Last Saturday, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black man from Ferguson, Missouri was executed by a police officer while walking in his neighborhood, on his way to visit his grandmother. Brown was shot multiple while his hands were raised, making him at least the 4th unarmed Black man killed by police this month alone! Since then, there has been a massive militarized police crackdown on peaceful protesters, with the streets of Ferguson looking more like occupied Palestine than an American city (see here, here, and here).
For multiple nights officers in military camouflage and gear, carrying riot shields, assault and high powered rifles, and flanked by armored personnel carriers have fired tear gas, rubber bullets and other “less-lethal” ammunition at peaceful protesters ask well as local and national media personnel (here, and here). Multiple reporters have been arrested for being in the area and the airspace above Ferguson declared a No-Fly Zone for media helicopters (here).
Now, Ferguson police are engaging in a media campaign to assassinate Brown’s character by releasing stills of a robbery alleged to have occurred shortly before his murder. We reject this attempt to justify the murder of an unarmed teen, as we rejected the attempts to assassinate the character of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant, and so many others victims of extrajudicial killings. Further, Ferguson Police Chief Jackson has admitted that Brown was accosted for jaywalking and not in connection with the alleged robbery. Regardless, Officer Darren Wilson had no right to be judge, jury, and executioner.
People on the ground in St. Louis are calling for people across the country to stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri as they stand up to demand justice for Mike Brown and all victims of extrajudicial killings and an End to Police Violence Everywhere.
The crisis in Ferguson offers a clear picture of the deeply rooted White Supremacy and Militarism of police forces all across the United States, including our state. Thanks to the work of the Malcolm X Grassroots movement, it is now widely known that a Black man, woman or child is killed by police and other state sanctioned security, including vigilantes Every 28 Hours! The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also recently released an extensive study of the militarization of state and local police forces, documenting the vast growth of extremely repressive military tactics and equipment used on communities of color.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently released it’s first study on officer use of deadly force, documenting 234 incidents statewide between 2007 and 2011 (with only 295 of 396 law enforcement agencies responding). Of those 234 incidents, 108 (46%) of the suspects fired at by police were Black, obviously disproportionate for the population.
These police killings across the country and the violent crackdown on Ferguson community members protesting the everyday devaluing of Black life in the United States is facilitated by the War on Drugs and mass incarceration—the New Jim Crow—and a direct result of a racist and economically unjust system that cannot be reformed, but must be changed! We call on people everywhere to stand with Ferguson and communities in every city facing police violence and occupation! We are participating in the National Day of Action on Aug. 16 to End Police Violence in Ferguson and Everywhere- Join us at the Walnut St. Bridge at 8:00 pm to demonstrate that we will no longer allow the police to kill and abuse Black folks on our streets, from Ferguson to Chattanooga!