United States: Anger erupts over yet another Black teen killing

Thursday, August 14, 2014
Militarised police on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the August 9 police killing unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown. Photo via Boing Boing.

Another African American teenager has been murdered by the police in the United States, sparking angry protests and police repression.

In Ferguson, Missouri, a generally quiet working-class community was shattered by the August 9 shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown as he went to visit his grandmother.

Police had been called after reports of shoplifting from a local corner store. Brown was walking down the street when he was told to “Get on the fucking pavement”.

A scuffle followed, leading to Brown being shot nine times. Brown joined a growing list of young Black men murdered by police in the United States.

The body of Brown, who had recently finished high school and was about to enter community college, was left in the street for hours after his death. He was 18-years-old.

Within minutes of the killing becoming known, members of the community gathered at the scene of the crime. Outrage was building.

This was a young man who had done nothing wrong. He had gone to school and was going to college, and was respected in his community. Yet he was still died for the crime of being a young Black man in the “Land of the Free”.

The community gathered, shouting at the police, mocking them with cries of “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot”. More police filled the streets, blocked the roads.

Police soon filled the area, with cops begin pulled in from every district to quash any possible dissent. This only infuriated the community more.

The next day, the community held a vigil to honour Brown. This was followed by a protest in which the community rallied against the armed police who were now patrolling Ferguson's streets.

Local councillor Charles Dooley, a Black Democrat, appealed to the protesters to return home. In response, he was booed and jeered off the platform and the demonstration continued.

More police moved in, including militarised SWAT teams and riot police. The protesters stood their ground as police advanced.

By 8pm, some of young African Americans had begun rioting, attacking police cars and looting stores. More than 30 rioters were arrested.

This caused a flurry of media activity, condemning not the e murderous police but the enraged youths who damaged some property. The context — that the entire existence of these young people has been criminalised and they are seemingly subject to extra-judicial execution with no consequences — has been ingored.

The next day, August 11, the protesters again returned, calling for the police officer who killed Brown to be charged and tried. Cries of “stop the killer cops” and calls to disarm the police were met with tear gas and repression from lines of assembled police officers.

The media was barred from entering the area as the police sought to smash the demonstrations.

By August 13, angry protests were continuing, as was police repression, including tear gassing crowds. A protester who allegedly drew a handgun was shot and critically injured by police.

Michael Brown was too young to die, killed by a racist establishment that has, for all intents and purposes, legalised the murder of Black youths.

However, there is strong resistance. It can be seen in the protests by angry community members who will not accept another death at the hands of the police. It can be seen in the public outcry and solidarity from people around the US who have seen similar violence in their own communities.

The message is loud and clear: disarm the racist cops and try the murderers. Most importantly, build a world where Black teenagers can walk the street safe from persecution and fear.

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From GLW issue 1021