Michael Brown commemorated, Ferguson, USA people speak


By Zac Corrigan in the USA:

Voices from Ferguson, Missouri five years after the police murder of Michael Brown

22 August 2019

Five years ago this month, the attention of the world was focused on Ferguson, a small, working-class suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Night after night, workers and young people filled the streets to demand justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot at least six times and left to die on the concrete by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Scenes of riot police and National Guard troops in riot gear using military vehicles to attack peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas and arrest journalists will be remembered for decades as a symbol of the disdain of the ruling class for the lives and concerns of impoverished workers and youth.

Despite a wave of protests across the country—not to mention a damning autopsy which showed that Michael Brown was shot in the top of the head—a grand jury refused to indict Wilson and President Barrack Obama’s Justice Department declined to bring federal civil rights charges. Five years on, over five thousand more people have been killed by the police in the United States.

This week, World Socialist Web Site reporters returned to Florissant Avenue in Ferguson—the scene of the murder as well as the protests—to speak to residents about life in a country where the police kill with impunity to defend a capitalist social order based on historic levels of inequality.

Kelly, a mother of two adolescent sons, was at work at a barbershop on Florissant Avenue the day Brown was murdered. “We were working. It was a normal day. And yeah…then that happened.”

“The protests came a few days later. It wasn’t violent, it was a peaceful protest. I feel like it started to become violent, or it seemed violent, when they started bringing in all the troops. It made everyone tense and made them feel like they had to fight back,” she said.

She explained that the murder of Brown was just one more horrible injustice piled on top of a lifetime of injustices for Ferguson residents. “We’re angry because we don’t have that job, or we don’t have food in the house.”

Kelly

“I have a fifteen-year-old and a ten-year-old. Boys. [Comparing] when I was younger and now in the school systems, there’s a lot of things they don’t do for the children, as far as music, arts, even sports”, she said, adding, “and they’re taking away history itself! They’re not educating the children on what their real culture is. They aren’t teaching them about Martin Luther King, about what protesting is about, and what it’s really for… These kids don’t know what that is, and what it meant to the world!”

Kelly was incensed when WSWS reporters raised the ongoing campaign to erase murals from a high school in San Francisco, which depict the history of the United States including slavery and Native American genocide.

“Why do they coddle these people so much!” she exclaimed. “It’s horrible! If you hide that from your children, or from yourself, how will you be able to handle it when it comes in front of you? How will you be able to respond when you do see something like that? That’s a major part of life, to struggle. And I feel like that’s another reason why so many people are killing themselves, and [have] depression. At the end of the day, how do you know who you really are if you don’t know what made people stronger, and what made people fight harder?” she concluded.

Tremier Floyd, now thirty years old, remembers the suppression of the protests in 2014. “I was here a couple of nights. But I really didn’t want to stick around for what was about to go down,” he said.

“This was an area I frequented,” he explained. “I was very active in music and I was out here all the time with my own personal CDs [for sale]. I encountered the police in negative ways on many occasions, just for that alone. The treatment was really unnecessary.”

Tremier was in real danger. Less than a month before the killing of Brown, Eric Garner was choked to death by police officer Daniel Pantaleo while allegedly selling loose cigarettes on the street in Staten Island, New York. Alton Sterling was killed by police in 2016 as he was selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Tremier

Tremier said that the fact that police have killed 5,000 more people in the last five years “really shows how the average citizen is looked at in this country. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white—I mean, it matters, but not only black people are killed by the police. So, it just shows how much we mean to the higher-ups. Not enough. We don’t mean very much.”

Both Kelly and Tremier said that they didn’t see any point in appealing to the government to stop police killings or solve any other social problem.

“They don’t listen to us in the first place!” said Kelly, “So what is the point? They’re up there, and we’re down here. It’s just like in the corporate world. The President‘s up there sitting in his big office, and we’re down here making him more money.”

Tremier explained that the experience of Obama’s first term had taught him a lesson. “When I voted for Obama [in 2008] it was because of history—him making history, and us making history. So many young people went out and voted for Obama. But after time, we all figured out that he was just what all the others are. He’s a face. He’s a puppet. He’s a politician. He proved to not be what he said he was going to be. And that’s why I didn’t vote for him a second time.

WSWS reporters raised with Ferguson residents the emergence of working-class struggle around the world: the Yellow Vest protests in France; the wildcat strike of sweatshop workers in Matamoros, Mexico; the hundreds of thousands opposing government oppression in Hong Kong; the ouster by mass protest of two governors this month in the US territory of Puerto Rico. By and large, residents were not aware of these developments due to a general media blackout but were very excited to learn about these developments.

“We need to rise up!” Tremier explained. His message to workers internationally: “Keep pushing and keep fighting! We are the vast majority, and if we were to rise up, we would make a great change throughout the world. So, don’t give up.”

The author also recommends:

Five years after police murder of Michael Brown: Police have killed 5,000 Americans since Ferguson protests
[10 August 2019]

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Police killed Michael Brown, five years ago


This 17 August 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Ferguson, Missouri residents determined to fight police violence

In this video, St. Louis residents speak to the World Socialist Web Site about the implications of police violence amid the ongoing protests against police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Five years after police murder of Michael Brown

Police have killed 5,000 Americans since Ferguson protests

10 August 2019

Friday marked five years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including once through the top of the head, and left for four-and-a-half hours to die in the street by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s father, Michael Brown, Sr. used the grim anniversary to call for a reopening of the investigation into his son’s death. The killer cop has never been charged.

“Justice has not been served”, Brown, Sr. said at a press conference Friday morning outside the St. Louis County Justice Services Center, not far from where Michael Brown was killed. “My son deserved to live a full life. But a coward with a badge… chose not to value his life. My son was murdered in cold blood, with no remorse and no medical treatment.”

Brown’s killing on the afternoon of August 9, 2014 sparked popular protests in the small working class suburb of St. Louis, which were met with a paramilitary police occupation and deployment of the National Guard by a Democratic governor. The scenes of riot police with body armor and military grade weapons, backed by armored vehicles with mounted machine guns and military helicopters, facing down peacefully protesting men, women and children shocked the whole country and the world. Protestors were shot by rubber bullets, bean bags and flash bang grenades. More than a dozen journalists were arrested as they attempted to cover the police crackdown.

Despite volleys of tear gas and the imposition of a curfew, protests continued night after night, demanding that Wilson be charged and arrested for the murder of the African American teenager.

Four months later a grand jury delivered its decision not to indict Wilson, reigniting protests that were again met by a police crackdown and the deployment of more than a thousand National Guard troops. This was followed by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department announcement in March 2015 that it would not bring federal civil rights charges against Wilson, completing the whitewash of Brown’s murder.

The killing of Brown, along with the police murder of Eric Garner, choked to death less than a month earlier on Staten Island in New York City, sparked a nationwide wave of protests demanding an end to police violence. The popular slogans “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” and “I Can’t Breathe!” were taken up by crowds across the country protesting one police killing after another.

Despite popular protests and increased scrutiny in the aftermath of Brown’s killing, US police officers have continued to kill at a rate of more than 1,000 people every year, amounting to more than 5,000 since Brown was gunned down. According to data collected by Mapping Police Violence, police officers were charged in less than 2 percent of all 6,836 killings recorded between 2013 and 2018. In only 0.4 percent of cases (28) during this period was an officer charged, convicted and sentenced.

Police murders that have provoked significant protests since Brown’s death include:

  • The murder of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice (November 2014): Rice was shot within two seconds of police arriving at the park gazebo in Cleveland, Ohio where he was playing with a toy handgun. He died the following day in the hospital. Neither officer involved in the shooting was ever charged.

This 22 November 2019 video shows a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

  • The death of Freddie Gray (April 2015): Gray died after being given a “rough ride” in the back of a Baltimore police van. His killing sparked a social eruption that was suppressed by 2,000 National Guard soldiers. While six officers were charged in his death, none was convicted.

This 27 April 2015 video shows Freddie Gray being placed in the police van where he was killed.

  • The shooting death of Philando Castile (July 2016): Castile, 32, was shot and killed during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. His murder was live-streamed on social media by his girlfriend to the horror of millions. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was charged with second degree manslaughter but found not guilty at trial.

This 7 July 2016 video shows a Facebook live stream of the Philando Castile shooting.

  • Little more than a year later, on July 15, 2017, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed 40-year-old Justine Damond in the alley behind her home. Officer Mohammed Noor, who had fired his gun from the passenger seat of the squad car his partner was driving, was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced in April to 12.5 years in prison.
  • Stephon Clark was shot at least seven times, including multiple shots in the side and back, in his grandmother’s backyard by two Sacramento, California police officers on March 18, 2018. While Clark was holding only a cell phone, the district attorney declined to bring charges and determined that the officers were justified in using deadly force.

This March 2018 video shows police body camera footage of the shooting of Stephon Clark.

The reign of terror has continued this year with at least 544 people shot and killed by police, according to the latest tally by the Washington Post. Under Trump, the police operate without even the fig leaf of federal oversight provided by the Justice Department under Obama. Trump has counseled the police not to be “too nice” when arresting people. …

What unites all of those who are killed or wounded by the police is that they are working class or poor and among the most vulnerable elements in society, including the homeless and those suffering from mental illness.

Since the urban rebellions of the 1960s, police forces across the US have been militarized, with the establishment of SWAT teams and the deployment of armored vehicles to crush any sign of opposition from the working class. Under Obama, record amounts of weapons and equipment were doled out to local police forces by the Pentagon under its so-called 1033 program, which was established by another Democrat, President Bill Clinton.

The fundamental cause of endless police violence is the capitalist system, which the police operate to protect and serve, along with all of the dire conditions it produces for the working class—poverty, social inequality and war. Police killings can be fought only through the unification of the working class in the US and internationally, across all artificial racial, ethnic and national lines, in the fight for a socialist society based on human need and not the profit interests of a rapacious ruling elite, which controls the entire political system and both big business parties.

On Thursday, the Colorado Springs Police Department released bodycam video footage of the police murder of 19-year-old De’Von Bailey. By Friday, a police department spokesperson announced that the two officers responsible for his death will return to active duty, indicating that it is unlikely that any charges will be brought. Bailey was shot to death on August 3. He was the 537th person to be killed by police in the US in 2019, according to records collected by the Washington Post. Thirty-three more people have been killed by cops in the two weeks since his death, bringing the total up to 570: here.

USA: Police violence the sixth leading cause of death for young men: here.

St Louis, USA police and Ku Klux Klan


This video from the USA says about itself:

St. Louis Police Department Is Built On KKK Roots

16 October 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Tory Russel, the chief of staff to St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, about the troubling ties that the St. Louis PD has to the “Veiled Prophet Ball,” an event that has been linked to the Ku Klux Klan.

This video from the USA says about itself:

St. Louis Protests: What a Police Cover Up Looks Like

16 October 2017

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton spoke with Brother Anthony Shahid, a St. Louis resident who has pushed for transparency from police in the killing of 24-year-old African American Anthony Lamar Smith at the gun of white officer Jason Stockley.

Ku Klux Klan leader shot dead by wife: here.

St Louis, USA protests against police brutality


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

12 October 2017

The REAL reason St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson doesn’t care about cops arresting protesters and press. Cenk Uygur breaks it down on The Young Turks.

“On Tuesday, September 19, Mayor Lyda Krewson postponed her three remaining townhalls across the city. This followed four days of protests met with aggressive police force after the acquittal of former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Jason Stockley.

She wrote, “[Townhalls] are happening in the streets and in my inbox and on social media right now. We are listening.” Despite her assurances otherwise, many residents interpreted this as their mayor dodging venues meant to hold her accountable to their serious concerns and pain.

So, in this pivotal moment, if Mayor Krewson won’t listen to her constituents in townhalls, who is she listening to? Perhaps it’s her donors. After all, the protests financially impact many of them. For example, both St. Louis Union Station and its parent company Lodging Hospitality Management, which operates hotels and restaurants, made significant donations to Krewson during her campaign.

LHM’s leadership team spoke to the Post Dispatch about significant lost revenue from downtown concerts cancelled in response to the protests around the verdict. Bob O’Loughlin, Chairman and CEO of LHM, also told the Business Journal, “The most important thing is to mobilize the city, county and state to work to carry on with these events and provide safety for people going to them.” Here, it is worth also noting that O’Loughlin sits on the board of the St. Louis Police Foundation along with a handful of other Krewson donors”.

Read more here.

This video from Missouri in the USA today says about itself:

St. Louis Protests In Front of Ferguson Police Department

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton reports from St. Louis, Missouri.

St Louis USA police oppression


This 27 September 2017 video from Missouri in the USA is called St. Louis police suppress protests against police brutality.