On the afternoon of Saturday, August 9th, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown was murdered in cold blood by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The black community of Ferguson rallied in protest, and was met with a fully militarized police force with tanks, riot gear and sniper rifles using tear gas, stun grenades, and smoke bombs to disperse crowds, techniques taken directly from the military arsenal.
Most traditional media sources were silent about the shooting and the violent police response to the peaceful protests. Media outlets that did attempt to cover the story were threatened and tear-gassed, as was a state senator. Journalists and the St Louis Alderman were arrested without cause, and released without charge. Thus, people took to Twitter to provide coverage of the events.
The people’s outrage at these latest acts of terrorism by the state against its own citizens is palpable and justified. Black Americans are disproportionately harassed, intimidated, incarcerated, and murdered at the hands of the police in the United States. Yet when the people show collective anger in response, they are demonized and portrayed one-dimensionally as rioters and looters, which in turn is used to further reinforce racist narratives and justify the use of more force against them.
Vigils were held all over the US tonight to mourn Michael Brown and the many other recent black victims of racist police brutality, including Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Ezell Ford. Thank you to Feminista Jones who began the #NMOS14 Twitter campaign that was used to organize the vigils, the journalists who shared their accounts of the events, the bloggers who put the Ferguson events in historical and social context, the countless members of the public who used social media to signal-boost coverage of the story as well as of the nationwide vigils, and to members of Anonymous who hacked the city of Ferguson website (and will likely do more than that before this is through).
We salute the residents of Ferguson and St. Louis who in these past few days have shown tremendous courage and stood up to the veritable army that is the St. Louis police force, and we share our outrage, sorrow, and solidarity with all those around the world who have been victimized by state and police violence.
We would also like to commemorate today the 1-year anniversary of the Rabaa Massacre in Egypt, in which Egyptian forces committed a crime against humanity by murdering nearly 900 people in what may be one of the worst ever violations of international law. We remember those who were killed, while at the same time we condemn the colonialist and imperialist forces that through their tactic of divide-and-conquer created the foundation for civil unrest in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.