On the night of March 11th, the protest had a familiar atmosphere. It almost felt like August again. I walked in to the sounds of “F*** the Police” blasting, they played both the Boosie and NWA version. These songs are liberating and therapeutic for many of us. Even #FergusonPD was up to their usual “snatch and grab” “game”, which is when they charge us and arrest anybody, and they don’t care who they get either. There were so many faces, and I felt excited to see these people, they were my family and it was a like a big reunion. I’m not sure what brought out such a large crowd to the PD last night; maybe it was the weather, maybe people wanted to celebrate multiple resignations. Whatever it was, I was just thrilled to be in the midst of family.
This is a concept that many onlookers don’t realize. For many of us, the protestors have become our uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers; and the streets have become our home. It’s weird really. One goes to the protest to declare how they don’t feel ”protected” by the state, and upon arrival they stumble upon the protection they seek within the community. I love it. To protest is family. To protest is protection. To protest is to love. But in the midst of love, hatred is often found rearing its ugly head around the corner in envy.
I’m sure everyone has heard the news that four shots were fired outside of the Ferguson Police Department last night, and I’m sure opportunistic anti protests folks have found a way to make it the fault of protestors. Let’s make one thing clear; the purpose of these protests is to declare that black lives, ALL black lives, matter. Black lives matter when we’re walking the streets. Black lives matter when a cop shoots one of us and does not call for medical attention. Black lives matter when we’re diagnosed with mental illness. Black lives matter when we’re transwomen or transmen. Black lives matter when we’re homeless. Black lives matter when we’re women. Black lives matter when they’re cops too, because guess what, black cops are at risk of getting shot by their own colleagues when they’re out of uniform. And after the shots being fired last night, guess what… BLACK LIVES STILL MATTER. US declaring the value of our lives, does not dismantle the value of the lives of non-black people. The value of life is not a zero-sum game, where the more I have, the less another has. NO! We can ALL simultaneously have equal value. So anyone concluding that protesting is responsible for those officers getting shot, is not paying attention to the message.
I stood right across from the police when those gunshots were fired. I heard the first two and merely looked back. My brain acknowledged that someone was shooting, but I was still in the protest mode, I didn’t care about a perceived threat. Besides, I still felt “safe” despite hearing shots. But by the third shot, I finally turned my attention back towards the police and saw that they drew a their weapons. When seeing their guns my mentality was “get out of the way because they will certainly shoot you and there will be no responsibility taken for your life”. What’s amazing is finding out the other protestors had the same reaction. We all had that “oh someone’s shooting big deal, oh wait, the cops have pulled out their guns. RUN!”. I think this speaks volumes about the trauma within our communities. We heard gunshots and didn’t move because we’ve heard too many. Some people identified the gun just on sound alone, we’ve witnessed too much. We knew to run when the cops pulled out guns
because we knew their bullets had no purpose, no name, no direction, just thirst for the blood of black bodies. Them shooting would have been no different from their snatch and grab game. They wouldn’t have cared who they got, as long as they got somebody.
But that’s not where this ends, in the heat of the moment, we got to witness what these cops are actually like when “a threat is perceived” aka “I was in fear of my life”. I want the world to know that police officers do not give verbal warnings when they pull out their weapons. Keep in mind, I didn’t know they pulled out their guns until I actually looked at them. They certainly do not protect and serve. They didn’t tell protestors to get down on the ground. They didn’t run to our aid. They took cover with each other and pointed their guns all over the place. Some protestors reported having guns aimed directly at them even though the shots came from 500 feet behind us and towards the right. This isn’t to bash the officers, but to point out how danger increased for us when they drew their weapons, instead of the danger deescalating with their intervention.
The next part we need to reflect on is how tarnished police and community relations are in black communities. When told a cop was shot, my mind went back to august when police officers kept claiming people were shooting and throwing rocks at them to change the narrative of the protests. None of their claims were caught on camera, livestream, nor were those cops injured. These are the same cops that used flash bang bombs to set cars on fire the night of the no indictment announcement. These same cops let a bullet that was shot into the head of a young woman, “disappear”. The trust between this community and the police are so low that many of us are thinking that this was set up for the purposes of obtaining public support after so many of their leaders have resigned and the DOJ report. I don’t present my thoughts as ultimate truth; I merely want to expose that last night’s incident being a set up is a reality for us [Black People]. I know some people may think my claim is bizarre, but as a black person, I know how desperate white supremacy is to sustain power. I witnessed bodies of seven young men slain in the streets and then justified with irrelevant information. Darren Wilson killed Mike Brown for jaywalking, and it has cost this city millions of dollars, but Ferguson PD STILL remains intact and supported. We have political leaders that lie about what occurs at protests. We’ve seen it before. And to be at level of such distrust that you question if your public servant was just shot by their own, shows that we as a nation have a lot of work to do.
What happened last night was not our message. It was random violence that put the life of EVERYONE, protestors, police, white people, black people, etc. in danger. Remember, whoever shot stood 500 feet BEHIND US. Those bullets could have hit us too. We too were at risk. Black bodies were at risk, which is counterproductive to our cause, especially after things were looking up for the protestors. Since august protestors won their court case against local PDs for their use of tear gas, which is an illegal weapon in international warfare. The department of justice released a report that corroborated our claims about what we’ve experienced at the hands of policemen in our communities. And we’ve had several resignations within a couple days. Last night’s shooting was not a step towards progress for us. We’ve already been winning. This has been a long steadfast effort and change is being reaped. So yes, protests will continue indefinitely because black lives STILL matter. Let’s get free y’all.
Written and edited by Angel Carter, March 12th. All rights reserved. No reproduction of this work permitted without authorization. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. © 2015 Angel Carter
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