Voices from Ferguson: "It needs to be more done"; "It's a beautiful thing that people are showing solidarity"; "Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cop to Jail"

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


"It needs to be more done"

On Wednesday, August 20, there was a demonstration at the county courthouse where the Grand Jury is convening in the case of the killing of Michael Brown. After the protest I talked to a young Black man who is from Ferguson. He started by talking about his own experience with the police:

Back in 1999, two police officers picked my brother up at the house and the next morning he was found dead in front of a church. Ain't nothing ever happened of it, they said it was drug-related and blah, blah, blah. They just swept it under the rug like they do everything else. So I'm a witness of what these officers do. And you know there are a lot of people out here who think that these officers don't do these type of things—it just should be, there should be something that says we as citizens should be able to protect ourselves against them because they just flat out killing us. I heard there's supposed to be a purge on Black Americans—a purge where a white American is shooting down Black Americans and since that been heard that there have been murders everywhere by cops. I'm saying this is what they do, this is what they do. It's like this is a sport for them.

Have you been out on West Florissant?

Yes, I'm heading back out there right now.

What do you think about the way they've been coming down with all the tear gas and the National Guard now and everything?

It's nonsense, it's like straight nonsense because I was out there the night they said they were getting thrown Molotov cocktails at, I was right up front, nobody thrown nothing at them.

Was this up at the Quick Trip or down by the Market?

Down by the Market. Didn't nobody throw nothing at them. They fired off rounds and then people started picking up canisters and throwing them back and then they just instantly started firing [tear gas].

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

This is the night they started the tear gas ip[before the curfew. I was out there and then they moved everybody up towards the Quick Trip.

Last night they was literally sticking people and there's a lot of news reporters was hurt too, they cameras and stuff messed up.

By the police?

Yeah by the police. I can show you a clip where they knocked over all the news equipment.

Can you send it to me so I can put it up at revcom.us?

Yeah, I will give you my Facebook page where it is.

So tell me what happened last night?

It was basically the same thing. They say you violating they rules but they making the rules as you go along. Like they say you can stand right here, then five minutes later they say you can't stand there. If you speak your opinion and they don't like it, they rush you, throw you to the ground, flat out. I haven't been arrested. It don't matter, it's for the cause but it's like you shouldn't be arrested. They trying to arrest everybody for speaking they opinion.

To me this ain't enough, walking the corners. It needs to be more done. To me, they laughing at us cause they up there and all of a sudden they can't do bleep, we running.

I can respect your opinion that more needs to be done because we still haven't seen justice for Michael Brown. What do you think about these self-described "peace keepers" out there telling people to calm down, go home, respect the curfew....

They paid activists, by the police to control the crowd. Everybody's paid. You see what I'm saying. Everybody's paid, except the people. So you got all these modes set in place to make everything look like what it's not.

They are a disruption. They paid to be a disruption. To take the focus off of this case and put it on something else. Like they reported last night they caught the guys with three guns, but they didn't report about the four white guys they caught with the guns, they didn't put that in the news. There's a big difference. So they try to make certain things look good and a lot of things look bad.

But it's not against the law to have no gun. If they catch you with a gun, they lock you up. But it's not against the law to have no weapon. And how you gonna be calm? That just like something happen to their child or something like that and somebody tell them "Oh, don't worry about it, just sweep it under the rug, we'll find 'em." Come on man. And then they gotta look for the person, they send him on vacation with pay, the killer cop, the kid-killer.

They out here using us for target practice right now, you know what I'm saying. And there's only one thing for us to do—it's getting to the point where we're going to die anyway, so why not fight back.


"It's a beautiful thing that people are showing solidarity"

I asked these two women from St. Louis why they had come out to protest.

Woman #1: We came out here to show our support for the family and to also let people know an injustice has been done and we will not be silent about it—that a young man was wrongfully killed and there was no reason for that to happen.

Woman #2: I do agree with her. We are here to show our support not only to the family but for the community—that Black lives do matter, that we are people, we are here. He was wrongfully murdered, which is not right. Do we have to fear for every Black man's young life or Black woman or any minority? We all need to stick together and make sure this doesn't happen again. We are family, we are one, we are St. Louis.

One thing I wanted to ask you about is that a lot of press from around the world are here to cover this. And there have also been like at least 80 demonstrations around the country in support of the struggle for justice in Ferguson. And one of the things that's being run out there is attacking the so-called "outside people" coming in. What do you think about this?

Woman #1: I think that it's a beautiful thing that people are showing solidarity with our community because if it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us. We need to have this sense of community throughout the country, throughout the world. We very much appreciate people from around the world—I heard about Istanbul. They have had a protest at a soccer game. We very much appreciate the people in Gaza, supporting, giving us information and advice on how to handle the tear gas when the police have been militarized during a peaceful protest... We very much appreciate people coming out to show their support because it very much warms our heart knowing that this is not going unnoticed because it's been happening for way too long... Not just in Ferguson, it's been happening in New York, in California, all these cities throughout the country—Black men have been facing police brutality, just not Black men, Black women also, just people of color as well.

You mentioned this thing of people in Gaza giving advice about how to deal with tear gas. Can you explain more about this?

Woman #1: It was on Twitter. They were saying: Solidarity with Ferguson. We understand how it feels to be targeted because of your ethnicity or of your race. They were telling us not to use water, use milk to get out the tear gas. If you stand closer, they're more likely to not throw the tear gas at you because they will not want to get tear gassed as well.

I was at the press conference that the governor and police captain Ron Johnson did a couple of days ago and I asked them to explain why the whole press conference was about controlling the protesters and not about getting justice for Michael Brown. What do you think about them tear gassing people and all that, and now bringing in the National Guard?

Woman #1: I think that is very unfortunate because police should not be necessarily militarize because we are staging peaceful protests and then you bring in these things that just agitate the protesters and this needs to be about getting justice for Michael Brown and all the other countless other Black men and women who have been victimized by police brutality. And if you keep turning it toward the protesters you getting people to focus on what's not happening and we need to focus on getting justice for Michael.

Woman #2: I definitely agree with what she just said because with the police militarizing everything, they are almost making us want to turn violent. There are a few of us who are unfortunately violent and it's not shedding light to our situation in a positive way at all. The media will show what they want to show, it picks up ratings so therefore they show the violent side, not the peaceful side... Like you said, they shouldn't focus on how to control the protestors. You need to focus on how to let your police treat our people, treat everyone with respect and to equally practice our rights as humans to peacefully assemble and not hurt anybody but to just show that we want justice.


"Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cop to Jail"

This woman protestor really liked one of the chants the revolutionaries out on W. Florissant were leading.

I see you like the chant, "Indict, convict, send the killer cop to jail. The whole damn system is guilty!" Why?

Because it sums it all up... from beginning to end. Indict, convict him, send him to jail and this whole system needs to be redone. It's just this is setup. This is an old system. They need to go back and redo all these laws. They need to get all these people that's targeting people.

I feel like if people would look at everything that happens and put a loved one in the place, think about your child and think about your child laying in the middle of the street with a bullet hole through their head. And then I think you would probably see where those parents are coming from.

You know, it's just—it's crazy. I think it's absurd that we even have to stand here and ask them to do what's right, you know?

To indict the cop?

To indict him. To let him go to court. That's the whole point of the court system, of the system that they have in place, is so that someone can determine did he do something wrong? And you won't even allow that system, you won't even, you know, indict him so that it can be determined whether he did something wrong. The fact that you won't deny it—that they won't even indict him says something about the system. Something is wrong. You don't trust the system that you put in place to make a determination as to whether or not this man has done something wrong? That's the question.


And still no justice for Michael Brown.

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