This edition of Clearing The FOG Radio, co-hosted by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, focuses on where the movement against police abuse is going. With the decision of the grand jury possible any day now, and the likely result being no indictment according to law enforcement leaks to the press, how should the people of Ferguson and the nation react? What would be a constructive to response for the lack of justice for Michael Brown? And, what should the movement be demanding. In the first half hour two guests who have worked in Ferguson as part of the movement for justice for Michael Brown discuss next steps, the mood of the community and how those of us outside Ferguson can help. In the second half hour, two African American activists in Washington, DC and New York City comment on the situation, not only in Ferguson but regarding police abuse nationally. In DC, Kymone Freeman has been part of the #DCFerguson coalition and in NYC, Glenn Ford long-time commentator on African American issues and editor of Black Agenda Report comments. Ford proposes that rather than “community policing” we need “community controlled policing” that includes the ability of communities to remove officers who are racist or abusive.
“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of fear, anticipation” about that announcement, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who was put in charge of security in Ferguson in the days after Brown was killed and is now part of a coordinated command with local police. But “I have a lot of hope.” Law enforcement officers expect to receive at least a day’s notice before a grand jury announcement. That should provide time for them to execute security plans but may also allow demonstrators to prepare. “The moment I learn that there is, in fact, a non-indictment, then there’s going to be an organized protest,” said Eric Vickers, a black St. Louis attorney and civil rights activist. Wilson’s description of events was leaked recently, as was an autopsy report that showed Brown had marijuana in his system and was shot in the hand at close range. Wilson has alleged Brown was trying to grab his gun in the SUV. “It appears that it may be calculated to soften the blow if there is no indictment,” said Peter Joy, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who directs the school’s Criminal Justice Clinic. Amnesty International on Thursday released a report documenting what it described as human rights abuses by police during the protests following Brown’s death. The report accuses police of violating citizens’ rights by intimidating protesters using riot gear, aiming high-powered weapons at people, using tear gas, firing rubber bullets and flash-bangs, and setting curfews. St. Louis city police recently spent $325,000 upgrading helmets, sticks and other “civil disobedience equipment,” said Police Chief Sam Dotson.
Eighteen year old Michael Brown man was shot to death by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Because the people of Ferguson rose up in protest, his death did not disappear as is often the case with black victims of police violence. Newspapers and television networks from all over the world cover the continuing protests as a grand jury deliberates Wilson’s fate. The coverage has varied greatly in quality, with the New York Times faring the worst among the major corporate media outlets. The Times alternately casts aspersions on Brown’s character and relies on law enforcement leaks which make it appear that Wilson acted appropriately when he shot a fleeing, unarmed young man. The result is justification for racist murder. But the worst case scenario has happened not once, but twice with New York Times reporters reporting law enforcement leaks as if they are factual and making the case that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown. An August 19, 2014 Times headline claimed that eyewitnesses to the shooting gave accounts which conflicted with another and which also implied Brown threatened Wilson after he fled.
Today was the 19th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. People protested against intensified police killings and abuse, torture conditions inflicted on tens of thousands of incarcerated people, widespread use of solitary confinement, mass incarceration and young people being treated like criminals, “guilty until proven innocent.” Continuing the defiant protests going on in Ferguson, MO in response to the police killing of Michael Brown, people from coast to coast participated in the heightened resistance to police murder all across the country. Against this backdrop, people in more than 50 cities across the United States took to the streets and protested in other ways. From Atlanta to Oakland, hundreds turned out with a strong message and strong actions – shutting down highways and marching past police barricades. Here are some of the best moments in photos and tweets from the actions:
Protests on October 22 against intensified police killings, tortuous conditions being inflicted on tens of thousands of incarcerated people, and young people treated like criminals, guilty until proven innocent if they can survive to prove their innocence, will mark 19 years of the annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Continuing defiant protests in Ferguson, MO, in response to the police killing of Michael Brown are part of heightened resistance to police murder all across the country. Against this backdrop, people in more than 38 cities across the U.S. are planning to take to the streets and act in other ways on Wednesday. The Organization for Black Struggle has called for civil disobedience outside the jail where people arrested in Ferguson have been imprisoned.
Than an incredible, unplanned thing happened. Sometime after Ryan and I had spoken to Sgt. Wood, unconnected to these conversations, a elegant, tall black woman, Dragonfly from Brooklyn with Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, came up to this same officer. She was holding a sign that said on one side, “YOU ARE KILLING US” and on the other, “DON’T SHOOT.” She approached and attempted to make eye contact. She implored him to look at her, and when their gaze connected, and she was face-to-face pouring out her heart with tears running down her face, she asked: “Why do you hate us so much?” Wood replied, “I don’t hate you, Ma’am.” To which Dragonfly responded “ And I don’t want to hate you. I want to love you. I’d rather hug you.” You could see, even in the rain that the officer’s eyes were starting to mist up. What Dragonfly was saying was not coming from an intellectual place, but directly from her heart without any fear. That could be felt. The sergeant looked at her and said “Well, then, hug me.” So she did and he hugged her back and it was a real embrace.
I was being held to prevent me from traveling to Ferguson and continuing the work I have been doing there and elsewhere regarding corruption in government and law enforcement. The problem was the “doctor.” I’ll explain why–I put that in quotes–and the administration. I was legally entitled, and they were required, to have a psychiatrist review my case within 24 and 48 hours. A day after I was taken in – I met with a person purporting to be that psychiatric doctor and the whole institution purporting that. She was demeaning and dismissive – and as I pressed her – she clearly had no idea either about psychiatry. It started to become obvious to a “social worker” who had no business being present, that I was “on” to her. I told her that they had no legal or medical basis to hold me – and she said she could not release me. I stated as doctor she had that authority. She denied it-a first sign [to me] of a problem. I later found out she wasn’t a doctor.
A new study suggests that aggressive policing likely has an adverse effect on the mental health of young men in New York City — particularly young men who are black. The study, released Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health, appears to show higher rates of feelings of stress, anxiety and trauma in young men who experienced multiple or intrusive stop and frisk encounters with police than among young men who had fewer or no such encounters. “Our findings suggest that proactive policing tactics have the potential to negatively impact the relationship between the community and police, as well as the mental health and well-being of community members,” Amanda Geller, a professor at New York University and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
Thousands of activists gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, October 10-13, to show the world they will not be silenced, unless they choose silence as a weapon. At one point during the “weekend of resistance”—a direct response to the slaying of Michael Brown on August 9, and other Black men across the country in recent months, at the hands of law enforcement—people lay silently in chalk outlines on the road, fists raised. Back in August, Ferguson residents made a simple demand: Arrest Brown’s killer, police officer Darren Wilson. That was it. Just get the wheels of justice turning. In the intervening weeks, the world learned Wilson didn’t even bother turning in an incident report. We watched the Ferguson police defy the Justice Department and refuse to wear their name badges. But the people in Ferguson were not only watching a failed justice system—they were adding Brown’s name to a long list of police shooting victims and getting organized.
Throughout the nation the issue of police brutality, including killings of unarmed people, is a common problem. It is part of a criminal enforcement system that has pitted police against people in ways that are very destructive to the fabric of the nation. DOJ is taking or has taken action involving three dozen law enforcement agencies during the Obama era. To turn this moment of awareness and activism into an effective movement, we need an agenda to transform policing so police play a constructive role in the community. At the inspiring FergusonOctober actions, protesters put forward a list of demands that provide an agenda for a movement to fix policing in America. People need to unite around the resulting agenda from the killing of Michael Brown and so many others across the country. At the same time, people need to act on their own to create the world we want to see, e.g. instituting Cop Watch and forming citizen groups to define the police they envision. Finally, we need to recognize the connections between police abuse with the broader issues of an unfair economy, environmental destruction, racism and government corruption. Uniting to build a mass transformative movement is the only path to the changes that are needed.
#DC Ferguson put forward a three-part agenda before the City Council: – One, we need to have the Office of Police Complaints empowered with the power to indict officers for misconduct. – Two, we want to have a significant number and y’all can argue about the percentage because gentrification is real, we want a significant percentage of police officers who work in our community live in our community. – Finally, we want any officer who has fired upon or caused the death of an unarmed otherwise innocent civilian to be fired, to be arrested, to be convicted and to go to jail. Anything less than that, is lip service to this issue. We have not seen any qualitative changes with a Black President to a Black Attorney General, who just quit, but we have not seen any changes. Until we get these three things we will continue to shut down as much as we can with #DCFerguson.
The Ferguson, Moral Monday protest brought people of all ages into the streets of Ferguson and St. Louis seeking justice. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou wrote a column in the St. Louis American that clarified the issues the nation is confronting: “America has a choice – death or rebirth. Will it be a nation where we kill unarmed black teenagers with their hands up, hogtie peaceful protestors and teargas pregnant women and children, or can we envision a nation that would give justice to all the Mike Browns of America? The deadly option, it seems, is the preference. The police brutality embodied in the killing of all the Mike Browns of America and the blatant disrespect shown to his body and community are emblematic of a nation heading toward spiritual death.”
Some ten thousand members of the bases of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation marched briskly through San Cristobal de las Casas on October 8. They gathered on the outskirts of the city, under a blue sky stained with clouds that threateend rain and then walked in long, orderly lines toward the central plaza of the city. The long river of Zapatistas moved fluidly and silently; the only sound was the steps of their shoes and boots. They carried signs that read “Your rage is ours”, “Your pain is our pain” and “You are not alone”. The message was for the students of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero and for the families that found out that on on Sept. 26-27 their sons were killed or kidnapped as they traveled by bus, at the hands of municipal police in complicity with the drug trafficking organization Guerreros Unidos. Two weeks from the attacks there are 6 dead and 43 disappeared.
People from coast-to-coast joined the people of Ferguson and St. Louis County calling for justice in the killing of Mike Brown. Below are a series of tweets that give a sense of the massive protest held in St. Louis today. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes the scene: Thousands of demonstrators from across the country marched in downtown St. Louis Saturday, chanting “We are Mike Brown,” as part of a series of events to protest police violence nationwide. “We’re fighting for our lives,” St. Louis activist and rapper Tef Poe told the crowd. The march started in the middle of Market Street at 15th Street and ended at Kiener Plaza. The crowd chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,””No justice, no peace,” and “United we stand, divided we fall.” Police used barricades to keep traffic away from the crowd. Officers patrolled on bicycles and foot. But unlike the protests in August after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, St. Louis police avoided any visible show of force during Saturday’s downtown march.
“It’s important for this country to stand with this community,” said protester Ellen Davidson of New York City, who was making her second trip to the St. Louis area since Brown’s death. “This community is under siege. … The eyes of the world are watching.” On Saturday, the protests shift to downtown St. Louis, hours before the Cardinals host the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series. And on Monday, a series of planned — but unannounced — acts of civil disobedience are to take place throughout the St. Louis region. “I’m not planning to get arrested,” said Davidson, who was meeting up with other protesters from Illinois, Minnesota, New York and Tennessee. “But I do plan to do what I believe are in my rights as a protester. If I get arrested, that’s on the people who arrest me.”