I try to stay away from stuff like this on an “official” level. There’s so much social unrest and lack of justice, to only comment on one event would be a disservice to the countless others that came before it (and will come after it). I’ve always seen it as my position to entertain, to share information and “cool shit” as a way to find a reason to smile in the face of events that would prevent us from doing so. However, this past weekend’s events concerning Mike Brown have led to wards a level of disgusting police militarization and exploitation of power that I can’t just stand back and not say something about it. The thing is, while your social network feeds may be full of updates coming from Ferguson, MO, there are still plenty of people in the country who simply aren’t aware of what’s happening thanks to a media blackout of coverage. I have a platform where I can reach people who may not be aware, so why not use it to spread awareness?
Last Saturday, a young man named Mike Brown was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, MO after putting his hands up to surrender. The details are still blurry as to what elevated the confrontation to that height, but the fact remains that an unarmed black man who was surrendering was shot dead by an officer. The fallout of the killing exploded, with no real justice being delivered by the people put in power to serve it. Even to this day, five days after the shooting, officials have refused to release the name of the officer who pulled the trigger, on-site witnesses have yet to be interviewed by the police department, and the complete lack of a proper investigation into the unfortunate end of this man’s life has still not taken place.
As unfortunate as it is to say, the majority of you reading this come from Chicago, a city that knows its fair share of gun violence and police brutality. While not every murder and shooting receives national coverage, Chicago is still the third largest city in the country, and we will still receive our fair share of attention that a small town like Ferguson, MO never would have. Here’s the discrepancy: Mike Brown’s killing honestly would have gone unknown had it not been for independent entities like Al-Jazeera and Anonymous helping spread the news, but it took peaceful protest, peaceful demonstration to alert the country of the injustice he and his family have faced. Even then, as I pointed out earlier, there will still be many people who will go through their day still unaware of what’s happened.
My point in writing this is two-fold. One, it’s to bring general awareness to the events that have taken place in Ferguson, MO since the weekend. You may not consider yourself political, you may not feel comfortable getting involved with events that are so deeply rooted in racial tension, you may not even want to even focus on such negativity (and really, who can blame you?). However, what these police officers have shown to us transcends race, transcends politics, transcends basic human treatment, transcends our rights as Americans.
Two, it’s to show that these police officers are exploiting their power and acting above the law. Journalists and members of the press have a right known as Freedom of the Press, and as such, we’re given the right to share and communicate our information across outlets without interference from those in charge. Yet, as I watched live streams of last night’s events, members of the media were being blacked out, being told to shut off their cameras. In the video a few paragraphs above, you can see a canister of tear gas shot at members of Al-Jazeera as they were setting up their equipment. We can’t allow these attempts of covering up happen. We can’t stand idle during this.
The preceding video is what put me over the edge. Shot on site of a protest in a Ferguson neighborhood, you can see demonstrators simply chanting. Yet, as the police approached closer and closer and as demonstrators held their ground, the police began to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, which you can see around the nine minute mark. As it dispersed, the police continued to draw closer, shooting into residential neighborhoods. I’ve taken part in protests over the years, but never have I been witness to such despicableness. The “official word” from the Ferguson police department is that shots were fired or protestors were throwing molotov cocktails, to which the police began shooting in response. I call bullshit.
We have to show our support. Whether it’s a simple tweet, sharing videos, calling Missouri state officials, attending protests, whatever it is, we have to stand up against these atrocities and share awareness with those around us. Like I wrote earlier, I’ve always seen my position at Ruby Hornet as one to simply entertain, and I will continue to do so after this is published. Will I (or RH as a whole) cover real events in the future? I don’t know. However, what I do know is that I couldn’t just sit around and write about the release date of the new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers release date or something so largely asinine while something of real substance was taking place around us.
If you live in a major city, peaceful protests are scheduled to take place today. Look below on the flyer for more information about them in your city.