Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Never Forget Ferguson.

It has been more than three years since the passing of the Brother Michael Brown in 2014. He passed away in Ferguson, Missouri, which is a suburb of the city of St. Louis. Afterwards, the rebellion existed in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, the NAACP sent an advisory warning to Missouri because of Missouri's policies dealing with race. Missouri is a Midwestern state once controlled by the French (centuries ago) and it has experienced the Civil War, segregation, covenant policies (which harmed the housing rights of black people), urban renewal (or corporate people using building projects as an excuse to displace poor and black residents), and other evils. St. Louis has a long history of discrimination so much that some view it as a Southern city. Likewise, dedicated activists have fought for freedom in Ferguson, in St. Louis and throughout Missouri too. By the 1940's and the 1950’s, Ferguson was a mostly white “sundown town” (according to the writer James Loewen). White flight came and Ferguson became mostly African American by the 1980's. Racial profiling existed in Ferguson too. The Ferguson rebellion signified the largest rebellion in American history since the LA rebellion back in 1992. During the rebellion, innocent journalists and innocent protesters were arrested, civil liberties were violated, and courageous people stood up against the evils in the system. The events of Ferguson document how police brutality and economic inequality including racism are serious realities that we must deal with in order to make society liberated for all. The events of Ferguson inspired a whole new generation of young people to be active in social and political affairs. The Black Lives Matter movement and other movements for social change grew. Unfortunately, police killings of unarmed black people continued from Eric Garner to other people. The DOJ documented the corrupt actions of the Ferguson police department too. It is also important to address class oppression since society is heavily stratified based upon class. People not only need jobs. People deserve respect and equitable treatment under the law. Society must change (change deals with protests and developing our infrastructure including progressive programs in addressing our issues and helping our communities. At the end of the day, people not only need cameras, but living wages, universal health care, the elimination of discriminatory policies, strong educational services, and investments in community growth). What transpired in Ferguson back in 2014 outlined a new era of the black freedom movement and we are continuing to stand up for our rights as well.

In order to get the history of Ferguson right, we have to show the events chronologically. It all started with Michael Brown. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and a friend walked down the street. Michael Brown encountered Officer Darren Wilson. Later, Darren Wilson shoots and kills Michael Brown at 12:01 pm. on August 9, 2014. Michael Brown was unarmed and he was hit with 6 shots. It would be hours until a medical examiner comes to the scene. For hours, Michael Brown’s body was left in the street lifeless. Also, many protesters raised their hands up and said, “Don’t shoot us” to officers in the night of August 9. On August 10, 2014, the St. Louis County Police Joe Belmar said that Michael Brown assaulted the officer and tried to reach for the officer’s gun. This has been disputed by the supporters of Michael Brown. The Brown family get the retain attorney Benjamin Crump who once represented the family of Trayvon Martin. By night time, a candlelight vigil to respect Brown existed. Soon, the rebellion happened with a dozen businesses being vandalized and harmed. More than 30 people were arrested and 2 cops suffered injuries according to the police. By August 11, school was canceled in Jennings, which is near Ferguson, for safety reasons. Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Ferguson Police Department to desire justice. 7 people were arrested at 10 am. The FBI announced their own investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. The parents of Michael Brown and the attorney of the family demand justice and want an end to violence by 4 pm. Community members and leader meet and pray at a meeting hosted by the NAACP.

By 8 pm, many people gather on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson and the police used tear gas against people. Militarized police existed. By August 12, 2014, more people are arrested. Protesters issued a list of demands involving the investigation of the killing of Michael Brown. Rev. Al Sharpton arrived in St. Louis to speak with the family of Michael Brown. Sharpton and the Brown family spoke on the Old Courthouse steps early Tuesday afternoon. An early autopsy is released by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office. President Barack Obama released a statement announcing that the Justice Department will review police tactics across the nation. Ironically, both the Republicans and the Democrats executed policies that advanced the mass incarceration state, militarized police, and other neoliberal policies. Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Mayor, and other leaders talked about the Brown case. In a separate public meeting, Rev. Al Sharpton and the Brown family desire a peaceful fight for justice involving Michael Brown. Dorian Johnson came forward as an eyewitness to the Brown shooting. All eyewitnesses will give diverse accounts of what has happened and these accounts are debated to this very day. On August 13, 2014, many want a vigil to take place during the day. Many volunteers start to clean the city up. The Justice Department opened a federal civil rights investigation in dealing with the Ferguson shooting. By the night, the police continue to use tear gas to be used against protesters. The Al Jazeera America crew ran because of the tear gas. The police illegally detained 2 reporters (one from the Huffington Post and another from the Washington Post) at a Ferguson McDonald’s. Governor Jay Nixon decided to go into Ferguson. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was also arrested on that day for “unlawful assembly.” At August 12, 2014, City Alderman Antonio French was released from jail without formal charges and posting bond. Governor Nixon visited north St. Louis County and Ferguson. President Obama called for calm and local police to be open and transparent in their investigation. The Governor made the Missouri Highway Patrol to control security in Ferguson. It is overseen by Captain Ron Johnson, who was born and raised near the community of Ferguson. Nationwide, silent vigils were held to honor the memory of Michael Brown. By the evening and nighttime, hundreds of citizens have marched along with state troopers. No violent clashes existed.

On August 15, 2014, Darren Wilson was revealed as the person who shot and killed Michael Brown. The family of Michael Brown defended their son. Rev. Jesse Jackson came into Ferguson to led prayer and nonviolent protest promotion. This was on Friday. By nighttime, more than 200 protesters came out. Tear gas is used. Rocks were thrown. On August 16, 2014, some stores close. Governor Nixon issued a state of emergency of Ferguson and a curfew is instituted. On August 17, 2014, more arrested came. Many activists opposed the unconstitutional “Five second rule” which allowed Ferguson cops to arrest protesters who stayed in one place for more than five seconds. People successfully ended that illegal policy by lawsuit. Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal criticized Governor Jay Nixon over his response to the events in Ferguson.  Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a separate federal autopsy for Brown at the request of his family. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner's autopsy concluded that Brown died of gunshot wounds, but other details have not been released. The rebellion continued. A private autopsy requested by Brown's family found that he was shot at least six times, including four times in the right arm and twice in the head, The New York Times reported. On August 18, 2014, Governor Nixon ordered the National Guard into Ferguson after the rebellion from last night. Michael Brown’s family hired a pathologist to perform its autopsy on Brown’s body. The curfew is lifted. President Barack Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder to monitor Ferguson. Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was arrested Monday while reporting in Ferguson. He was later released. "I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job," Olson told Pancho Bernasconi, vice president of news at Getty Images. Sybrina Fulton wrote a heartbreaking letter to the family of Michael Brown. It was published in TIME magazine. The letter says that she wished that thing will be fine, but the truth is that she can only pray as their lives are changed forever. At night, the police use tear gas at protesters. On August 19, 2014, rebellions happened. Lesley McSpadden (or Michael Brown’s mother) spoke on the Today Show to mention the goal of finding justice for her son.  "When justice is prevailed, then maybe they'll regain their trust in the locals." Another 23 year old man with a knife was killed by the police. On August 20, 2014, protests continued. A grand jury started to see if Darren Wilson should be charged with the death of Michael Brown. Eric Holder goes into Ferguson for ongoing investigations into civil rights violations related to the shooting. He said that:  "I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man," he told community members.

On August 21, 2014, 150 protesters walked around Ferguson’s West Florissant Avenue. The Missouri National Guard started to leave Ferguson by this time. On August 22, 2014, tensions decline as Missouri State Patrol Captain Ron Johnson has said. Protesters go onto the roadway. By August 23, 2014, the day is quite as many reactionaries and pro-police zealots send money to Wilson. Fundraisers exist for the Brown family as well. The NAACP held a peaceful protest in Ferguson. Debates continue about militarized police and the events of Ferguson. On August 24, there is a private viewing of Brown’s body. Michael Brown Sr. wanted no protests on the day of his son’s funeral. He desires peace. On Sunday, he promotes the Peace Fest 2014 in Forest Park in St. Louis. This meeting was hosted by Trayvon Martin Foundation and Better Family Life. Brown’s parents along with the families of Martin and Grant were there too. African Americans in Missouri called for the resignation of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. The funeral takes place on August 25, 2014 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. Darren Wilson testified before a grand jury on September 16. Later, there was the four day peaceful protest called Ferguson October. Many people investigate the death of another black teenage named Vonderrit Myers Jr. On October 13, 2014, police arrested clergy and activist academic Cornel West during Ferguson October. This is part of the Moral Monday movement too. On November 11, 2014, Governor Nixon prepared the National Guard in case another rebellion happens after the grand jury released its decision. On November 13, 2014, Michael Brown Jr. and Lesley McSpadden traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to testify before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. They were part of a human rights group created by the New York and Atlanta based U.S. Human Rights Network. Michael Brown Sr. called for peaceful gathering regardless of the outcome of the grand jury. On November 24, 2014, the grand jury decided to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for firing six shots at Michael Brown which killed him. Protests existed. A police car and stores were set on fire. Gunfire existed. The next day, documents are released about the grand jury decision. Protests continue in the snow and Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on November 29, 2014. President Barack Obama on December 1, 2014 hosted a meeting about Ferguson. It included many civil rights, youth, community, and faith leader including police leaders in the Oval Office. The federal government wanted to spend $75 million on body cameras for law enforcement. On December 11, 2014, Oakland had protests after the grand jury refuses to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner. On December 13, 2014, a march on Washington, D.C. came about in calling for judicial reform, body cameras on cops, etc. to exist. The Justice for All march opposed police brutality and racial injustice. By December 19, 2014, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch admitted that he believed multiple witnesses lied under oath while testifying before the grand jury that previously heard Brown’s case. One day after December 25, 2014, residents rebuilt a memorial of Michael Brown after a car destroyed the remembrance. By December 28, 2014, Ferguson Public Information Officer Timothy Zoll was placed on unpaid leave after reportedly making dismissive comments about a memorial for Brown.

On March 3, 2015, the Department of Justice released its accurate, 103 page report documenting the Ferguson Police Department using racial profiling, police brutality, and economic exploitation against the residents of Ferguson. Unreasonable use of force against African American suspects has been documented in this historic report.  In 88% of cases in which Ferguson police documented the use of force, for example, that force was used against African Americans. In essence, the report told the truth that there was a practice of disproportionate stops and arrest of black people without probable cause, there was unreasonable force used, there were racially biased handling of warrants by municipal courts, and there was the police using revenue from poor and black residents for exploitative purposes. On March 4, 2015, the DOJ refused to charge Wilson of civil rights violations. On March 9, 2015, Ferguson municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned. The DOJ reported exposed him as being involved in the scheme to get revenue for Ferguson by issuing unnecessary citations, especially to African Americans. The circuit court controls municipal court cases in Ferguson. By March 10, 2015, John Shaw (or city manager) resigned. He was mentioned in the DOJ report too as presiding over a corrupt court system aggressively fining black residents in order to get money. On March 11, Chief Jackson resigned effective March 19th. On March 12, 2 cops were shot in Ferguson. On April 7, 2015, voters in Ferguson elected two black city council members, transforming the political body's racial composition after months of protests over racial profiling and police brutality. The council has one sitting black member already. This is the first time that blacks have controlled half of the council, despite the fact that two-thirds of the city's 21,000 residents are black human beings. On April 23, 2015, Michael Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, former police chief Thomas Jackson and former officer Darren Wilson. The suit challenges the explanation of the shooting presented by Wilson, who resigned from the force four months after the August confrontation. Police Chief Tom Jackson leaves his job and a black interim police chief existed on July 22, 2015. On August 8, 2015, the Ferguson community continued to fight for community development. One year later on August 9, 2015, a protest exists. Gunfire existed and armored vehicles came about in the streets. Also, it is important to cite the leaders involved in the Ferguson movement for change.  Ashley Yates and Tef Poe (who is a hip hop artist) was there in Ferguson from day one. The Universal African Peoples Organization, Show me 15, Youth Activists STL, Darren Seals, Peacekeepers, Disciples for Justice, Don’t Shoot Coalition, Dhoruba Shakur, Jobs with Justice, and other coalitions of activists used action in the areas also.   Brittany Packnett, Antoinette Carroll, Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie were involved in Ferguson protests. Religious clergy like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, , and Rev. Renita Lamkin confronted injustice too in Ferguson.  The Black Lives Matter movement was there too from Patrisse Cullors, Tanya Bernard, Jamilah Lemiuex, Damon Turner, Anthony Johnson, and other people. Lawyers, labor rights activists, and scholars joined together in opposing police tyranny. The Organization for Black Struggle was on the ground with resources to help communities. Now, the truth is known and we will continue to fight for the liberation of our black people. Yes, Black Lives Matter.

By Timothy

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