Ferguson Fights Back

Mandy Stickles, Opinion Assistant Editor

Riots and protests break out in Ferguson — the aftermath to a questionable death of a young man at the hands of the police.

On Saturday, August 9, Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown several times resulting in Brown’s death. The officer is now under investigation by the St. Louis Police.

According to Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown’s, the pair were walking in the street when Officer Wilson pulled up to them and shouted for them to get onto the sidewalk. Johnson explained that they were close to their destination and they would be out of the way soon. Wilson proceeded to drive away just to stop and reverse his vehicle back to Brown and Johnson.

Officer Wilson pulled up so close to the men that when he tried to get out of his vehicle Wilson’s door ricocheted back at him keeping him in his vehicle. Johnson reported that Officer Wilson then went to grab Brown. During the tussle Officer Wilson pulled out his gun firing and hitting Brown. Brown managed to get out of the officers grip and proceeded to run away with Johnson. Another shot was then fired, hitting Brown again. The unarmed Brown began to turn around with his hands up in the air; however Officer Wilson fired several more shots, killing Brown.

“We wasn’t committing any crime, bringing no harm to nobody, but my friend was murdered in cold blood,” Johnson reported to KMOV with Central News Network (CNN).

Two more witnesses that saw the altercation between Officer Wilson and Brown came forward telling their side of the story to CNN. Both of their statements aligned with Johnson’s report.

As outsiders, it is difficult to be convinced by the statements of the witnesses and a friend of the victim over the report of a police officer. However, when all three witnesses report a similar series of events, the validity becomes more harder to question. Unfortunately, Michael Brown will not get the opportunity to share his side of the story as Officer Wilson has taken that away in addition to Brown’s life.

The Ferguson residents are frustrated with how little the police force considers the lives of the citizens they are sworn to protect. The community is fighting back, carrying out peaceful marches and protests against the shooting. They do not want another young life (or any life for that matter) to be taken. Since the protests began, the police force has decided to take some violent action resulting in multiple acts of police brutality.

“The death of Michael Brown and the aggressive police response to the demonstrations that followed have sparked a national conversation about race and law enforcement. Now that much of the national media has moved on — a point that was repeatedly made by speaker after speaker at a rally in a nearby park on Saturday [August, 30] — activists are working on channeling the anger exposed in the wake of Brown’s death into concrete changes to policing tactics in the St. Louis region,” said Ryan J. Reilly, a social justice reporter for Huffington Post.

Police seem to be having a difficult time handling the Ferguson protests and are beginning to step out of line while trying to ‘keep the peace’. There are reports that police are firing rubber bullets, throwing tear gas, and arresting people if they do not do what they are told immediately. It appears the police force believes they have all the power and that they can do whatever they feel is necessary.

Ferguson protesters refuse to stand by as the threat increases. As of now there are a recorded five people suing the Missouri police for around $40 million. These five were arrested at a protest and are claiming wrongful treatment when the police showed, “militaristic displays of force and weaponry.” Some were hit with rubber bullets and/or tear gas and another simply claimed she was arrested because she did not ‘shut up’ when the police officer told her to.

“This is a blatant example of how police handle African-Americans…how it can go terribly, terribly wrong. You have a right to peaceful assembly,” said Reginald Greene, the attorney in charge of the five lawsuits.

Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy. Unfortunately, he is not the only citizen to have been mistreated by the Ferguson police. Countless African-Americans are wrongfully perceived by law enforcement — and not just in Ferguson. Low income areas all around America are subjected to the same cruel treatment, and it is not improving. The fact that a life has been lost should be an eye opener that police brutality is not only a common but a fatal occurrence in Black America.