On Saturday, August 9, an all-too familiar incident took place in Missouri. Another unarmed young African-American man was murdered in cold blood by a cop. Most of us had never heard of Ferguson but soon it was on the lips of people – both in the U.S. and around the world.
An African American man murdered by a cop, is not a new story. It followed the same script as the murder of other young African-American men like Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford and many others in the Bay Area and around the country. The cop murders an unarmed man. The cop is put on leave, continues to get paid and often leaves town. After dragging out an investigation, no charges are filed. This time, in Ferguson, the cop might be charged. Even if he is, this is not justice. Michael Brown is dead.
Now, after years of repeating the official line on these murders, the mainstream media says there is a pattern. From 2006 to 2012, at least two African-Americans were killed by a cop each week. Other studies say the rate is higher. This is not news. The cops are used to subjugate and terrorize people.
What was Michael Brown’s crime? Walking in the street! We can only imagine the exchange between this white cop and a young African-American man – ordering him to get off the street. And when Michael Brown didn’t bow down to his authority, the cop shot him at least six times.
The outrage didn’t stop there. Michael Brown was left to die in the street with no medical aid. And his body was left there for at least four hours! This was an official lynching – just like the bodies of young Black men hanging from a tree for all to see some decades ago – with the same racist message.
People took to the streets and were met with the same force that Michael Brown faced. Day after day police forces from the area and the National Guard were mobilized against the population, turning Ferguson into a war zone. The invading forces, outfitted with high-tech battle gear, moved in with massive weaponry. They terrorized those in the streets and in their homes, with armored vehicles, flash grenades, tear gas, bean bag guns, sound cannons, rubber bullets and live ammunition.
This show of force was not enough to cause people to quietly retreat. The rage that exists across this society erupted in this small town. The crisis that is daily life for so many – the poverty, the unemployment, the foreclosures, the drugs, the hopelessness that dominates so many lives burst out on the streets of Ferguson.
Ferguson is not alone. Cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Oakland are symbols of the crisis this system has imposed on so many. And the racism of this society means that the impact of the crisis hits African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other minority groups the hardest. The cops and the prisons exist to enforce these conditions.
So, it should come as no surprise that we would see a rebellion like we have seen in Ferguson. It is long overdue. And it has resonated across the nation – giving voice to those who have suffered under this system for too long. And it has shaken the authority of those who maintain this order.
The officials who run this society for the 1% have rushed in to quell the unrest. They claimed “outsiders” were responsible for the explosion in the streets. Who are the majority of cops, the state police, National Guard and FBI? They are the outsiders. They tried to blame Michael Brown, claiming he had taken some cigars from a store and had small traces of marijuana in his blood. Eric Holder, Obama’s Attorney General, flew in, assuring that an investigation will be held.
We don’t need their investigation. This murder is an indictment of their whole system – a system that values the wealth of a few over the well being of the majority, a murderous system that doesn’t value life.
People’s refusal to quietly accept this murder is a step toward finding a solution. The solution lies with us, the working class, taking action to defend our rights and our lives, to rise above the racism that is pushed on us and unite our forces – in the streets, on the job and throughout the society.