Voices from Ferguson: "I'm here to represent Dakota Bright"

by Li Onesto | September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A call went out for people from around the country to come to Ferguson for the weekend of August 23-24 to stand with the people who had been taking to the streets for two weeks to demand justice for Michael Brown, who were refusing to back down in the face of police dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests. Michelle Edwards, whose nephew Dakota Bright was murdered by the Chicago police in 2012, was one of the people who responded to this call, and I got a chance to talk to her about why she came to Ferguson:

"I'm here to represent Dakota Bright"

Ferguson, August 23, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

Ferguson, August 23, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

My name is Michelle Edwards and I came because my nephew was killed by Chicago police and when you see stuff like that it just dredge up all the memories of what happened to us. The same way that Michael Brown's mother lost a child, my nephew, my sister lost her child.

Tell me the story of what happened to your nephew.

The police shot him in the back of his head and then put the handcuffs on him.

When did this happen?

It happened November 8 of 2012. They shot my nephew, Dakota Bright, in the back of the head, said he had a gun. Come to find out there was no gun. He was 15 years old. They said he had a gun, he was shooting. They checked him for gun residue, there was no gun residue. They never came up with a gun. Everything about their story was a lie. After they shot him in the back of the head they just had him out there for hours, for hours, for hours. And put the handcuffs on him.

Ferguson, August 18, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

They put the handcuffs on him after they shot him?

After they killed him they put the handcuffs on him. He left his mama, his sisters, his brothers, his cousins, his grandma, everybody. He didn't even have a chance to grow up. Even if he was going through a bad stage as a teenager, he still never had a chance to grow up or live his life or have kids or grandkids, or none of that [crying].

Take your time.

Another family member: We need justice for all these kids that the police think that we are just animals for them to sit out here and just target like that.

Michelle:  Dakota Bright was definitely loved. Definitely loved and for them to do somebody's child like that it makes no sense. What gives them the right to take a life that they didn't give, for no reason. They have no?? What about his mama? What about his brothers, his sisters, his aunties, his uncles, his cousins?

When you saw on the news Michael Brown being killed, that brought all this back?

Oh yeah. Oh yeah, cuz the same way he was laying on the ground, without the cuffs, was how my nephew was laying on the ground. But they said he was pointing a gun at them but got shot in the back of the head. It was only an entry wound, it wasn't an exit wound. How was he shooting a gun at you but yet he got shot in the back of the head? And not only that, they intimidated all the witnesses who seen it to make them not want to testify because they afraid of what the police are going to do to them. They look at it like if they can get away with killing a kid, what are they going to do to me?

They intimidated the witnesses?

Yeah. They intimidated the witnesses. They stalked the family. They called people's jobs. They impounded people's cars.

Another family member: They were at his funeral. They followed us all the way through his burial. They had helicopters at his burial. Everything. And when we left the burial they pulled guns.

Michelle: They had shotguns, AK47s pointed at the funeral, at the burial. They ain't got no heart, they don't care about killing somebody's kid. And then they still get paid to stay at home.

My sister, Pansy Edwards, is never going to get over this. That was her baby. Like she was so scared to even come down here. They took her child, her baby from her. Like she ain't never, ever going to get that back.

Ferguson, August 20, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/revcom.us

So how did you feel when you saw the people of Ferguson taking to the street?

Man, everybody say that Ferguson – why they tearing up their street, why they doing this, why they doing that? Even if it wasn't right that they did that, if they didn't do it people wouldn't even be here like this. If our city stood up like this city stood up it'll be less killings, because they'd be scared to kill somebody's kid...

People are setting an example here. Wasn't there a demonstration in Chicago standing with the people of Ferguson.

Yeah but it wasn't nothing like this. This right here is history. These people made a stand, nobody ever made a stand before.

I came here because I feel her [Michael Brown's mother's] pain from the moment I seen it. I'm like oh my god. The videos of him laying outside, the pictures of him laying outside. That's the same stuff that we seen with my nephew, people taking pictures. The police don't care. Everybody got pictures. Like this mother going to have to go around for the rest of her life seeing -- like if she goes up on the Internet she's always going to have to see her son laying in the middle of the street, shot up, dead. They don't care. These are people's kids that they're taking.

How do you feel about the fact that when people have taken to the streets to protest the murder of Michael Brown, that they've come back with tear gas and rubber bullets?

They wrong. They wrong for that -- because if they system was put together better none of this would never happen. If the system wasn't as fucked up as it is, none of this would have happened. They don't think about the consequences we have, they don't think about the mothers, the family members who got to go home and mourn every day. Or have to wake up from nightmares from losing they kin folks or seeing pictures of they family laid out. They don't think about none of this. It's not even they problem cuz they like shit, we going home and our kids safe in the bed asleep. And they get a pass cuz they the police kids. Cuz if a police kid get pulled over they going to announce it like my father a sheriff or my father an officer and they going to look that shit up and they get a pass. But for all the people who don't got a chance to get a pass, what about them? What about them? C'mon man, that shit is wrong. It's hell and Ferguson took a stand and that was the best thing they could have ever done. And Chicago is here to represent.

One last question, if you had a message to the people of Ferguson, what would it be?

Keep standing up, don't let y'all guard down. Keep doing it and keep it up and keep doing it because I'm here to represent Dakota Bright.


And still no justice for Michael Brown.

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.