we were—if it was still them shooting niggers, they wouldn’t care. I was out here and I seen snipers sitting on top of an armored truck and a police line...

Question: Now how intimidating was that?

Young Black man: To be honest with you, I was scared for probably about 30 seconds, until they started shooting and I realized fuck it, we out here. We here now.

(Woman joins the conversation):  That’s right!

Young Black man:  It is very simple.

Question: It is true, though, you know, like what—I just interviewed Dick Gregory, you know. And one of the things he said was that like...

Young Black man: Here?

Question: Yes, he was here.

Young Black man: Where he at?

Question: He’s over there. He was being interviewed by CNN.

But Dick Gregory, one of the things he pointed out, and I think this is really true, he said the whole world is watching this now.

Young Black man:—that’s why you see Ron Johnson walking through and taking pictures of people.

Question: Yes.

Young Black man: Man, fuck him.

Question: That’s bullshit. Exactly.

Young Black man: Fuck him. You know what’s funny to me, whenever they—whenever they fuck up like this, they throw a black face on it and then expect everybody to be cool. I’m not cool.

Young Black man:—that goes back to the Stockholm Syndrome. That’s where we lose sight of the fact that we—we think that any sense of empathy or any sense of them letting up is empathy, when, in all honesty, it’s not. We’re still being oppressed. We’re still being forced into a position that they want us. But like my brother said, they’ll throw a black face on something just to get multiple black faces. Oh, OK, it’s safe now. When, in all honesty, it’s not, because it’s not even about color, it’s about justice. That’s the main issue. It’s about justice. That’s everything. They’re—they are afraid now because they see when they us unified. and when they shot at us, they unified us.

They made us one. They made us realize, you know what—because I seen, last night when was out here, there was Bloods, Crips, Six Deuces, GDs. It was all type of gangs out here kicking it, drinking, smoking, having a good time, kicking it with each other. People who I’ve seen before shoot at each other are now friends, because of what? Because of this event. You’ve got gangs unifying... We’ve got black people getting together. We’ve got black people sticking together now. And so what’s scary to these police is the fact that now they know they can’t control us no more. We were—we were divided, fighting amongst each other, that was our main issue. We was fighting amongst each other. Now we’re not fighting amongst each other. We’re ready to fight them. That’s why they scared. And that’s the problem. That’s exactly why they scared, because they—now they see, they fucked up when they came over here with that tear gas and they started messing with us. They fucked up when they keep on making these police size and they keep on harassing us...

They’ve harassed us for years and years. Now you want to be peaceful. No, you declare a war, you can’t—you can’t scream for peace after you just started a war. That’s what they did. And now—and now they seeing it, we’re not scared no more. Ain’t nobody out here scared. Nobody is worried, because it’s like they’ve got arms and they’ve got provisions for themselves, so do these people out here. Nobody scared. That’s why they scared, because they see—they—they fucked it up. When they had us scared, they should have left it at that. Once we see, oh tear gas ain’t that bad. It ain’t that bad. You’ll be OK. Tie your shirt around your face, you’ll be all right. You’ll get used to it. You’ll be OK. Rubber bullets? These are just like regular bullets. We’ve been ducking bullets for years here. They’re not surprising nobody.

And they’ve agitated that situation, because now that they’ve—they’ve dis—they’ve stripped the right—the First Amendment right for us to assemble peacefully, they’ve stripped our rights, now they’ve got black people learning about their rights, understanding the First Amendment and the Second Amendment and understanding what they can do to arm themselves, what they can do to protect themselves, not just physically, but intellectually, as well.

Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

Black people are out here sharing knowledge. We’ve had lawyers out here. We’ve had others out here. People are talking. People are out here actually communicating with each other. You’ve got people—you’ve got thugs, criminals, drug dealers talking to lawyers, professors, doctors. Last night we was marching through Canfield, you had a professor standing next to Bloods with tattoos on their face. You see how crazy that is?

But—but that’s the problem. See, they—at a point in time a few years ago, it was all—we was all looking at each other crazy. Now you don’t see that out here. We’ve been out here for two nights straight, no fights, no violence, no gunshots, no nothing.

That’s scary. And they thought they was going to leave us alone and niggers was going to start being niggers, we were going to start hating each other again. They fucked that up.

They messed that up. They messed that up themselves. That’s why they’ve got Ron Johnson out here trying to be the spokesperson and trying to be out here kissing babies and shit. I mean get the fuck on. Nobody trying to hear that. We know what they did. We—the jig is up. The jig is up, America. We know. We smart—we—we read now. Massa gave us books. We read now.


And still no justice for Michael Brown.




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