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.”
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.