St. Louis Police Murder Black Teenager
Mansur Ball-Bey—People Take to the Streets and Defy Police Assault

August 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

St. Louis, August 19

Protesting the police murder of Mansur Ball-Bey. (Photo: Chuck Modi)

St. Louis, police murder of Mansur Ball-Bey

Photo: Special to Revolution/

On Wednesday, August 19, midday, St. Louis police raided a house in the north St. Louis neighborhood of Fountain Park. Within minutes 18-year-old Mansur Ball-Bey was gunned down dead in the front yard of the house next door. Autopsy showed Mansur was shot in the back. Within hours, hundreds of people from the neighborhood defiantly took the streets, soon joined by protesters rushing over from where they had been marking the one-year anniversary of the police murder of Kajieme Powell, a blatant execution of a disoriented man caught on video. St. Louis police turned the Fountain Park neighborhood into a war zone. But people did not back down and protests continued for hours.

As we arrived in the neighborhood the following evening, people were gathering and protesting on the corner of busy Page Avenue. Some were standing in the street with signs visible to passing motorists: “Cops Are Gang Members with Badges” and “Welcome to the Police State! Your Tax Dollars Paid for Death.”

Family members spoke movingly about Mansur Ball-Bey and bitterly about his killing and the cover-up. Immediately after the police killed Mansur, media began pumping out the official police story that claimed Mansur was armed, fleeing from a drug and guns raid, and the police shot him in self-defense after Mansur threatened them with a gun. Family and neighbors spoke angrily and knowingly about how the police assassinate the victim twice—first his body and then his reputation and memory—in order to justify the killing. As people remembered Mansur, there was unmistakably a lot of love and affection for Mansur along with the pain of loss: “He was a good person... He had a job... He was very funny and was respectful... He had on his work uniform [UPS uniform] when they shot him... He’d cut the grass over here and for his grandmother around the corner.” Near the memorial with stuffed animals, Mansur’s graduation picture and his senior prom picture were displayed. Mansur had just graduated from a high school in Ferguson, and he lived in a nearby North County suburb. Another family member told us, “He came over here because his cousin was having a video shoot. That was it! He’s never been in trouble.”

St. Louis August 2015

St. LouisSt. Louis

Photos: Special to Revolution/

Roughly 200 people gathered on the sidewalk and in the street in front of where Mansur was murdered and where his family lived. Family and friends spoke with great anguish and sadness, bitterness and a palpable searching for answers. A grandmother scolded the youths for having guns and fighting each other, which as she sees it enables the police to kill youths Another person spoke to the reality that police don’t need justification, pointing out how police plant guns on youths. The man said he tries not to hate anyone, but he hates the police. An elder denounced what she called “destruction by design.” A woman repeated over and over, “What’s the next step?” One person asked, “When will they be accountable for what they do? Do we have to keep all our kids in the house? Police come here every day, harassing us every day.”

A woman achingly spoke to the gathered crowd about losing her sons to the street life despite doing all she could to raise them right, leaving a question hanging in the air: “Who is to blame?” This question of how to understand the connection between violence among the youth and what the cops and system inflict upon Black people was an acute and present question. A few miles away in Ferguson at the same time, a vigil was being held for nine-year-old Jamyla Bolden, who was tragically killed by gunshots in her home two days earlier while doing her homework. People held a vigil at Jamyla's house and then marched a few blocks to the Mike Brown memorial, and many then came to Fountain Park for Mansur’s vigil and a protest following it.

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In the hours following the police murder of Mansur the previous night, hundreds from the neighborhood angrily and defiantly took to the streets, many of them teenagers. As one protester described it, “At first the people from the neighborhood were so infuriated they confronted police and forced them to leave the ‘crime scene’... People were already in the street when protesters from the Kajieme Powell protest arrived.” People chanted, “Fuck the police” and “No justice, no peace.”

The police attacked viciously, but people refused to be intimidated and swept off the street. A CopWatch activist said: “Last night was like Nazi Germany. There was this rat-a-tat-tat of police hitting the ground with their clubs telling us to move. But people know what’s up. Mike Brown, Samuel DuBose, Tamir Rice... people across the country are tired.” The police rolled into the neighborhood like an occupation army, with rows of riot police and two armored vehicles rapid firing gas canisters and projectiles. Soon there were clouds of tear gas choking kids on their front porches. People talked about how toxic the tear gas was. People were vomiting, one person passed out, others reportedly went to the hospital emergency room. Police shot people with rubber bullets. People were chased down side streets by armored vehicles firing tear gas. Nine people were reported arrested as people just watching on the sidelines were grabbed and arrested. The police treated people as if they were in enemy territory. The next day residents could be seen hosing down yellow tear gas residue from the streets.

The following night, after the vigil for Mansur, about 100 people took to the streets again, marching from the vigil site to the Central West End (a district of upscale restaurants across the “Delmar divide,” which separates north and south St. Louis). Protesters shut down an intersection chanting, “We don’t get no justice, they don’t get no peace” and “Fuck the police!”

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Ten days after the one-year anniversary of the police murder of Mike Brown, pigs have once again murdered a Black teenager in cold blood. The Mike Brown anniversary was marked by defiance and protest, as well as vicious repression and an attempt by the powers-that-be to reverse the verdict on the Ferguson rebellion and in particular to win people especially in the middle strata to support the clampdown against the defiant youth. Both in the streets on the anniversary and in the streets over the last nights following Mansur Ball-Bey's murder, IT WAS, AND IS, RIGHT TO REBEL AGAINST POLICE MURDER. The authorities have double-downed, as represented both in the murder of Mansur Ball-Bey on the anniversary of the murder of Kajieme Powell as well as in the military-style response to people righteously standing up. And again there is controversy, including within the movement, over how to look at the youth, who grow up with no future and a big fat target on their backs, when they raise their heads and refuse to accept a life of brutality, prison, and often murder that awaits them.

People need to recognize the stakes of what is concentrated here. The call for Rise Up October, as well as the call to connect with the movement for revolution, has begun to get out and address the question raised at the Thursday night vigil—What is the next step?” It needs to get out more broadly and more deeply, and right now.

UPDATE: In the wake of the police murder of Mansur Ball-Bey, St. Louis authorities are clearly worried and acting on two tracks. The autopsy, partially released on August 21, blew a big hole in the police version of events, particularly the revelation that Mansur was shot in the back and collapsed immediately. The Circuit Attorney called a major press conference, with a NAACP leader at her side, talking about how everything will be done to get to the full truth and pointing to the role of the new Police Force Investigation Unit and the new Civilian Review Board, supposed reforms established following the Ferguson rebellion a year ago. At the same time, it was announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol has been put on stand-by to deal with protests now and when the decision on the murder of Mansur Ball-Bey is released. No criticism of the now-exposed lies of the police, including by Police Chief Sam Dotson, about the killing of Mansur. No admission that all this would have been fully covered up and buried without people rising up. No criticism of the violent and vicious assault on people unleashed Wednesday night.


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