Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meanwhile, in Missouri…

Hi, y’all.

I’ve been busy offline, but you had to know that I’d be back to write about the events taking place in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. 

Last night, Ferguson was filled with more protests…more teargas, rubber bullets, and the violent arrest of at least two journalists and one St. Louis city Alderman. As I write this, Alderman Antonio French is still being held in a Ferguson jail.

I woke up this morning pondering one of my favorite quotes…

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
― Aeschylus

Shall we?

I am a St. Louisan.

I grew up here…left for college as soon as my ass could…and then I moved back in my 30’s to be close to my family.

St. Louis is my home…all of it…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This past Saturday, 18 year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. Ferguson is a suburb of St. Louis city, just north of where I live. Michael Brown was unarmed. Witnesses report that he had his hands up and told the police that he did not have a gun…and then he was shot dead.

What has followed the killing of Michael Brown is a public demonstration of oppression – racism, abuse of power, denial of the right to assemble, and denial of freedom of the press, all wrapped up in one horrific happening.

I’m disgusted…alarmed, fearful, and angry. 

But I am not surprised.

This level of disdain and disrespect aimed at certain communities within the metro area ain’t breaking news for folk who live here. Thisis business as usual.

This is our America.

Where people of color are harassed for walking down neighborhood streets… Where far too many of those charged to protect and serve call us animals, pull us over for the crime of driving while black, use teargas against peaceful demonstrators, and muster in our neighborhoods prepared to shoot first and then play the odds that no one will bother with questions later.

It is important to note that St. Louis County and Ferguson authorities are well aware that the whole world is watching.

They know that national and international journalists are on the ground covering this story.

Yet, here we are…watching unarmed residents confronted by teargas, tanks, rubber bullets…tools used by a ragtag wanna-be army of police officers against the very population whose tax dollars pay their salary.

A lot of people are asking…if this is what the police do when the whole world is watching, what do they do when they think no one is watching?

The answer? They do whatever the hell they want to do.

After watching what has followed the shooting of Michael Brown, it isn’t hard to believe that a police officer approached two teens walking home without cause…it isn’t a stretch to believe that the shooting that followed was an overreaction, because it appears that hyper-aggressive overreactions are par for the course in Ferguson.

The takes us back to this being business as usual…to a history of unchecked authority, escalating harassment, and a total lack of accountability.

People are angry. We’ve been angry. We expect the killing of Michael Brown to go unanswered by a system unfamiliar with justice. Folk are condition to anticipate another sorta-investigation…another sensational trial (if there is a trial), complete with a strategic change of location to anywhere but North County and an artfully selected jury that will then hand down yet another free pass that sends the message to hunt at will.

After the events of the last five days, how the hell is anyone supposed to trust St. Louis County officials to find justice for Michael Brown? 

Right now, I doubt they even know the definition of the word.


My condolences go out to the family of Michael Brown. May they find comfort in his memory, and may he rest in peace. 


Anonymous said...

I grew up blocks from here. I lived in NoCo my whole life, and I am not surprised at all. I cannot believe how my friends are pretending like this is all news-- it's not, and it has been this way since I was a kid. The ONLY thing surprising about this whole fiasco is the level of denial my white friends were living in.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I've got nothing to add. Thank you for this brilliant piece of writing.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Dellwood, next to Ferguson. My parents still live there. I moved away when I graduated from college. I’m not surprised at recent events. I was afraid of the police when I lived there and I’m white. The police have always done what they want and have had an attitude of superiority. I never experienced anything close to the recent tragic events. My heart goes out to the Brown family.

RIleysdtr said...

The only "news" is how the first several nights have received yawms from much of the media and political establishment. I am sickened... but thank God for the extensive coverage of North West's first baby modeling contract. If Twitter did not exist I'd have no clue what was going on. When al Jazeera America has boots on the ground to cover this, where the @#%^*%()& is Brian Williams? Anderson Cooper? Diane Sawyer? Bob Modela? Anyone?

Laura said...

Lovely, thoughtful post, as always. I've been thinking about you and praying for your community. Praying for us all.

Roberto Jose said...

MSNBC, people in twittersphere and the blogosphere seem to be covering this with the attention, concern and yes, reverence (for Mr. Brown's family) it deserves - and as we sit back - shock and awed and turning to prayer to calm the sinking feelings of anger and despair I can't help but wonder - where do we as a nation go from here? Why are the number one stories on the internet and news channels still a concern for whether or not POTUS and Hil hugged in Martha's Vineyard over mimosas? Why isn't the National Guard of Missouri being nationalized and these armed bruts being challenged? Sigh. The times they are a changing...uh... aren't they?!

dinthebeast said...

Thank you for writing about this.
It's giving me flashbacks of Oscar Grant, but it's hard to tell what to believe based on my usual news sources. I find your take on the expected "justice" to be sad, accurate, and troubling. If we don't expect justice, we're less likely to get any, but what else can we think when they do the same damn thing every time.

-Doug in Oakland

Anonymous said...

Here's your 'change'.

brian said...

Anywhere in America... Thanks for the loan of Mr. we have the Republican convention.

Beyond-The-Spectrum said...

An insightful read.

Ferguson, Missouri – Enough is Enough!

quixote said...

I just saw a comment somewhere that one of the reporters on the ground (Wesley Lowery? sp?) who was arrested for reporting "should have obeyed the cops in a riot zone."

No. Illegal orders don't have to be obeyed. And following orders is no excuse for committing crimes. There was this thing called the Nuremburg Trials a while back on that very topic.

And yet it's like the whole entitled part of the country has collective amnesia about that. Might makes right and they think that's a good thing. Just do what the guy in the most riot gear tells you.

I hope the good people at the sharp end of these horrible events can force justice back into the mix. We're all doomed without it.

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