by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Though not in so many words, the media predict the Grand Jury has already decided that Darren Wilson, the cop who killed Black Ferguson teenager Mike Brown, will get a slap on the wrist and may even completely walk after the Aug. 9 cold blooded murder that has led to civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, ever since. While the mainstream media hypes up the fight between the people and the state police and military apparatus, many are wondering what is going through the heads of young Black men who are the main targets of this weapons build-up in this Mid-Western city.
I talked with lifelong St. Louis resident Chip Wiley, whose family history living in the area goes back a few generations. Chip was also one of the young Black men who were on the front lines of the rebellion in Ferguson right after the senseless police murder of Michael Brown. I think that it is important that we hear news besides what mainstream is putting out about this Black town that is under police and military siege. Check out this brother in his own words …
M.O.I. JR: For the people who only saw it on TV, can you give a run-down of the situation in St. Louis and surrounding areas since the Aug. 9 murder of Michael Brown.
Chip Wiley: Well, there’s two different types of people in this situation. There are people who think the Michael Brown situation was an isolated situation and has nothing to do with over-policing or disparities in prosecution or the conviction and sentencing or incarceration of Blacks. To them it has nothing to do with any of those things. It has to do with the executive bench warrant and the disrespect with the police, the lack of value on the lives of Black men nationwide.
It has nothing to do with any of those things. It has nothing to do with yet another White officer killing another unarmed Black kid. Basically the Mike Brown situation – jaywalking, which is not illegal in the state of Missouri – got turned into capital punishment. And for a lot of people here that are White – again, this is an isolated situation – they think that this is about Mike Brown.
They don’t understand that this is a microcosm and a snowball effect over a lot of years. But to break it down for you, what happened that day, the long-short of it is that he got killed in the streets in broad daylight in the middle of the day.
It was about noon and they left his body out for about four hours, which was very reminiscent of – you know there’s a lot of older Black folks that live in that area in those apartment buildings in Canfield – very reminiscent of letting a man hang in a tree so everybody can see. Once the people didn’t stand for that anymore and basically rebelled, it was like we’ll get rid of this body ourselves and get him to the hospital.
It was about noon and they left his body out for about four hours, which was very reminiscent of – you know there’s a lot of older Black folks that live in that area in those apartment buildings in Canfield – very reminiscent of letting a man hang in a tree so everybody can see.
They denied two ambulances coming back there and just left him out there for four hours. So the people got aggressive. The people were like, “We’re not standing for this anymore.” And when the people actually started to move and they tried to make something happen with the body, they brought in police dogs, attack dogs.
The attack dogs turned into like over 30 counties being called in and that turned into the scene that everybody saw on CNN with all the police and the tanks and the riot gear. But really all the people wanted was for the police to get out of the neighborhood. It was at that moment that everybody just collectively lost respect for the “governing body.”
So they fought them, every day. It was a Saturday, and that Sunday night they rioted, looted. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they fought Ferguson until they got them out of their neighborhood. Ferguson would come over the intercom at night when the cells were off and say, “This is no longer a peaceful protest.” You know, the people were doing the exact same thing that they were doing all day.
When the people actually started to move the body, they brought in police dogs, attack dogs. The attack dogs turned into like over 30 counties being called in and that turned into the scene that everybody saw on CNN with all the police and the tanks and the riot gear. But really all the people wanted was for the police to get out of the neighborhood. So they fought them, every day.
The police would just decide that the protests were over, and they would fire tear gas into the crowd – women and children out there, the whole deal. So that was the first night. The second night guys basically got together and said we’re not standing for it; and it was those nights, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, that were probably the most violent and the most embarrassing really, on an actual scale.
From that point, the governor stepped in and was like, we gotta pull Ferguson out, we gotta pull St. Louis County out. That was on Wednesday. So the streets were really quiet the following day. The prosecutor came over. He (Mike Brown) died on Saturday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we rioted and looted. That Thursday the governor stepped in and pulled everybody out.
He brought in the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Everything was cool. Ferguson had been pulled out of the spot. The people had pretty much won at that point.
What I think is that St. Louis County tried to counter; they came over the prosecutor. The prosecutor came on a press conference and was like basically, “This is an embarrassment to the men and women of St. Louis County that protect whatever, whatever. The same governor is doing this and pulling our people out because they’re incompetent, which they clearly were.
And so what they did was that Thursday they dropped that video of him in the store supposedly stealing Cigarillos, that we found out later that he did pay for. And they dropped that video along with finally, I guess five or seven days later, they dropped that video along with the officer’s – Darren Wilson’s – name that we had been asking for since Saturday.
So it became this weird little one-up deal between state and local. Once they did that, they pretty much incited a riot because that was the beginning of the demonization of Mike Brown. That was when they really started to make him look like this 6-foot-3-inch menacing Black kid that was just “rah, rah, rah.” Of course, that incited another night of looting and rioting.
At which point the Missouri Highway Patrol just sort of stepped back and let it happen. The people out there –a lot of locs out there – they got up with a couple of cats from the other side and shook on it and squashed all of the street beefs and lined up along the store and didn’t allow anybody else to loot. I didn’t see much coverage on that, but that was like a really, really real moment in this whole process.
The people out there –a lot of locs out there – they got up with a couple of cats from the other side and shook on it and squashed all of the street beefs and lined up along the store and didn’t allow anybody else to loot. I didn’t see much coverage on that, but that was like a really, really real moment in this whole process.
So after that it was pretty much downhill because they brought back in Ferguson and St. Louis County and basically the prosecutor made it seem like the Missouri Highway Patrol was going to flip this because it was just too out of control for them. So from that point on, fast forward if I could.
M.O.I. JR: Before we do that, can you address the youngster who was murdered by the police on tape not too long after Mike Brown?
Chip Wiley: Yeah, it’s been two crazy, crazy murders here since that happened – about a month after that – it’s on tape. You can YouTube it; just type in “St. Louis cop shoots kid with knife.” This goes back to the issue of community policing. If you’re policing your own neighborhood in which you live, you are a lot less likely to talk crazy to the kids you have to walk past to go to your front door. You don’t talk crazy to a kid where you have to live with your wife and kids.
This goes back to the issue of community policing. If you’re policing your own neighborhood in which you live, you are a lot less likely to talk crazy to the kids you have to walk past to go to your front door.
And the last part about community policing is knowing who’s in your community. That kid that they killed with the knife was mentally ill, basically retarded for lack of a better word. He was mentally disturbed and he had a little episode, he was tripping and two cops pulled up and they pulled up like … you have to see the video. The video, oddly enough, brought laughter to me, as sick as it was to watch.
It was just amazing like how worthless life is, Black life is. It was on display. You guys have to watch the video, man. The cops were on the scene for 22 seconds. They pulled up, the kid had a knife; they were like, “Put the knife down!” He got within about, I’d say, 8-10 feet or them, and both cops on both sides of the car – they shot him 12 times.
But my thing is that with community policing, they’d be like, “Hey, man, chill out.” Or you can pull out your taser or your mace or your baton or your cuffs – any of those nonlethal items that you have – and handle that situation.
Excuse me for holding the police to a higher standard, but it just seems like they’re hiring chumps, man. These guys are scared of anything with Black skin – I don’t care how young it is, I don’t care how old it is. They’re chumps.
You go to your police academy for six to eight weeks and you learn how to restrain and subdue grown men, but when you come across an 18-year-old kid, the first thing you’re reaching for is a pistol. And it just comes off real weak, really, to me. I’m 30 and there’s not an 18-year-old kid on earth that I’d be scared for my life with if it was just me and him. But that’s neither here nor there really.
The last police shooting, the one that sparked the protest on Grand, it wasn’t as egregious – it didn’t seem as egregious as Mike Brown. But the deal here was, the long and short, kids were coming out of a corner store, undercover comes out of the corner with a gun and says, “Don’t move!” I guess they considered one of the kids a hustler.
But he doesn’t announce himself as an officer and he had plain clothes on, so of course the kids hit it. They break on just a little corridor and, well, nobody really knows what happened. But the cops shot him I don’t how how many times. He was riddled with bullets. I think he was 17. But the kid was shot and killed.
The story was the kid shot at the cops and that’s why he got shot and killed. When we went to forensic evidence, what the autopsy found out about several of those bullets, he was shot in the back several times. So apparently he wasn’t facing this guy and he wasn’t shooting at this guy.
It just seems like at this point it’s like, what y’all gon’ do? I was talking to a friend and he said these cats kind of sound like ISIS to me. So they’re like, “Fuck it. I can die out here for nothing going at these cats from the other side or I could die for justice tonight with these police.”
They’re fearless. They’re like, “Forget these police. They don’t respect us, so I don’t respect them. And they gon’ take me out anyway like they took out Mike Brown. He graduated high school. He was fixing to go to college. That wasn’t enough. They killed him anyway. He was two days away from being enrolled.”
They’re like, “Fuck it. I can die out here for nothing going at these cats from the other side or I could die for justice tonight with these police.” They’re fearless – they’re ready to be a martyr.
So it’s real hopeless almost with these young guys out here. Lack of knowledge of self, lack of knowledge period and they just – they’re ready to be a martyr. That warrior spirit is really bleeding through. It’s disturbing for somebody like me who’s on the ground who’s looking at these cats every day, looking them in the eyes and you see how real it is to them and you see how they ready they are. They’re scary, man.
So the governor, Jay Nixon, came out a couple of days ago …
M.O.I. JR: Let me ask you before we get into that, has the movement unified and polarized the community?
Chip Wiley: Yeah, this is St. Louis. We’ve always been a murder capital; we always have been. What’s crazy is, man, the murders have subsided if you look at the stats. All the street beefs have been squashed. There’s only been a couple of incidents with young guys who were just wilding out and doing what they do.
But for the most part, like I said, the murders have subsided. Everybody is just kind of watching the police. Nobody has any more respect for the police, Black or White. Nobody feels like the police are going to do anything. Nobody feels like the police are going to protect them.
I just read a stat yesterday that said that since the whole Mike Brown thing, CCW, concealed carries, have gone up something like 30 percent. It’s ridiculous. Everybody’s buying a gun right now. The media’s putting out these vibes that basically these young boys are going to be running through your front door when this comes out, so be prepared. So that’s been kind of trippish, you know, watching these older White men load up preparing for the purge. It’s been kind of crazy, man.
M.O.I. JR: Well, I know that there’s been a certain level, not a certain level but a huge amount of activism on every level, from musicians to the streets. I know that y’all in St. Louis had a protest on the freeway. It’s been huge. Jesse Jackson’ been ran up out of there, Al Sharpton been ran up out of there, so it’s been going down.
Where is it at now, now that they’re putting in the media that the grand jury is about to come to a decision? Where’s the hood? Where’s everybody at? What are y’all seeing in terms of the police? Because what we’re seeing on the news, we’re seeing tanks and all kinds of military hardware being brought in and the military think they’re fighting ISIS.
Chip Wiley: Yes, yes, the governor, Jay Nixon, just came out Tuesday. He had a press conference. The long and short of it is that people need to act dignified and respect the court’s decision, whatever that may be, and just know that we are ready to protect the city to the fullest extent of the law.
So basically Tuesday he came out and was just like, “Look, we’re not going to convict this guy – and we’ll kill you niggers if we have to.” So basically after that, if you’re not one of those people at home watching your 60-inch, high definition TV in the comfort of y’all home, it’s there that you can continually forget that, you know, it’s real out here, man. You forget the indiscretion of your own children.
This is crazy. man. This is crazy. Nobody realizes that this comes from a history of lynching and oppression and discrimination and abuse and predatory lending that is manifested in not only the endangerment of the psychological situation that these kids are going through and these Black people are going through in these areas and surrounding areas of St. Louis, but also in the very world that they live in. It’s not promising.
This comes from a history of lynching and oppression and discrimination and abuse and predatory lending that is manifested in not only the endangerment of the psychological situation that these kids are going through and these Black people are going through in these areas and surrounding areas of St. Louis, but also in the very world that they live in. It’s not promising.
I wish you could be out there, bro’. Like right now the hood is like, “We ready. Whatever is gonna happen, we ready.”
They called out over a thousand police, man, over a thousand police officers. Let me put this in perspective for you, bro’. I was watching CNN a couple of days ago. Obama deployed 1,500 Marines over there on Iraq soil for ISIS, bro’. They have 1,000 cops, bro’, from all over the states of the Midwest coming to St. Louis tomorrow for this garbage.
Let me put this in perspective for you yet again. Now all of this money that it must cost to bring all these cops in, all the money it must cost to call in the Missouri Highway Patrol, all the taxpayer dollars it must cost to call in the National fucking Guard, bro’, all y’all had to do was put one man in jail. That’s it! Even if you locked him up and he bailed out, it’s about perception, bro’. Like basically y’all didn’t do shit.
Now all of this money that it must cost to bring all these cops in, … all y’all had to do was put one man in jail. That’s it!
You should see the police report. There’s not even a paragraph from Darren Wilson. He didn’t say shit about what happened. Like they didn’t interview him, nothing. I mean even with the Trayvon situation, the man got arrested and interviewed.
But this all seems very egregious and very sneaky and very blatant in a lot of ways. I mean it was thoroughly frustrating if you’re here and you really get it. You know, like a thousand police officers are going to be here in St. Louis and for what? To go out and kill another unarmed Black kid in the streets and then leave him there for four hours and then stuff him in the back of an SUV to get him off the streets?
A thousand police officers are going to be here in St. Louis and for what? To go out and kill another unarmed Black kid in the streets and then leave him there for four hours and then stuff him in the back of an SUV to get him off the streets?
M.O.I. JR: Do you think that St. Louis and the surrounding areas or, for that matter, America, the United States, do you feel that the United States is forever changed after this incident as well as the response from the community?
Chip Wiley: It will be. It ain’t yet, but it will be. I think that the ripple effect of this is going to rock the whole nation, and I think that this has the potential to be the tipping point for race relations in America when it comes to policing. It’s just different for us, man.
I think that the ripple effect of this is going to rock the whole nation, and I think that this has the potential to be the tipping point for race relations in America when it comes to policing.
But like I said, there are two different types of people in this situation. People that feel like that the Mike Brown situation is an isolated incident and has nothing to do with any other things that are relevant but it’s – man, it’s crazy, bro’.
This is the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my own city, and it ain’t with my people or even the White folks. It’s with the straight police, man, the police. Like I said, even the White folks, that’s why they buying all these guns. They don’t feel these police be protecting their property. They don’t have that level of comfort right now. So it’s a trip, man; it’s a real trip. It’s very uncomfortable out here.
And again there are two types of White people: White people that are like, “Man, they fucked up what they did to that boy who was unarmed and never had a gun. I don’t care what he did to the police; I don’t care if he punched that cop in the face five times. He’s a cop, man. Sometimes you gon’ get punched in the face five times. That’s what you went to the Academy for.”
And so a lot of people were saying. “Well, he stole Cigarillos, so he got what he deserved.” I feel like I don’t care if he stole a Cadillac. So like I said, it’s two different types of people here. It’s blatant who they are. There are White people on the other side of the fence that don’t really speak, that are really uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than usual. It’s just crazy, man, no eye contact, not really speaking. It’s crazy what’s going on here.
M.O.I. JR: What do you recommend that we look at as far as media to get the best coverage as to what’s going on in St. Louis and in Ferguson?
Chip Wiley: Well, it’s my opinion that MSNBC has been doing an awesome job. Home-boy from CNN has been doing a pretty solid job too – not Don Lemon, but the other guy – what’s his name? Vance. I can’t think of his name right now, but there’s another Black guy on CNN that’s pretty solid. Don Lemon can be a little weird at times; he does a good job of straddling the line as far as I’m concerned, my own personal opinion.
But MSNBC has been the one news source that I’ve been going to try to figure out what is really going on. MSNBC really seems to get it, and what’s weird is I didn’t feel like they got it until they deployed onto the actual soil. What’s the dude’s name – Chris Hayes, I guess, Rachel Maddow – they seemed to really get it.
They get the frustration of the people, they get the unequivocal disrespect that comes between Blacks and Whites in this area. Melissa Harris Perry, she has had a couple of very – man, I hope they’re on the Internet; if you look up Melissa Harris Perry, Ferguson – she had some awesome, absolutely awesome closing statement in her show about Ferguson and the state of race relations in America.
A lot of people get it, man; a lot of people get it. They’re still a small percentage and that’s the thing. I don’t want people to feel like it’s just a bunch of White people running around with sheets out here. That’s not the case, and if you watch TV and if you really look at it good, you’ll see as many White folks out there screaming and yelling about Mike Brown and the injustice out here as there are Blacks. Some days it’s even more.
I know during the Grand protest when they went into St. Louis campus, I mean, shit, that was one of the coolest moments of the whole protest. I mean, man, they went up and down Grand about the kid that got killed and who got shot in the back lots of times. They went up and down Grand protesting. St. Louis University is at Grand and the expressway. When they got onto the campus, bro’, it was the craziest thing to see the dorms just pour out. These kids are just coming out the dorms joining the protest, bro’. It was crazy.
So, I mean, at that moment you had – shit, it must have been 70-30 Whites, you know what I’m saying. They were out there protesting and were involved and active. That was the one Cornel West was there for. That was when Cornel West got arrested.
So yeah, man, we’re not going to stop. We’re not letting them forget. We’re not letting them think that we forgot.
And we will go out hard, the hardest as I’ve seen them go for any one cause as a unit, Blacks and Whites, rich and poor. So that’s why I think it’s going to be a caustic situation if they do not indict Darren Wilson on some charge. I mean at what point is it not excessive? Yeah, man, the state of the community, it’s very clear who’s on what side. So God bless my city, man, when they come out with this verdict.
M.O.I. JR: We’re going to leave you on that note. I just want you to know that the Block Report and the Bay View are with y’all soldiers and soldierettes on the front line of the war on police terrorism right here in the United States out there in Ferguson and St. Louis. We appreciate y’all from the bottom of our heart and y’all keep standing tall, man. Salute.
Chip Wiley: I appreciate y’all reaching out up there, man. You know we have a lot of respect for Oakland, man. We know y’all the home the Black Panthers. We know y’all the home of this unity. There’s a lot of unity in Oakland. It’s a very united front. So in St. Louis, we see y’all, we learn from y’all and we rock with y’all.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This interview was transcribed by Adrian McKinney.