The following piece is from STL American. It was written by protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and their allies.
By: Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and their allies
A group of 20 Ferguson protestors and allies posted this open letter to the community regarding the upcoming Weekend of Resistance in Ferguson, signing their work only using their Twitter aliases. Out of respect for their courage and the forcefulness of their statement, we print their work as our editorial this week – in solidarity.
Here in Ferguson, our community has come to know terror on American soil. A public slaying so gruesome it harkened images of the lynchings from the most heinous moments in history, for young and old to see.
Michael Brown’s bloodied, lifeless body, left to lay in the street for more than four hours, a glaring reminder of the value of black life. Peaceful protestors, attacked by waves of gas and bullets meant only for war. Daily, violent reminders that our black skin renders us unsafe in our own community. No human, no American citizen, no child could look upon this scene and not unequivocally know: enough is enough.
Civil disobedience is as American as baseball and apple pie. It was the tool of founders who changed the course of history in freeing America from Britain’s tyranny. Susan B. Anthony and hundreds of others employed the same tactic to secure women democratic access to the ballot box. Dr. King called upon this same tradition, shifting institutions and people in order to win the protections enumerated in our founding for African Americans and the poor.
Now, nearly 50 years later, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, desegregation, and the election of the first black president, we find ourselves once again defending the value of black life and calling once again for a change in people and institutions to ensure the freedom of future generations right here in Ferguson.
But instead of the respect accorded those historical figures, we are reviled. Instead of the cloak of democracy protecting our participation, we, a diverse collective of peaceful protestors and allies, have repeatedly suffered and witnessed the violation of those same freedoms we won by way of this same tried-and-true American tradition.
Sixty days ago, unarmed, hands-up in surrender, Michael Brown Jr. was gunned down by Darren Wilson. Darren Wilson is still free. Michael Brown Jr. is still gone.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, some have shown more outrage at the interruption of traffic and a night at the symphony or a baseball game than they have for the interruption of an innocent life that will now and forever go unlived, unfulfilled.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, scores of people were rendered prisoners in their own homes. Unable to report to work, feed their children, attend school, access basic needs or utilize public transportation, some residents are now unemployed. We are all citizens deeply traumatized by the slaying of a young life and the horror that followed. The police and the politicians of Ferguson, of St. Louis, of Missouri: all must take account of this trauma and must make amends.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, a police department’s unpreparedness quickly became our most dangerous nightmare. Night after night, hails of rubber bullets and tear gas were released on innocent, peaceful people, exercising our right to demand justice for Mike through free assembly.
Over 200 baseless arrests – some now ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge – have attempted to silence our freedoms of speech and assembly. Unfounded church raids have assaulted our freedom of religion and have sullied sacred space. We do not yet know the physical and psychological toll this abuse will take on us, on the children and elderly who accompanied us by their own volition, searching for freedom.
We demanded respect and were met with attack; we searched for justice and were met with contempt. But in the aftermath of Mike’s death, the democratic spirit of self-determination and dedication to those certain unalienable rights for all human beings remains unbroken.
Gaza stands with Ferguson. Hong Kong learned from Ferguson. And this weekend, for the second time, hundreds of Americans from every life experience will come to walk in solidarity with Ferguson. We have sought human dignity in the companionship of the global community, and they have answered the call.
During a holiday weekend named for one of the most atrocious genocidal figures in American history, we will reclaim our collective voice and live fully as democratic citizens who believe all lives matter.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, we will continue to push for the dismantling of systems founded on the racial targeting of American citizens, systemic denial of basic health care, quality education, and other essential community services, and the culture of police brutality that has invaded the institutions meant to serve and protect. We will not bow to those who demand that we happily accept order with no offering of justice. We will demand equal justice under the law.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, we will continue to be led by our young, who most brutally feel the sting of the devaluation of their lives by the systemic and structural racism, but who, in their determined resilience, will continue to show us what democracy looks like.
And we welcome people of all ages to help build a better future, together. In the aftermath of Mike’s death, we will continue to be intentionally peaceful but will continue to unapologetically, forcefully proclaim that our lives matter, and we will be treated as such.
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