Book-length analyses could be written on the developments in Ferguson, Mo., the majority Black enclave outside St. Louis where Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
There is the killing itself and then the callous way 18-year-old Michael Brown’s body was left to lie in the sun, the trauma it must have caused people in the community, and the inevitable and indelible scar left, plus the message that somehow a Black life must be worth less — what else could describe the callous disregard — and the similarity to the lynchings that preceded the Civil Rights/Black Liberation struggle and how they were used to terrorize and send a message.
There is the neoliberal model and the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods in St. Louis — more gently referred to as gentrification — and how Ferguson, which was a majority white, middle-class suburb two decades ago, became an impoverished Black city with a high unemployment rate, populated by residents pushed out of St. Louis neighborhoods by developers in collusion with politicians and their army of police.
The same script has been written in cities across the country, where quality-of-life ordinances, zero-tolerance policies, school closings and cutbacks of social services, and the break-up of families through the destruction of public housing — all of this — feeds into a model that allows white middle-class families who fled the inner cities decades ago to move into areas that were disinvested for years, and then property is bought cheap and redeveloped out from under the poor residents of color.
There are, of course, the rebellion and the constant and consistent vigilance of the people of Ferguson and St. Louis County, supported from around the country by the burgeoning movement against police repression and what may be the resurgence of the Black Liberation movement.
However, the way in which an obvious murder of yet another unarmed and capitulating Black person by a cop has been made a case of reasonable doubt of Michael Brown’s innocence by virtue of his Blackness underlies any proper analysis.
It is another symptom of national oppression. The mainstream bourgeois media, the bourgeois government and the state criminalize, vilify and make pariahs out of people of color.
The “leaks” coming from Ferguson point to a process that is purposely trying to poison the memory of Michael Brown. And they seemingly lay the foundation that would justify another heavy and repressive response from police forces in St. Louis County when the grand jury makes its decision — a decision many expect to be in favor of no indictment of Darren Wilson.
Attempts to smear Michael Brown
There have been attempts all along to smear Michael Brown. The first was the video from the convenience store, which the police department released to counter the demand for the release of the name of the cop who shot Brown.
The recent release of the autopsy results, which are being submitted as evidence before the grand jury, is another attempt to smear the young slain Black male and paint Darren Wilson as a cop just doing his job and protecting himself — instead of a person who shot numerous times and shot to death an unarmed person who had his hands up.
That the autopsy results were released as validating Wilson’s version of events is another slant and slander. One can think of several ways in which a person could receive a bullet wound to the hand, but such an explanation would only be believable if it appeared in a society where a Black life matters and a young Black man has a right to his life and, as in the case of Trayvon Martin too, the right not to be victimized.
For this scenario, only Darren Wilson’s account matters — not that of numerous witnesses, not the fact that Brown was unarmed, nor that Wilson initiated and escalated a situation because he saw two young Black men walking in the street.
What further adds to the anger — and is a perfect example of white privilege in U.S. society — is that Michael Brown and protesters around the country have been labeled thugs and worse, while college-age whites who rampaged at a pumpkin fest in Keane, N.H., and at a football-related event in West Virginia were treated with kid gloves. The participants were called rowdy revelers and mischief makers — none of the racist, inflammatory language hurled at people in Ferguson who responded to a racist killing of a young college-bound Black man.