Socialist Worker

Ferguson: rage as cop who killed Michael Brown is cleared

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2431

Protesting the grand jury decision in Chicago

Protesting the grand jury decision in Chicago (Pic: AndrewReillyFlickr)


Protests erupted across the US at the news that Darren Wilson, the white cop who shot 18 year old Michael Brown dead in Ferguson, St Louis, in August will not face trial.

Thousands filled the streets of Ferguson on Monday night outraged that the officer who killed the unarmed black man will walk free. Buildings and cars were torched. 

“It’s about time people stood up and spoke out,” Alan Joplin a teacher and pastor in St Louis told Socialist Worker. 

“I had no faith in the judicial system in this city in the past. I have no faith in it now.” 

Riot cops responded with a brutal crackdown. They even invaded safe havens that churches and community groups set up for protesters who wanted to avoid any violence. 

Police teargassed those sheltering inside St John’s church. One church member said, “They came into our only safe space with assault rifles.”  

Hundreds of National Guard troops and over 100 FBI agents are out on the streets of Ferguson. 

But the local police force, which employs Wilson and has only three black officers out of 53 in a community over two thirds black, is not being mobilised. 

Alan said it is time for resistance. “Black people have been shot and killed, beaten and arrested unjustly by police and no one has spoken out,” he said. 

Solidarity protests broke out in cities across the US. In New York protesters blocked three city bridges. In Oakland, California they took over a main motorway. 

Law

President Barack Obama declared that people had to accept the decision as the US was a “nation built on the rule of law”. 

But for millions in the US this means the right of the police to murder young black men. Black men are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than whites. 

Anger spilled into the streets of Oakland, California, where protesters took over a main motorway

Anger spilled into the streets of Oakland, California, where protesters took over a main motorway (Pic: AmirAzizFlickr)


Grand jury transcripts show contradictions between Wilson’s claims and witness accounts. Wilson claimed Michael assaulted and injured him, hitting him “over ten times”.

He said Michael grabbed his gun and leaned into the car “over three times”. 

But video shows Wilson leaving the police station just two hours after the shooting with no signs of injury. 

The Brown family’s lawyers said, “Information was leaked from within the police department that Wilson was severely beaten and suffered an orbital eye socket ‘blowout,’ indicating that Michael Brown somehow deserved to die. 

“From the video released today it would appear the initial descriptions of his injuries were exaggerated.” 

Wilson claimed there was a sustained confrontation. Yet a witness tweeted they had just seen Michael shot dead a minute after Wilson first radioed saying he’d seen Michael. 

Several witnesses said it was Wilson who tried to pull Michael into the car as he tried to get away. 

Behind

One eyewitness described Wilson shooting as he got out of the car, saying Michael’s “body jerked as if he was hit from behind, and he turned around and he put his hands up. ...The cop continued to fire until he just dropped down to the ground.” 

Two autopsies show the fatal shot went through the top of Michael’s head as if he was falling forward.  

Wilson claims he was in fear for his life, but Michael had no weapon and was four times further away than the 35 feet the police claimed. 

Protesting in New York

Protesting in New York (Pic: EventPhotosNYCFlickr)


The shooting of a young black man in the US is all too common. In the month before Michael was killed four black men had already been shot dead. 

St Louis police shot 25 year old Kajieme Powell dead ten days later. And just last Sunday police shot 12 year old Tamir Rice dead on a playground swing in Cleveland as he played with a toy gun. 

The US state is seeped in a long history of racism. 

The conviction of former Black Panther Albert Woodfox was quashed after 43 years last week. He was one of the Angola Three prisoners convicted after a racist trial. 

Michael’s case is symbolic for millions sick of racism and police violence. 

Alan said, “Michael Brown became the rallying point for a lot of pent up anger. Sometimes there has to be a Nat Turner moment,” referring to a violent slave revolt. 

“Today’s youth and young adults will not stand for it. At some point we had to stand up and move our cause to the next level. I pray each day that their fight will not be in vain.”

Justice for Mike Brown - Emergency Protest
5.30pm, Wednesday 26 November, US embassy, 24 Grosvenor SquareLondon W1A 2LQ.

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