Monday, August 25, 2014

Where will the next Ferguson uprising take place?

By Charles Brooks

Michael Brown has finally been laid to rest after he was gunned down two weeks ago by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th.  You can only imagine what his parents, family, friends and those who knew him – have gone through in the last two weeks since that fateful day on August 9th.  Just like that, after an encounter with the police, his parents now have to deal with the grief and numbing sadness that comes with having to bury their 18 year old son.

Who would have thought or even have the foresight to see Michael Brown's murder – the death of yet another unarmed black youth by the hands of a police officer – as the trigger to a rebellious uprising in Ferguson? Who would have believed Brown’s death would peel back another scab of American hypocrisy for all to witness the bubbling infectious sore of American apartheid, racism, and social inequality?  Ferguson has clearly become a flashpoint where racial frustrations and deep seated tensions were unleashed in the face of aggressive and provocative policing.  Within hours after  Brown’s murder, the state response to the rebellious uprising quickly escalated into a domestic military operation – complete with the deployment of the National Guard.

There were several forces at work causing tensions to quickly flare up igniting widespread anger and frustration.   

For one, Mr. Brown’s dead and lifeless body laid in a pool of blood for at least four hours – in full public display.  The typical mistrust mushroomed into fears of an apparent cover up as the police provided the public very little or conflicting information while withholding other pieces of critical information.  For six days, the public was forced to wait before finding out the identity of the assailant police officer, Darren Wilson. We're told the public had to wait because of concerns around the “fear of his safety”.  Yet, Officer Wilson remains free, and in hiding. Meanwhile, for days as Ferguson smoldered from the tear gas and flames - critical questions were left unanswered: How many times he was shot? Where was he shot? “Why did Officer Wilson stop Michael Brown? What does the incident report say? What does the forensic and autopsy reports say? 

As key questions were left unanswered, two developments were emerging in the midst of this campaign of misinformation. There was the campaign designed to demonize and criminalize  Brown in order to build a narrative that ultimately justifies Officer Wilson’s kill shot. Meanwhile protesters were confronted with a militarized police force, a state imposed curfew and the National Guard. What happened next was bound to happen – fierce opposition that escalated into a rebellious uprising. As more and more of these acts of police brutality come to light and vigorously defended by political leadership, these moments can quickly escalate into a social upheaval.

As we see these police brutality incidents over and over again – we are also bearing witness to a unapologetic dismissal of one’s humanity.  Consider the video of Eric Garner’s desperate  plea for the officers to recognize his humanity, that was denied.  In Brown’s death – we saw an unsecured crime scene, an uncovered dead body in a pool of blood - in the summer heat like cattle. And that is the typical trigger in these cases of police brutality – the failure to see Black people as human beings who are equally deserving of the same human rights as anyone else. This is the core difference that defines the racial divide in how whites and Blacks view the police in general, and in particular, the murder of Michael Brown. In this country, most white communities have a far different view and relationship with the police compared to black communities. 

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  1. Once again, very concise, and well explained, as well as great writing. 100 years from now someone can read this and get a clear picture of what the times were.

  2. They kill our young and then lie about it because they are cowards. The only reason that that officer shot and killed Michael Brown was because he felt offended. Michael dared to challenge that officer when he ordered Michael to "get on the f**king sidewalk. Michael was like "Why you have to disrespect me like that?" and the officer felt offended that Michael dared to question him. Dared to challenge him. Of course after the horror was done people tried to make it about the incident in a store (which is highly suspect) but we all know why Michael was really killed. How dare him talk back to his superior. We know why Michael was killed Darren, you liar.