If protests are supposed to last a maximum of three days, demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., and nearby St. Louis must seem like a lifetime to those tired of the noise, the disruption, the anger, the focus on and monitoring of law enforcement agencies and political leaders.
It has been nearly three months since the body of 18-year-old Mike Brown lay in the streets of Ferguson and police responded with dogs, heavy weapons and a determination to put down a 21st century slave rebellion. But the overreaction of police departments with tear gas, percussion grenades, rubber bullets, armored vehicles and video of officers threatening to kill protestors has fueled outrage and an unwillingness to simply go away and be quiet.
Young Black people demanding the indictment of Darren Wilson, the White officer who shot the unarmed teenager to death in an encounter allegedly sparked by jaywalking, have disturbed the psyche of a nation with an addiction to ignoring and miscasting the reality of race inside “the world’s greatest democracy.”
Justice for Mike Brown has trended on Twitter, dominated news coverage at times and brought a barrage of articles, insights, videos and lectures. “I Am Mike Brown” is a cry echoed across the country and now appropriated by many who wish to question some American injustice but who were largely invisible and silent before the boldness and tenacity of Black youth forced America to pay attention.
Yet for all the attention, the country doesn’t seem to be learning many lessons.
In St. Louis County, Mo., where a secret grand jury is supposedly at work trying to determine whether officer Wilson should face charges, and in Washington, D.C., where the federal government is supposed to be looking into whether civil rights violations occurred, there have been leaks to the media about the case.
The leaks, conventional wisdom and mainstream media reports say, are supposedly attempts to seed the public with the reality that officer Wilson will not be indicted. The anonymous leaks, mainstream media and its analysts of anonymous reports insist, favor the officer’s version of what happened. The testimony leads to the conclusion that officer Wilson was afraid for his life and fired because of a reasonable fear, they say. But their arguments are weak given the distance between where the officer stood and where Mike Brown was shot. The “justifiable homicide” explanation would have us believe that young Brown, who was shot during an altercation with the officer at the cop’s vehicle, ran, stopped, turned around and charged the officer. This specter of a big Black brute or fear of a big, Black menace might play to White sensibilities, fantasies and fears but it tears at the heart of Black America and rips open 400-year-old wounds tied to the murder of Black men and women.
It says once again, there is no justice for us inside America and any explanation, no matter how convoluted, will do to protect White police officers, White lives, White privilege and systemic White oppression.
It says once again that the media is complicit in and a partner in the great White protection racket, no matter how it tries to hide behind a mask of objectivity and fairness. Indeed, if anything is fair in this equation it is the fierce determination to protect the fair-skinned and fair-haired.
Assurances are made from the county prosecutor, who refused to step aside for a special prosecutor, that the secret grand jury proceeding is intact despite the leaks. The leaks aren’t actually coming from the grand jury, insists prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who was asked to step aside by Black activists and thousands who signed petitions. He has refused to step aside and the governor and Democratic candidate for country executive stood by his side.
Meanwhile police departments in the area and others across the country are preparing for outbreaks, if no indictment comes. There is a strong suspicion and a strong belief among many that a decision has been made and its public announcement will come after Nov. 4 elections.
Delaying any non-indictment until after the elections won’t do anything for public order, though it may serve the interests of politicians, who perhaps felt such an outcome could have energized Black voters in the state and across the country. Perhaps there was a fear Blacks would respond in huge numbers to all those seen as political enemies and supporters of an unjust system.
The well-founded and accurate belief that an unjust system is at work won’t dissipate simply because the word is delayed. The problem is a continued denial of justice and a continued failure to recognize Black lives matter. If justice fails to be delivered in Ferguson, what will happen? Will we see blood flowing in the streets of Missouri? Will we see cities under siege not only in America but across the country?
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan warned in a major address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago that Ferguson, Mo., is a sign of dangerous conditions that exist in American cities.
“Now all the police forces are being given weapons that are only used in military theaters of war. So when you see the police armed like they are: That’s not to ‘serve and protect,’ that is to kill. Look at the military force that came against the people in Missouri. When I looked in the faces of those police, you could see the hate in their eyes. And in one video captured by CNN, a police officer was standing there, saying: ‘Bring it, all you f-ing animals! Bring it!’ They have a desire to kill us wholesale,” the Minister warned.
The truth of repeated warnings from Min. Farrakhan is coming true before our eyes and eyes must stay trained on Ferguson. If those in power persist in their wicked ways, the denial of justice in Ferguson could ignite a racial firestorm that will engulf the country. Once that spark is lit, will there be any way to put it out?