‘Ferguson riots – frustration at injustice’
RT:We've already heard accusations that police are using overwhelming force. Can we expect them to react any differently given the unrest? Protests are happening in other cities too - as we've seen - how big could this get?
CM: The reaction of the community in Ferguson - and I observed this directly when I was there - was a reaction of self-defense. They saw their neighbor gunned down and killed. They went out to protest and the response of the police department to their protest was so over the top, so violent with tear gas, canisters being shot, and rubber bullets, that the people decided to defend themselves, have gone out and demonstrated. This situation of law enforcement gunning down an innocent African American man in the US – is nothing new. It didn’t start in Ferguson, Missouri with the murder of Michael Brown. It has been going on for generations. You can go back to the lynching that went on, but here in New York – there was Ramarley Graham killed in his apartment in front of his grandmother. You have so many cases like Eric Garner here in New York who was choked to death. This is a problem that keeps happening.
RT:Protests are happening in other cities too - as we've seen - how big could this get?
CM: When I was in Ferguson I spoke with a number of young people. One of the young people I spoke to said that the reason that the stores were looted was because: if it weren’t for stores being looted no-one would know who Michael Brown is. People are killed all the time by law enforcement and people just continue on with their business. The reason why there has been such a widespread call for justice, the reason that this case has become widespread, is because the people didn’t move on with their lives after that happened. They took history into their own hands, went out into the street and confronted the power structure. If some stories got ratcheted up to bring attention to an innocent man being killed they told me that they felt that was necessary. There are a lot of people who agree with them, they say “Look, this goes on all the time: law enforcement kill the people and they get away with that. It is time that some justice was had”. People have tried peacefully demonstrating, they have tried filing lawsuits in the court and they are not getting justice. This is the frustration.
RT:President Obama has called for restraint from both sides. He's in a tough position. Are people taking on board what he's saying?
CM: Obama may be calling for restraint from what calls “both sides”. But there has been absolutely no restraint from law enforcement in this country when you have people being killed, being choked to death, being brutalized routinely, when you have 2.5 million people in prison. There is no restraint coming from one side. So there is going to be a response. What we are seeing on the streets of Ferguson is that people are responding to the situation and it is continuing to escalate for the last few decades. Even in the times of economic prosperity [African Americans] were the last hired… and they were always victims of brutality. And now as we are in a global capitalistic economic meltdown the situation has become intolerable. People are using words like “genocide.” Because of that they feel that things are getting worse, they have a black president and still [their concerns are not addressed]. And in response people are out in the streets.
RT:Let's look at Ferguson in particular where it all started: what can we expect to happen there next?
CM: Hopefully what is next is that the people in the house of power realize that there is a big problem and they do something to address the fact that the law enforcement is murdering people and getting away with that, and some action is taken. Because if not - things are only going to get worse and the situation is going to escalate. People out in the street are making it clear they are not going to take that anymore.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.