Ferguson police intensify abuse, but no amount of tear gas, hatred and contempt will deter us

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by The Organization for Black Struggle

Ferguson takes to the streets again Tuesday, Aug. 11, during more than a week of protests around the first anniversary of the Aug. 9, 2014, murder of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. – Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP
Ferguson takes to the streets again Tuesday, Aug. 11, during more than a week of protests around the first anniversary of the Aug. 9, 2014, murder of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. – Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP

Ferguson, Mo. – One year following the tragic killing of Michael Brown, with more and more people across the country acknowledging the systemic targeting of Black communities by law enforcement, police officials in St. Louis and St. Louis County have made no progress.

Even in the face of a stinging rebuke by the Department of Justice over Ferguson’s racial profiling and aggressive targeting of communities of color, police officials remain unrepentant for their heavy-handed and violent reaction to people they are sworn to protect and serve. In the wake of a weekend in which thousands of people peacefully mourned with the family of Michael Brown, others took to the streets to peacefully demand policing reforms.

The Ferguson Action Council, which includes the Organization for Black Struggle, Ferguson Action, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Hands Up United, MORE, Don’t Shoot Coalition, Operation Help or Hush, TribeX, Socialist Alternative and Advancement Project, released the following statement:

The decision to reopen minor misdemeanor cases is a clear attempt to criminalize and intimidate people who sought to exercise their basic American right to protest. The retaliation against the Ferguson and St. Louis community is broad in its scope, targeting more than 1,000 young people, adults and even journalists seeking solely to do their jobs.

Oath Keepers, former police, military and “first responders,” invade Ferguson on Aug. 11, two days after the first anniversary of Mike Brown’s police lynching, showing off their “open carry” permitted weapons. – Photo: Lucas Jackson, Reuters
Oath Keepers, former police, military and “first responders,” invade Ferguson on Aug. 11, two days after the first anniversary of Mike Brown’s police lynching, showing off their “open carry” permitted weapons. – Photo: Lucas Jackson, Reuters

The treatment of arrestees during the recent I-70 highway demonstration was fraught with indignities, with police denying female protestors feminine hygiene products while in custody, protestors restrained with their hands behind their backs in zip ties for 12 or more hours, slamming protestors on the ground and belligerently exclaiming, “We are tired of you guys.”

Perhaps that’s why some protestors were falsely charged with “hate crimes” for peacefully assembling. At the height of summer, some protestors were even held in enclosed government vehicles for lengthy periods without air-conditioning. If such behavior is inappropriate for a dog, why is it acceptable for human beings?

The deplorable treatment of demonstrators Monday followed a night of aggressive police response to demonstrators in Ferguson, including use of tear gas and other chemical agents, and allowing armed White vigilantes to patrol the streets and terrorize peaceful demonstrators. Rather than addressing this egregious police overreach to peaceful protests, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a State of Emergency. The county executive didn’t declare a state of emergency when the DOJ detailed years of police victimization of communities of color, yet he found it acceptable to do so now.

In the face of such intimidation and blatant abuse we will not be silenced. We take comfort in knowing that ours is a moral cause. No amount of tear gas, hatred and contempt will deter us.

The Organization for Black Struggle was founded in 1980 by activists, students, union organizers and other community members in order to fill a vacuum left by the assaults on the Black Power Movement and to build a movement for political empowerment, economic justice and cultural dignity for African Americans. They can be reached via Waylon McDonald, at waylon@obs-stl.org.

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