Symbolism, Power and Justice in Ferguson, Missouri
The rebellion, protest and demonstrations against the brutal murder of Michael Brown have continued in Ferguson, Missouri. According to eye-witness accounts, Brown, an eighteen-year old resident of the area, was gunned down by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, on Saturday, August 9, 2014 while walking down the middle of the street.
The initial response of Fergusons’ mayor and police department was to deploy militarized police forces equipped with armored personnel carriers, full riot gear, assault rifles and tear gas. The community response was initially one of shock, disbelief, peaceful protest and righteous indignation. That quickly developed into much more militant and rebellious behavior after police taunting, insults and provocation.
Alarmed at the overwhelming national and international support for the family and community of Michael Brown, local officials and law enforcement attempted to intimidate and terrorize residents and supporters into submission.
Finally, President Obama intervened and delivered a dual-message of compassion for the residents of Ferguson, and a mild rebuke to its militarized police force. It was a feeble, but noble attempt to curb rebellion and restore confidence that justice would prevail.
Attorney General Eric Holder also issued statements indicating that the Justice Department would be involved in collecting data and evidence regarding Michael Browns murder.
Meanwhile, in spite of the military-type posturing and assaults, protesters and supporters continued to push their demands for the identity and arrest of the officer who shot Michael Brown.
Missouri Governor Nixon, no doubt taking a cue from public opinion and the obvious determination of the people, decided to order the Ferguson Police Department to stand down. He then conferred command jurisdiction to the Missouri state police, appointing Missouri State Police Captain Ronald Johnson as the point person.
Johnson, a Black/New Afrikan who grew up in Ferguson, Missouri attempted to deescalate the situation. Militarized police units were replaced with a more ‘Officer Friendly’ type of approach, with Johnson and other police speaking directly with protesters and in some instances, even protesting along side of them. The people however continued to press forward with their demands, particularly concerning the identity of the officer who killed Michael Brown.
They were not going to be deterred by images and symbols of justice or ‘Black faces in high places’, including the influx of professional civil-rights advocates and ‘peace police’ such as the Al Sharpton entourage.
The professional civil-rights advocates often time attempt to de-escalate situations not for public safety, but for the sake of advancing themselves as official spokesmen and representatives. They also attempt to strategically derail and hijack the genuine aspirations of the people for justice. Their mission, it seems, is to convince the families and communities affected by incidents of police violence and criminal injustice that their only recourse are the courts or appealing to a public official.
Well orchestrated and pre-approved marches and rallies have become their stock-in-trade with meaningless and powerless chants of “no justice, no peace’ accompanying every step.
In another strategic blunder and act of arrogance, officials of Ferguson, Missouri finally held a press conference announcing pig Darren Wilson as the murderer of Michael Brown. But, they also released a video depicting Michael Brown shoplifting a box of cigars from a convenience store a short time before he was shot.
The message received by Browns family and supporters was clear: the state of Missouri was now attempting to justify Browns death by implying that he deserved to be killed because he may have shoplifted a box of cigars. To no avail, the police chief of Ferguson made it clear that there was no actual evidence of a relationship between the two.
The community and supporters of Michael Brown responded with immediate outrage and mobilization. There have been several rallies and marches held from around the country and worldwide condemning the murder of Michael Brown, police militarization, arrest of media and the routine killing of Black people by the police.
Two recent autopsies (one conducted at the request of Michael Browns’ family) indicate that Mike Brown was shot over six (6) times, twice in the head. The U.S. justice department has announced that it is conducting a third autopsy.
Meanwhile, unable to restore so-called public order, even with Captain Johnson visibly in charge, officials in Missouri are now calling for the intervention of National Guard troops to patrol the streets.
The family, friends and supporters of Michael Brown are demanding and deserving of justice regarding his ruthless murder at the hands of pig Darren Wilson.
The community of Ferguson, Missouri deserves economic, political and social justice because of the decade’s long system of white-supremacy and neo-apartheid its majority Black/New Afrikan residents have endured.
The New Afrikan Independence Party (NAIP) supports the struggles in both arenas. Incomplete justice is no justice at all.
All Power to the People,
Khalid Raheem, Founder
New Afrikan Independence Party