Monday, June 17, 2019

The Forgotten Armenian Massacre

Nearly Five Years after the Events of Ferguson, Missouri.

In order to understand the legacy of Ferguson, you have to comprehend the facts about the life of Michael Brown Jr. He lived from May 20, 1996 to August 9, 2014. He had a family and friends. Normandy High School in St. Louis County was the place where he graduated from. After his graduation from high school, he had only 8 days left on Earth. He was 18 years old at 2014. He was known as a musician who posted his songs on Soundcloud under the handle of “Big Mike.” He wanted to focus on a training program for heating and air conditioning repair at Vatterrott College technical school. Darren Wilson was from Fort Worth, Texas. His parents divorced in 1898. Later, he worked at Jennings, Missouri and then he worked at Ferguson by October of 2011. August 4, 2019 was when everything would change forever. During the morning of that date, Michael Brown walked into Ferguson Market and Liquor at 1:13 am. He received a package of cigarillos from the store. By 11:47 am. Wilson received a call about a baby with breathing problems and drove to Glenark Drive, east of Canfield Drive. About three minutes later and several blocks away, Brown was recorded on camera stealing a box of Swisher cigars and forcefully shoving a Ferguson Market clerk. Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, left the market at about 11:54 a.m. At 11:53 am, a police dispatcher reported "stealing in progress" at the Ferguson Market and described the suspect as a black male wearing a white T-shirt running toward QuikTrip.

The suspect was reported as having stolen a box of Swisher cigars. At 11:57 am., the dispatch described the suspect as wearing a red St. Louis Cardinals hat, a white T-shirt, yellow socks, and khaki shorts, and that he was accompanied by another male. A little after noon, Wilson saw Michael Brown. Now, after this, many people differed on what happened next. Everyone agreed that, there was a struggle between Michael Brown and Wilson. Wilson shot at Brown’s hand. Later, Brown and Johnson fled and Johnson hid behind a car. Wilson pursued Brown. Later, Wilson fired his gun again while facing Brown and hit him with at least 6 shots. Brown was unarmed and died in the street. The debate is whether Michael Brown ran towards Wilson or was Brown running away. The killing of Michael Brown lasted for 90 seconds. No ambulance was called to retrieve Michael Brown’s body immediately. His family wasn’t immediately notified. The forensic investigator came at 2:30 pm. His body was taken to the morgue at 4:37 pm. while police cars, SWAT, and other forces were there hours before his body came into the morgue. The Ferguson Police Department came within minutes after the killing of Michael Brown. Michael Brown’s body being in the streets for hours was disrespectful. By August 11, 2014, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the incident. Some witnesses promoted Wilson’s account of Michael Brown running towards Wilson, and other witnesses dispute that account. The whole hand up, don’t shoot motto came from the view of those who believed that Michael Brown put his hands up just before he was shot. We should accept the truth involving this tragedy, but we can never accept the status quo. Regardless, we have to address police brutality, poverty, income inequality, racism, and lax investments in urban plus rural communities in order to see the Dream made real for humanity.

The rebellions didn’t start in Ferguson as a product of Michael Brown’s killing alone. It was building for years and decades after a long time of neglect, racism, discrimination, and economic exploitation of the mostly African American Ferguson community. By the time of August 10, 2014, the community of Ferguson was in mourning. People were upset, confused, and totally filled with sadness. Protesters came out immediately outside of the Ferguson Police Department on Sunday of August 10, 2014. Michael Brown’s uncle led a chant saying “We are one!” On that night, the rebellion started. It was the first major rebellion in America since the 1992 one in Los Angeles. Almost 300 police officers came on the scene. Crowds were stopped by tear gas. 32 arrests were made and 2 officers were injured. Buildings burned. Protests continued on Monday, August 11, 2014. Peaceful protests existed. Also on Monday night, clashes among the police and citizens developed. Rubber bullets were used on the crowds. Tear gas was used. The St. Louis County police used armored vehicles and SWAT units. There were militarized police which sparked outrage and debate as many people from across the police spectrum questioned the usage of militarized police. At least 5 people were arrested during that day. President Barack Obama on August 12, 2014 said a statement about the passions over the killing. He condemned the rebellion. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to Brown's family and community. Brown’s family and civil rights leaders called for calm. On that day, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson works to deal with the crisis. August 12 was when Al Sharpton goes to St. Louis to speak with the family of Michael Brown and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden are the parents of Michael Brown. On August 13, the police want the protesters to not gather after dark when protests have the First Amendment right to protest regardless of time. SWAT Teams come on the scene again. Many journalists and individuals document the military like presence in Ferguson. Later, innocent journalists would be arrested, police aimed guns at innocent citizens, and other evil conduct existed. On the night of August 13, 2014, one Al JazeeraTV crew reported on the demonstrations in Ferguson. Tear gas comes to them and they run away from them leaving their camera equipment behind. On the evening of August 13, the journalists named Ryan Reilly (of the Huffington Post) and Wesley Lowery (of the Washington Post) were detained by the police illegally in a McDonald’s restaurant in Ferguson.

By August 14, Governor Nixon allowed the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take over security plans in Ferguson. On August 14, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said in an op-ed in Time Magazine, that the event was a tragedy and that police forces need to be demilitarized. U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said that he was concerned about the police using military style equipment. President Barack Obama called for calm and allowed the Justice Department plus the FBI to investigate the killing of Michael Brown. A state of emergency and a curfew existed by Saturday on August 16, 2014. The curfew is from midnight to 5 am. SWAT deployed smoke based deterrents. 7 people were arrested. August 17 was when Holder wanted a medical examination of Brown by federal authorities. At night, Ferguson police harm peaceful protesters hours before curfew started. Many people used milk on the victims of tear gas attacks. Later on, Palestinian activists gave advice to Ferguson protesters on how to handle tear gas. Journalist Mustafa Hussein was a student journalist who was threatened at gunpoint by a police officer who didn’t want to be recorded on camera. On Monday, police officers are found to use LRAD weapons (or Long Range Acoustic Devices like sound weapons) and tear gas to suppress protesters. Amnesty International deplored this act and they sent a human rights team in Ferguson which was the first time they did so in America. The National Guard came to Ferguson.

Autopsy information comes out. Protests exist nationwide from California to New York City. Ferguson residents feel heartbreak and frustration over the incident. A Pew Research Center Survey published on August 18 suggested differences in American public opinion between white people and black people. It indicated 80% of black Americans and 37% of white Americans believed the shooting "raises important issues about race." Eric Holder came into Ferguson at August 18, 2014. Holder met with the Brown family and local officials. The National Guard leaves Ferguson on August 21, 2014. On August 24, St. Louis held their annual Peace Fest, which had a particular focus on Mike Brown. In attendance was Mike Brown's father, Mike Brown Sr., as well as the parents of Trayvon Martin (an unarmed black teen who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012). August 25, 2014 was when the emotional funeral was held for Michael Brown. About 4,500 people attended it at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Ferguson. Al Sharpton made the wrong comment about some having “ghetto pity” parties. People standing up aren’t having pity parties. They are fighting for revolutionary change. For a time, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson was asked to take over policing of Ferguson, as a tactical shift to reduce the violence.

As time goes onward, the legal system continues. Wilson by September 16 is in hiding. He testified before the grand jury. On October 24, 2014, Amnesty International published a report declaring human rights abuses in Ferguson. The report cited the use of lethal force in Brown's death, racial discrimination and excessive use of police force, imposition of restrictions on the rights to protest, intimidation of protesters, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and long range acoustic devices, restrictions imposed on the media covering the protests, and lack of accountability for law enforcement policing protests. Governor Nixon on November 11, 2014 mobilized the National Guard in preparing to the grand jury’s verdict. Michael Brown’s father wants only peaceful demonstrations. By November 25, 2014, the grand jury decides not to indict Darren Wilson. Protests and rebellion occur. Protests transpired in 170 cities over the grand jury announcements in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Seattle, Albuquerque, New York City, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, etc. Numerous media reports and legal experts criticized the process for failing to return an indictment in cases concerning law enforcement officers. By December 1, 2014, President Barack Obama called for police officers to wear body cameras to record interactions with people. The cover of The New Yorker's January 26, 2015, issue depicted Martin Luther King Jr. linking arms with Eric Garner and Wenjian Liu, and joined by Trayvon Martin and Brown. On March 4, 2015, another historical event happened. This was when the reports from the U.S. Department of Justice that talked about Ferguson were released to the public. The first report said that Darren Wilson was cleared of criminal wrongdoing and said that Brown probably did attack Wilson inside his car. Many disagreed with that first report obviously. The second report is what many conservatives disagreed with. The second report accurately mentioned that the Ferguson police department (where Wilson worked at) had a culture of racism, discrimination, and it unconstitutionally targeted black people from arrests, fines, and jail. It documented tons of evidence and sources to prove that point. 2 cops were shot by March 12, 2015. Demonstrations happened in Ferguson to mark the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s passing. Peaceful protests existed in front of the St. Louis courthouse to desire the Ferguson police department to be dismantled. Wesley Bell became the first black county prosecuting attorney in the St. Louis County when he took office in January of 2019. After the 2014-2015 events in Ferguson, movements further formed and other tragic events in New York City, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and other places in the United States of America show how far we have to go in ending the system of oppression. In the final analysis, we don't want unarmed black people to be killed. We don't want police brutality. We desire our communities to develop and flourish.

By Timothy