Reporter's Notebook from Ferguson

"There has been continuous harassment of the youth"

September 11, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


A reporter for Revolution/ was with the crew of revolutionaries who went out to talk to people in Ferguson on August 29.  The following is from an interview with a woman who lives in the neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed:


[On the day Michael Brown was shot] a couple of us pulled over because the stepfather was standing there with a sign, “police just executed my son.” So I walked down with the Channel 4 guy; he said “I'm scared, can I walk with you?” I said “Sure.” He said there might be a riot–the word “riot” came up and it wasn't even 80 people out here. And so when they brought in the dogs and everything, we were just standing there. There were St. Louis cops standing there with an M16, they had submachine guns – there wasn't even a hundred people. Then they started coming down with dogs. And I was standing next to Mike Brown's cousin, and whatever people who weren't afraid to come down.  

That's the second time –I saw another boy gunned down in the street. He was from over here. He got shot behind Sam's Meat Market right here. He laid there and they charged him with assault on an officer and he lived. But they put a sheet over him–it's been less than a year. He was shot by Ferguson police officers – they put a sheet over him like he was dead. He was not dead. We were standing there and they were covering it up. Just like they tried to cover this up.

They tried to put his body in their car. Now, how many other times have they done that? But too many people started coming. And everybody started putting it on Facebook and more and more people came. And they literally called the dogs on us while everybody was just standing there. That boy laid there. His mother was on her knees crying. Not one paramedic touched him. There was an RN there. They told her to get back. How do we know he was dead?

Just like that other boy, they wanted him to die too, but he didn't die, him, he ran to the end of the building. They shot him a couple times and they charged him with all kind of felonies and assault against an officer. And they wouldn't let anybody back there and that's what happened. And that's been less than a year ago. He's in jail now.

It's ongoing, there was a 13-year-old that got choked out. So it's been a history. Ferguson does have a couple of cops that live in the neighborhood, people know them, they don't harass them. But (the police) they do harass the youth. This is not the first person killed and this is not the first person shot by them. And that's why they blatantly did it in the daytime, because they been doing it and they figured “we can get away with it again.”

But it's been going on a long time. If they pulled the records of how many minorities have been shot within the past year or two years by Ferguson police I bet they would see something, but nobody has talked about that. And I have literally seen with my own two eyes, two shootings.

What do people face here on a daily basis from law enforcement?

On a daily basis, truthfully speaking there has been continuous harassment of the youth here. I personally know of two teenagers under the age of 16 – one got arrested and taken to the Ferguson police station, ok and these are minority children I'm speaking of – just for laughing. Because the cop pulled up on ‘em really quick. Same way that witnesses have said this officer did. Pulls up on the kids not just to harass, but to instill fear in them, very early on. So that fear is instilled in them so that they know “oh, here they come.” So the kids are being arrested, they're being harassed, if you're a racial minority, and it happens mostly to the younger people in the community.

I read a report that police here have a program of harassment where they ticket people and then arrest them and then jail them for warrants for unpaid fines.

And it could have to do with code enforcement, for housing, like a house that needs work and get fines, and they have a warrant. Warrants for traffic tickets, for code enforcement, they charge ‘em five or  six thousand dollars. How are they every going to pay that, and if they don't they lock you up. I would say 95 % is Black. This is not just in Ferguson, it is in St. Anne and in Hazelwood, where they beat a guy to death about two years ago and they said “oh he was on drugs,” and they swept it under the rug. And Hazelwood has one or two Black officers. And then there was another young man downtown that was also killed by the police week before last. And there was the mentally disabled man last week.

Nothing much has changed – in regards to police murder, incarceration, having felonies placed upon them. Can't vote if you have felonies. Can't get a job. So they arrest them, give ‘em felonies, some that are first time offenders, some that are innocent. And you have to have a lot of money to try to fight the system, which most of the time people don't have. I have a son who is incarcerated and another son who is fighting a case in California.

People stood up. And said they're tired, and we're not going to take it anymore. You're not going to just kill our kids. And they're so many witnesses –some of the witnesses are scared. So many recordings. When I was standing there a lady told me that when the cop shot him, he reached out the car and grabbed him by his neck. He shot him in the chest, and then he got out of his car, stood over him after he had been shot a few times, and shot two more times. These are the things the media won't tell. Everybody is saying the same and I really believe that. She had tears in her eyes. And I saw how he just laid there like an animal in the street, and his mother was on her knees and his whole family was crying. And they kept pushing ‘em back. They didn't wanted anybody to see. They didn't want anybody to know what really happened. That's why they didn't let anybody near.

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