Black Lives Matter

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Black Lives Matter
BLM Letterhead.png
Formation July 13, 2013; 2 years ago
Founders
Type Social movement
Location
Key people
Shaun King
DeRay Mckesson
Johnetta Elzie
Website BlackLivesMatter.com

Black Lives Matter die-in protest atMetro Green Line against allegations of police brutality in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence toward black people. BLM regularly organizes protests around the deaths of black people in killings by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatteron social media, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown, resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, and Eric Garner in New York City.[1][2]

Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody, including those of Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott,Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose, and Freddie Gray, which led to protests and rioting in Baltimore. In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter began to publicly challenge politicians—including politicians in the 2016 United States presidential election—to state their positions on BLM issues. The overall Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a decentralized network and has no formal hierarchy or structure.

Founding

Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks during a Black Lives Matter demonstration inMinneapolis.

In the summer of 2013, after George Zimmerman‘s acquittal for the shooting deathof Trayvon Martin, the movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.[4] The movement was co-founded by three black community organizers: Alicia Garza,Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.[5][6]

BLM claims inspiration from the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, the 1980s Black feminist movement, Pan-Africanism, Anti-Apartheid Movement, Hip hop, LGBTQ social movements and Occupy Wall Street.[7]

Garza, Cullors and Tometi met through “Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity” (BOLD), a national organization that trains community organizers.[7] They began to question how they were going to respond to the devaluation of black lives after Zimmerman’s acquittal. Garza wrote a Facebook post titled “A Love Note to Black People” in which she wrote: “Our Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter”. Cullors replied: “#BlackLivesMatter”. Tometi then added her support, and Black Lives Matter was born as an online campaign.[7]

In August 2014, BLM members organized their first in-person national protest in the form of a “Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride” to Ferguson, Missouri after theshooting of Michael Brown.[7] More than five hundred members descended upon Ferguson to participate in non-violent demonstrations. Of the many groups that descended on Ferguson, Black Lives Matter emerged from Ferguson as one of the best organized and most visible groups, becoming nationally recognized as symbolic of the emerging movement.[7] Since August 2014, Black Lives Matter has organized more than one thousand protest demonstrations. On Black Friday in November, Black Lives Matter staged demonstrations at stores and malls across the United States.[7]

In 2015, after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, black activists around the world modeled efforts for reform on Black Lives Matter and the Arab Spring.[7] This international movement has been referred to as the “Black Spring”.[8][9]Connections have also been forged with parallel international efforts such as the Dalit rights movement.[10] Expanding beyond street protests, BLM has expanded to activism, such as the 2015 University of Missouri protests, on American college campuses.[11]

Currently, there are at least twenty-three Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Ghana.[12] Other Black Lives Matter leaders include: DeRay Mckesson, Shaun King, Marissa Johnson, Nekima Levy-Pounds, and Johnetta Elzie.

Tactics

Black Lives Matter protest against police brutality in St. Paul, Minnesota

Black Lives Matter originally used social media—including hashtag activism—to reach thousands of people rapidly.[7] Since then, Black Lives Matters has embraced a diversity of tactics.[13] BLM generally engages in direct action tactics that make people uncomfortable enough that they must address the issue.[14]

BLM has been known to build power through protest.[15] BLM has held rallies and marches, including one for the death of Corey Jones in Palm Beach, Florida.[16]BLM has also staged die-ins and held one during the 2015 Twin Cities Marathon.[17]

Political slogans used during demonstrations include the eponymous “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands up, don’t shoot” (a later discredited reference attributed to Michael Brown[18]), “I can’t breathe”[19][20] (referring to Eric Garner), “White silence is violence”,[21] “No justice, no peace”,[22][23] and “Is my son next?”,[24] among others.

Most of the protesters actively distinguish themselves from the older generation of black leadership, such as Al Sharpton, by their aversion to middle-class traditions such as church involvement, Democratic Party loyalty, and respectability politics.[25][26]

It is important to note that music is an important repertoire of contention for the black lives matter movement. Rappers such as Kendrick Lamar have used music to promote structural conduciveness necessary for a social movement to maintain momentum according to value added theory.[27] Songs such as “Alright” have been used as a rallying call.[28] Beyoncé‘s most recent production Lemonade featured Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin’s mothers crying while holding the last images they have of their sons, in effect propelling the issue of police brutality to a national stage.[29] The video for her single “Formation” (2016) celebrates southern black culture and features a line of policemen holding up their hands while a hooded black boy dances in front of them. The video also features a shot of graffiti on a wall reading “stop shooting us”.[30]

Memes are also important in garnering support for and against the Black Lives Matter new social movement. Information communication technologies such as Facebook and Twitter spread memes and are important tools for garnering web support in hopes of producing a spillover effect into the offline world.[31] The use of ICTs facilitate the spread of the message “All Lives Matter” as a response to the Black Lives Matter hashtag as well as the “Blue Lives Matter” hashtag as a response to Beyonce’s halftime performance speaking out against police brutality.[32][33]

Philosophy

Black Lives Matter protest at Union Square, Manhattan

Black Lives Matter incorporates those traditionally on the margins of black freedom movements.[7] The organization’s website, for instance, states that Black Lives Matter is “a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes” and, embracing intersectionality, that “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, blackundocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum.”[34]

Founder Alicia Garza summed up the philosophy behind Black Lives Matter as follows: “When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement Black poverty and genocide is state violence. It is an acknowledgment that 1 million Black people are locked in cages in this country–one half of all people in prisons or jails–is an act of state violence. It is an acknowledgment that Black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence.”

Garza went on: “Black queer and trans folks bearing a unique burden in a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us is state violence; the fact that 500,000 Black people in the US are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows is state violence; the fact that Black girls are used as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war is state violence; Black folks living with disabilities and different abilities bear the burden of state-sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by White supremacy is state violence. And the fact is that the lives of Black people—not ALL people—exist within these conditions is consequence of state violence.”[35]

Influence

Black Lives Matter protest at Herald Square, Manhattan

In 2014, the American Dialect Society chose #BlackLivesMatter as their word of the year.[36][37] Over eleven hundred black professors expressed support for BLM.[38]Several media organizations have referred to BLM as “a new civil rights movement”.[1][39][40] #BlackLivesMatter was voted as one of the twelve hashtags that changed the world in 2014.[41]

In 2015, Serena Williams expressed her support for Black Lives Matter, writing to BLM: “Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you. We’ve been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too.”[42]

As a part of a general assembly, the Unitarian Universalist Church passed a resolution in support of BLM and staged a die-in in Portland, Oregon.[43] Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza—as “The Women of #BlackLivesMatter” — were listed as one of the nine runners-up for The Advocates Person of the Year.[44]

The February 2015 issue of Essence Magazine and the cover was devoted to Black Lives Matter.[45] In December 2015, BLM was a contender for the Time Magazine Person of the Year award. Angela Merkel won the award while BLM came in fourth of the eight candidates.[46]

On May 9, 2016 Delrish Moss was sworn in as the first permanent African-American police chief in Ferguson, where he acknowledges he faces such challenges as diversifying the police force, creating dramatic improvements in community relations, and addressing issues that catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement.[47]

Notable protests and demonstrations

2014

Black Lives Matter protester atMacy’s Herald Square.

In August 2014, during Labor Day weekend, Black Lives Matter organized a “Freedom Ride”, that brought more than 500 African-Americans from across the United States into Ferguson, Missouri, to support the work being done on the ground by local organizations.[48]

Black Lives Matter members and supporters rode in from New York City, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Miami, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland, Tucson, Washington, D.C., and more, in a similar way to that of the Freedom Riders in the 1960s.[49] The movement has been generally involved in the Ferguson unrest, following the death of Michael Brown.[50]

In November in Oakland, California, fourteen Black Lives Matter activists were arrested after they stopped a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train for more than an hour on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. The protest, which was led by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, was organized in response to the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Mike Brown.[51][52]

A Black Lives Matter protest of police brutality in the rotunda of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota

In December, 2,000–3,000 people gathered at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police.[53] At least twenty members of a protest that had been using the slogan were arrested.[54] InMilwaukee, Wisconsin, BLM protested the Shooting of Dontre Hamilton, who died in April.[55] Black Lives Matter protested the Shooting of John Crawford III.[56] TheShooting of Renisha McBride was protested by Black Lives Matter.[57]

Also in December, in response to the decision by the grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson on any charges related to the death of Michael Brown, a protest march was held in Berkeley, California. Later, in 2015, protesters and journalists who participated in that rally filed a lawsuit alleging “unconstitutional police attacks” on attendees.[58]

2015

In March, BLM protested at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s office, demanding reforms within the Chicago Police Department.[59] In Cobb County, Georgia, the movement protested the death of Nicholas Thomas who was shot and killed by the police.[60]

In April, Black Lives Matter across the United States protested over the death of Freddie Gray which included the 2015 Baltimore protests.[61][62] Black Lives Matter organizers supported the fast food strike in solidarity with fast food workers, and to oppose racial income inequality.[63] On April 14, BLM protested across U.S. cities.[64] In Zion, Illinois, several hundred protested over the fatal shooting of Justus Howell.[65] After the shooting of Walter Scott, Black Lives Matter called for citizen oversight of police.[66]

In May, a protest by BLM in San Francisco was part of a nationwide protest decrying the police killing of black women and girls, which included the deaths of Meagan Hockaday, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd and others.[67] In Cleveland, Ohio, after an officer was acquitted at trial in the Shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, BLM protested.[68] In Madison, Wisconsin, BLM protested after the officer was not charged in the Shooting of Tony Robinson.[69]

In June, after a shooting in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, BLM issued a statement and condemned the shooting as an act of terror.[70] BLM across the country marched, protested and held vigil for several days after the shooting.[71][72] BLM was part of a march for peace on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in South Carolina.[73] After the Charleston shooting, a number of memorials to the Confederate States of America were graffitied with “Black Lives Matter” or otherwise vandalized.[74][75] Around 800 people protested in McKinney, Texas after a video was released showing an officer pinning a girl—at a pool party in McKinney, Texas—to the ground with his knees.[76]

In July, BLM protesters shut down Allen Road in Toronto, Ontario, protesting the shooting deaths of two black men in the metropolitan area—Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby—at the hands of police.[77] BLM activists across the United States began protests over the death of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman, who was allegedly found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.[78][79] In Cincinnati, Ohio, BLM rallied and protested the Death of Samuel DuBose after he was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer.[80] In Newark, New Jersey, over a thousand BLM activists marched against police brutality, racial injustice, and economic inequality.[81]

In August, BLM organizers held a rally in Washington, D.C., calling for a stop to violence against transgender women.[82] InSt. Louis, Missouri, BLM activists protested the death of Mansur Ball-Bey who was shot and killed by police.[83] In Charlotte, North Carolina, after a judge declared a mistrial in the trial of a white Charlotte police officer who killed an unarmed black man, Jonathan Ferrell, BLM protested and staged die-ins.[84] In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Janelle Monae, Jidenna and other BLM activists marched through North Philadelphia to bring awareness to police brutality and Black Lives Matter.[85]

Around August 9, the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, BLM rallied, held vigil and marched in St. Louis and across the country.[86][87]

One-year commemoration of theShooting of Michael Brown and theFerguson unrest at Barclays Center inBrooklyn, New York

In September, BLM activists shut down streets in Toronto, rallied against police brutality, and stood in solidarity with marginalized black lives. Black Lives Matter was a featured part of the Take Back the Night event in Toronto.[88] In Austin, Texas, over five hundred BLM protesters rallied against police brutality, and several briefly carried protest banners onto Interstate 35.[89] In Baltimore, Maryland, BLM activists marched and protested as hearings began in the Freddie Gray police brutalitycase.[90] In Sacramento, California, about eight hundred BLM protesters rallied to support a California Senate bill that would increase police oversight.[91] BLM protested the Shooting of Jeremy McDole.[92] [[

File:Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality (21552438456).jpg|thumb|Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality at Metro Green Line]]

In October, Black Lives Matters activists were arrested during a protest of a police chiefs conference in Chicago.[93] Activists in Los Angeles Black Lives Matter activists were among several organizations that disrupted a community meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a church in South L.A.[94] The protesters said that Garcetti had broken a promise to work with their organization to plan a meeting. The pastor of the church that hosted the meeting denied that Black Lives Matter organizers had been excluded.[95]

“Rise Up October” straddled the Black Lives Matter Campaign, and brought several protests.[96] Quentin Tarantino andCornel West, participating in “Rise Up October”, decried police violence.[97] A Dunkin Donuts employee in Providence, Rhode Island wrote “black lives matter” on a police officer’s cup of coffee which resulted in protests.[clarification needed][98] AtUCLA, students protested “Black Bruins Matter” after some students wore blackface to a Kanye West-themed fraternityparty.[99]

In November, BLM activists protested after Jamar Clark was shot by Minneapolis Police Department.[100] A continuous protest was organized at the Minneapolis 4th Precinct Police. During the encamped protest, protestors and outside agitators clashed with police, vandalized the station and attempted to ram the station with an SUV.[101][102][103] Later that month a march was organized to honor Jamar Clark, from the 4th Precinct to downtown Minneapolis. After the march, a group of men carrying firearms and body armor[104] appeared and began calling the protesters racial slurs according to a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter. After protesters asked the armed men to leave, the men opened fire, shooting five protesters.[105][106] All injuries required hospitalization, but were not life-threatening. The men fled the scene only to be found later and arrested. The three men arrested were young and white, and observers called them white supremacists.[107][108]

In November 2015, students at Dartmouth College held a peaceful meeting and march after a Black Lives Matter art installation on the campus was vandalized. After the march, a smaller group of students entered the university library and conducted a protest there.[109] The Dartmouth Review, a conservative campus publication, reported that the protesters had shoved other students and used profanity. Campus police and college officials claimed they had not observed any incidents of shoving or other physical violence.[110]

2016

In January, hundreds of BLM protesters marched in San Francisco to protest the December 2, 2015 shooting death of Mario Woods, who was shot by San Francisco Police officers. The march was held during a Super Bowl event.[111]

In late May, BLM activists[disputed ] disrupted a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos at DePaul University. Security did not intervene to stop the protests, despite the university requiring organizers to cover the cost of additional security.[112][113]

On July 7, a sniper attack occurred during a rally in Dallas, Texas[114] that was organized to protest the death of Alton Sterling. Five police officers were killed, and seven wounded. Two civilians were also shot, bringing the total number of victims to fourteen. Initial reports were of multiple coordinated snipers, but officials later reported that the suspect, Micah Johnson, who was killed in the incident, acted alone. Before he died, according to police, Johnson said that “he was upset about Black Lives Matter”, and that “he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”[115][115] Texas Lt. GovernorDan Patrick and other conservative lawmakers blamed the shootings on the Black Lives Matter movement.[116][117] The Black Lives Matter network released a statement denouncing the shootings.[118][119][120]

2016 presidential election

In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter began to publicly challenge politicians—including 2016 United States presidential candidates—to state their positions on BLM issues.[121]

Influence

Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter activists in Westlake Park, Seattle

In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution supporting Black Lives Matter.[122]

In the first Democratic debate, the presidential candidates were asked whether black lives matter or all lives matter.[123] In reply, Bernie Sanders stated “black lives matter.”[123] Martin O’Malley said, “Black lives matter,” and that the “movement is making is a very, very legitimate and serious point, and that is that as a nation we have undervalued the lives of black lives, people of color.”[124] Jim Webb, on the other hand, replied: “as the president of the United States, every life in this country matters.”[123] Hillary Clinton was not directly asked the same question, but was instead asked: “What would you do for African Americans in this country that President Obama couldn’t?”[125]

In response to what she would do differently from President Obama for African-Americans, Hillary Clinton pushed for criminal justice reform, and said, “We need a new New Deal for communities of color.”[126] Clinton had already met with Black Lives Matter representatives in August 2015, and expressed skepticism in the movement’s practical application.[clarification needed][127] In June 2015, Clinton was reported to have said “All lives matter.”[128]

Republican candidates have been mostly critical of BLM. In August 2015, Ben Carson, the only African American vying for the presidency, called the movement “silly”.[129] Carson also said that BLM should care for all black lives, not just a few.[130]In the first Republican presidential debate, which took place in Cleveland, only one question referenced Black Lives Matter.[131] In response to the question, Scott Walker did not acknowledge Black Lives Matter and advocated for the proper training of law enforcement.[131]

Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker blamed the movement for rising anti-police sentiment,[132] while Marco Rubio was the first candidate to publicly sympathize with the movement’s point of view.[133]

Several conservative pundits have labeled the movement a “hate group”.[134] Candidate Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, criticized President Obama for supporting BLM, claiming the movement calls for the murder of police officers,[135]which was condemned by New Jersey chapters of the NAACP and ACLU.[136]

BLM activists called on the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee to have a presidential debate focused on issues of racial justice.[137] Both parties, however, declined to alter their debate schedule, and instead the parties support a townhall or forum.[138]

Protests

Black Lives Matter on Black Friday2014 at Times Square

At the Netroots Nation Conference in July 2015, dozens of Black Lives Matter activists took over the stage at an event featuring Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. Activists, including Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, asked both candidates for specific policy proposals to address deaths in police custody.[139] The protesters chanted several slogans, including “if I die in police custody, burn everything down”. After conference organizers pleaded with the protesters for several minutes, O’Malley responded by pledging to release a wide-ranging plan for criminal justice reform. Protesters later booed O’Malley when he stated “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”[140] O’Malley later apologized for his remarks, saying that he didn’t mean to disrespect the black community.[140]

On August 8, 2015, a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders was disrupted by a group from the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter including chapter co-founder Marissa Johnson[141] who walked onstage, seized the microphone from him and called his supporters racists and white supremacists.[142][143][144] Sanders issued a platform in response.[145]

Nikki Stephens, the operator of a Facebook page called “Black Lives Matter: Seattle” issued an apology to Sanders’ supporters, claiming these actions did not represent her understanding of BLM. She was then sent messages by members of the Seattle Chapter which she described as threatening, and was forced to change the name of her group to “Black in Seattle”. The founders of Black Lives Matter stated that they had not issued an apology.[146]

In August, activists chanting “Black Lives Matter” interrupted the Las Vegas rally of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush.[147] As Bush exited early, some of his supporters started responding to the protesters by chanting “white lives matter” or “all lives matter”.[148]

In October, a speech by Hillary Clinton on criminal justice reform and race at Atlanta University Center was interrupted by BLM activists.[149]

In November, a BLM protester was physically assaulted at a Donald Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. In response, Trump said, “maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”[150] Trump had previously threatened to fight any Black Lives Matter protesters if they attempted to speak at one of his events.[151]

In March 2016, Black Lives Matter helped organize the 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest that forced Trump to cancel the event.[152][153] Four individuals were arrested and charged in the incident. Two were “charged with felony aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest”, one was “charged with two misdemeanor counts of resisting and obstructing a peace officer”, and the fourth “was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting and obstructing a peace officer”.[154] A CBS reporter was one of those arrested outside the rally. He was charged with resisting arrest.[155]

“All Lives Matter”

Some politicians,[who?] critics,[who?] and scholars[who?] have responded to the Black Lives Matter movement by countering that the phrase “All Lives Matter” would be a more proper title.[citation needed] Tim Scott has defended the usage of the “All Lives Matter” term.[156]

On Real Time with Bill Maher Bill Maher expressed support of the “Black Lives Matter” phrase, stating that “‘All Lives Matter’ implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they’re not”.[157] Founders have responded to criticism of the movement’s exclusivity, saying, “#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important – it means that Black lives, which are seen without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation.”[158]

In a video interview with Laura Flanders, Garza discussed how “changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is a demonstration of how we don’t actually understand structural racism in this country”. She went on to discuss how other lives are valued more than black lives, which she strongly feels is wrong, and that to take blackness out of this equation is inappropriate.[159]

The movement challenges the “universalizing politics” implied in the notion of a Post-racial America, and the phrase ‘All Lives Matter’ reflects a view of “racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial”, according to critical race theory scholar David Theo Goldberg.[160]

President Barack Obama spoke to the debate between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.[161] Obama said, “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities.” He also said “that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”[14]

On February 24, 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, sent out a company-wide internal memo to employees formally rebuking employees who had crossed out handwritten “Black Lives Matter” phrases on the company walls and had written “All Lives Matter” in their place. Facebook allows employees to free-write thoughts and phrases on company walls. The memo was then leaked by several employees. As Zuckerberg had previously condemned this practice at previous company meetings, and other similar requests had been issued by other leaders at Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote in the memo that he would now consider this overwriting practice not only disrespectful, but “malicious as well”.[162]

According to Zuckerberg’s memo, “Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean other lives don’t – it’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve.” The memo noted that the act of crossing something out in itself, “means silencing speech, or that one person’s speech is more important than another’s”.[163][164][165]

Criticism

Issues protested

African-American critics of the movement include neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, minister Johnathan Gentry of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, and author and minister Barbara Ann Reynolds.[166][167]

Deroy Murdock questioned the number of black people killed by police that is reported by BLM. He wrote, “But the notion that America’s cops simply are gunning down innocent black people is one of today’s biggest and deadliest lies.”[168] The hashtag #BlueLivesMatter was created by supporters who stood up for police officers’ lives.[169] Some critics also accuse Black Lives Matter of “anti-white and anti-police radicalism”.[170]

Many individuals in law enforcement have been critical of BLM. Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr of Milwaukee County has been critical of Black Lives Matter, stating that there is no police brutality problem in America and that “there is no racism in the hearts of police officers”.[171] John McWhorter said that the Black Lives Matter movement should take on black-on-black crime.[172]

Seattle Seahawks Richard Sherman said about the “Black Lives Matter” movement, “I dealt with a best friend getting killed, and it was [by] two 35-year-old black men. There was no police officer involved, there wasn’t anybody else involved, and I didn’t hear anybody shouting ‘black lives matter’ then.”[173]

Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos has criticized the structure and main goals of the BLM movement.[174]

Tactics

See also: Ferguson effect

Some black civil rights leaders, such as Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, Najee Ali, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, have criticized the tactics of BLM.[175] Marchers using a BLM banner were recorded in a video chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” at the Minnesota State Fair. Law enforcement groups said that the chant promotes death to police. The protest organizer disputed that interpretation.[176]

A North Carolina police chief retired after calling BLM a terrorist group.[177] A police officer in Oregon was removed from street duty following a social media post in which he said he would have to “babysit these fools”, in reference to planned BLM event.[178]

Some commentators and law enforcement have said that BLM has made it hard for police to do their job, leading to a rise in crime rates.[168] Commentators have referred to this as the “Ferguson effect.”[168] FBI Director James Comey, for example, suggested that the movement is partly leading to a national rise in crime rates because police officers have pulled back from doing their jobs.[179] However, there had been even larger crime spikes prior to the events in Ferguson.[180]

White groups

In response to BLM, Facebook pages purporting to represent “White Student Unions” with the slogan “White Lives Matter” have been linked to college campuses in the United States.[181] The pages often promise a “safe space” for white students and condemn alleged anti-white racism on campus.[182] However, many of the groups were not verified as legitimate student organizations registered with their respective universities.[181]

Media depictions

  • Black Lives Matter appeared in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.[4][35]
  • The TV drama Scandal depicted Black Lives Matter on their March 5, 2015, episode that showed an unarmed black teen shot by a police officer.[183]
  • The documentary short film Bars4Justice features brief appearances by various activists and recording artists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. The film is an official selection of the 24th Annual Pan African Film Festival.

See also

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Ferguson unrest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown. For coverage of events immediately surrounding the shooting, see Shooting of Michael Brown.
Ferguson unrest
Ferguson Day 6, Picture 44.png

Policemen using tear gas during the first wave of the Ferguson unrest
Date First wave:
August 9, 2014 – August 25, 2014[1]

(2 weeks and 2 days)
Second wave:
November 24, 2014[2] – December 2, 2014[3]
(1 week and 1 day)
Location Ferguson, Missouri, U.S.
Causes First wave: Shooting of Michael Brown
Second wave: Darren Wilson not indicted
Methods Peaceful protests, vandalism, looting, rioting, arson, and gunshots fired
Arrests and injuries
Injuries 7 members of the public injured[4]
6 police officers injured[5]
Arrested 205 members of the public[6][7]

An ongoing series of protests and civil disorder began the day after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a policeman on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. The unrest sparked a vigorous debate in the United States about the relationship between law enforcement officers and African Americans, the militarization of the police, and theuse of force doctrine in Missouri and nationwide.

As the details of the original shooting event emerged from investigators, police established curfews and deployed riot squads to maintain order. Along with peaceful protests, there was looting and violent unrest in the vicinity of the original shooting. According to media reports, there was police militarization when dealing with protests in Ferguson.[8][9] The unrest continued on November 24, 2014, after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown.[10]

In response to the shooting and subsequent unrest, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted an investigation into the policing practices of the Ferguson Police Department (FPD).[11][12] In March 2015, the U.S. Justice Department announced that they had determined that the FPD had engaged in misconduct against the citizenry of Ferguson, by discriminating against African-Americans and applying racial stereotypes, in a “pattern or practice of unlawful conduct”.[13][14]

Background[edit]

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American male, was shot to death after an altercation with Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white male Ferguson policeman.[15][16][17] Brown was a suspect in a robbery committed minutes before the shooting.[18][19][20][21] After several months of deliberation, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Wilson for any criminal charges in relation to the incident.[22]

The police response to the shooting was heavily criticized, as was the slow rate of information making its way out to the public. Many of the documents from the grand jury were released when the grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson.[22]

Events[edit]

A U.S. Marine corporal offers words of encouragement to protesters.

The looted, burned-out QuikTrip gas station in Ferguson.

Protests at Ferguson on August 14, 2014

August 2014[edit]

On August 9, the evening of the shooting, residents had created a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles in the spot where Brown died. An unidentified policeman reportedly allowed a dog under his control to urinate on the memorial. Police vehicles later crushed the memorial. These incidents inflamed tensions among bystanders, according to Missourian state representative Sharon Pace, who told Mother Jones, “That made people in the crowd mad and it made me mad.”[23] On August 10, a day of memorials began peacefully, but some crowd members became unruly after an evening candlelight vigil.[24]Local police stations assembled approximately 150 officers in riot gear.[25]Some people began looting businesses, vandalizing vehicles, and confronting police officers who sought to block off access to several areas of the city.[24] At least 12 businesses were looted or vandalized and a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station was set on fire, leading to over 30 arrests. Many windows were broken and several nearby businesses closed on Monday.[26] The people arrested face charges of assault, burglary, and theft. Police used a variety of equipment, including riot gear and helicopters, to disperse the crowd by 2:00 a.m.[27] Two police officers suffered minor injuries during the events.[28]

On August 11, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd at the burnt shell of the QuikTrip[27] convenience store, set on fire by looters the night before. According to reports, gunshots were fired in Ferguson and five people were arrested.[29][30] Some protesters threw rocks at police officers. The police responded by firing tear gas and bean bag rounds upon those protesting, which included state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal.[31]

On August 12, several hundred protesters gathered in Clayton, the county seat, seeking criminal prosecution of the officer involved in the shooting.[32]Protesters in Ferguson carried signs and many held their hands in the air while shouting “don’t shoot!” According to police, some protesters threw bottles at the officers, prompting the use of tear gas to disperse the crowd.[33] The following day, a SWAT team of around 70 officers arrived at a protest demanding that protesters disperse.[34] That night, police used smoke bombs, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Video footage of the events recorded by KARG Argus Radio shows Ferguson Police firing tear gas into a residential neighborhood and ordering the journalist to cease recording.[35][36][37]

Between August 12 and 13, police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at lines of protesters and reporters. At least seven protesters were arrested on the evening of August 12 and 13, after police told protesters to “‘go home’ or face arrest.”[38] CNN cameras filmed an officer addressing a group of protesters by saying “Bring it, you fucking animals, bring it.”[39] On the night of August 12, a peaceful protester was shot in the head non-fatally by an unknown party. The gunshot survivor, Mya Aaten-White, has criticized the police for not investigating her case in a timely manner.[40]

As night fell on August 13, protesters threw projectiles, including Molotov cocktails, and police launched tear gas and smoke bombs.[41] While police were clearing a McDonald’s restaurant, The Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilley were arrested.[42] Officers reportedly asked them to leave first, gave them a 45-second countdown when they were not moving fast enough, and ultimately resorted to more forceful measures to remove people from the McDonald’s.[42] “Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,” Lowery said.[43][44] Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, issued a statement, saying “there was absolutely no justification for Wesley Lowery’s arrest,” and that the police behavior “was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news”.[45]

Al Jazeera America journalists including correspondent Ash-har Quraishi covering the protests in Ferguson on Wednesday night were also tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets by a police SWAT team. An officer was captured on video turning the reporters’ video camera toward the ground and dismantling their equipment.[46][47][48][49] Al Jazeera America issued a statement, calling the incident an “egregious assault on the freedom of the press that was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on our ability to cover this important story”.[50] On Thursday, August 14, the St. Charles County Regional SWAT Team put out a press release stating that “… the SWAT Team has not been any part of attempting to prevent media coverage” and that the SWAT team had helped journalists move their equipment at their request.[47] A raw video captured a vehicle marked clearly as “St. Charles County SWAT” rolling up to the Al Jazeera lights and camera and taking them down.[51]

A police marksman aiming down the sights in response to civil unrest

Tom Jackson, the Ferguson police chief denied any suppression of the media. U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the First Amendment violations, saying, “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”[52]

St. Louis alderman Antonio French, who was documenting the protests for social media, was also arrested by police in Ferguson on Wednesday night.[53] French said that he went into his car to escape tear gas and smoke bombs being thrown by police. While he was in his car, police approached him, dragging him out of the car. French was arrested for unlawful assembly.[54] Speaking to reporters after his release from jail on Thursday, French described the dozen or so other people arrested as “peacekeepers”. “Inside that jail is nothing but peacekeepers,” he said. “They rounded up the wrong people … reverends, young people organizing the peace effort.”[55][56][57]

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), a large coalition of media and press freedom groups, wrote to police forces in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the harassment of journalists covering the protests.[58][59]

United States Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) talking to protesters in Ferguson

On August 14, United States Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) stated that “militarization of the police escalated the protesters’ response”.[60] St. Louis Chief of Police Sam Dotson stated he would not have employed military-style policing such as that which transpired. According to Chief Dotson, “My gut told me what I was seeing were not tactics that I would use in the city and I would never put officers in situations that I would not do myself.” Another reason Dotson did not want the city and county police to collaborate was because of the history of racial profiling by county police. In an email to a St. Louis alderman who brought up concerns of racial profiling, he wrote: “I agree and removed our tactical assistance. We did not send tactical resources to Ferguson on Tuesday or Wednesday. Our only assistance was that of four traffic officers to help divert traffic and keep both pedestrians and motorists safe. On Thursday we will have no officers assisting Ferguson.”[61]

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald S. Johnson was asked to take over law enforcement jurisdiction at Ferguson

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said at a press conference that the Missouri State Highway Patrol would take over policing Ferguson from the St. Louis County police, whose tactics were widely criticized, referring to the change as “an operational shift”, and that police will use force “only when necessary”, and will generally “step back a little bit”.[53] Nixon said that Ferguson security will be overseen by Captain Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol. Johnson, an African-American, said he grew up in the community and “it means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence.”[62] Nixon said, “The people of Ferguson want their streets to be free of intimidation and fear” he said, but during the past few days, “it looked a little bit more like a war zone and that’s not acceptable.”[53] St. Louis county prosecutorRobert P. McCulloch criticized the governor’s decision, saying “It’s shameful what he did today; he had no legal authority to do that. To denigrate the men and women of the county police department is shameful.”[63]

In the evening hours of August 14, Captain Johnson walked with and led a large, peaceful march in Ferguson.[64]

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson at the August 14, 2014 news conference

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson announced the name of the officer involved in the shooting in a news conference the morning of Friday, August 15, nearly a week after the officer shot Brown on Saturday afternoon. Jackson prefaced the name announcement by describing a “strong-arm” robbery that had occurred a few minutes before the shooting at a nearby convenience store called Ferguson Market & Liquor. A police report released to members of the media at the news conference described Brown as the suspect involved in the robbery.[65] Hours later, Jackson held another news conference in which he said Wilson wasn’t aware of the robbery when he stopped Brown.[66]

On Friday night, protests continued in “an almost celebratory manner” near theQuikTrip[67][68] until police arrived at around 11:00 p.m.[69][70] At around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, rioters broke into and looted the Ferguson Market & Liquor store that Brown allegedly robbed prior to his shooting, as well as other nearby businesses; after the initial break-in, a group of protesters and observers gathered near the storefronts of the looted businesses in an attempt to prevent further looting.[71]

Law enforcement responding to civil unrest, August 17, 2014

As a result of looting and disruption the night before, on August 16, Nixon declared in a press conference a state of emergency and implemented nightlycurfews in Ferguson from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Some residents at the press conference said that law enforcement officers had instigated the violence with their military-like tactics.[72] Johnson said that police would not enforce the curfew with armored trucks and tear gas, and that police will communicate with protesters and give them time and opportunity to leave before curfew.[73]

In the early hours of August 17, tear gas and tactical units were used, despite prior assurances. One of the protesters was shot and critically wounded; police have claimed that they did not fire any shots.[74] Seven other individuals were arrested.[75][76] Later that morning, a Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman announced that the curfew would be extended for a second day.[77]

Protests at Ferguson on August 17, 2014

On August 18, after violent clashes during the imposed curfew, Nixon issued an executive order calling in the National Guard to “help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson.”[78] Nixon also announced that there would be no curfew on the night of August 18.[79] Amnesty International sent a 13-person contingent of human rights activists to seek meetings with officials as well as to train local activists in non-violent protest methods.[80] Police were recorded threatening the media with mace.[81][82] A photojournalist, Scott Olson, was also arrested by officers.[83] After being briefed by Attorney General Eric Holder on the events, President Obama dispatched Holder to Ferguson to monitor the unrest there.[84]

On the night of August 18, after several hundred protesters, some of whom were seen throwing bottles, charged toward a wall of police 60 wide and five deep, members of the crowd pushed them back including clergymen and community leaders locking arms, averting a more serious confrontation.[85] 78 individuals were arrested, including The Intercepts Ryan Devereaux.[86] German journalists Ansgar Graw and Frank Hermann reported being placed under arrest by an unidentified officer who would only identify himself as “Donald Duck”.[87]

Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, at the funeral of Michael Brown

On August 20, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Ferguson, where he met with residents as well as Brown’s family.[88] Only six individuals were arrested, compared to 47 arrests the prior night.[89] Nixon then withdrew the National Guard from Ferguson on August 21 after witnessing improvements among the social unrest.[90] On August 23, protests continued to be peaceful, although three more arrests were made.[91] During the same day, a rally of 50 to 70 people was held in Ferguson in support of Wilson under the banner “I am Darren Wilson”,[92] and as of August 25, nearly US$400,000 were raised by supporters in an online crowdfunding campaign. The online campaign drew a number of racist comments, which forced the website to shut down the comment section.[93][94]

Brown’s family asked that supporters suspend their protests for one day out of respect for the funeral proceedings, planned for August 25. “All I want tomorrow is peace while we lay our son to rest. Please, that’s all I ask,” Brown’s father said.[95] The service was attended by thousands of people, including 2,500 filling the sanctuary, and others in an overflow auditorium which was also full. An estimated 2,000 additional people were on church property for the funeral. Eric Davis, one of Brown’s cousins, said at the funeral, “[s]how up at the voting booths. Let your voices be heard, and let everyone know that we have had enough of all of this.”[96]

September 2014[edit]

Early on September 23, a memorial to Michael Brown on Canfield Drive burned to the ground. Protesters gathered at the site.[97] Later on the same day, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson released a video apology to the Brown family.[why?][98] The burned memorial was set up again.[99]

That evening, several hundreds of protesters gathered, asking for Jackson’s resignation, in front of the police headquarters, protected by 50 police officers[98] Jackson joined the protest and started to explain that changes were underway after Brown’s killing, creating some agitation in the crowd. Within minutes, police officers intervened to protect their chief.[98]Several protesters were arrested and later the protest was declared unlawful.[98]

On September 26, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division asked Jackson to prohibit police officers from wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets when on duty. In a previous letter earlier that week, it had asked that police officers wear nametags.[100]

On the evening of September 28, a large crowd protested. Bottles and rocks were thrown at officers. Support from other police forces was requested. Eight protesters were arrested on failure to disperse and resisting arrest charges. As most are first-time offenders, they will be released without bond.[101]

On September 29, protesters gathered in front of the police building, including a dozen clergy members who prayed in the police parking. They were told that they would be arrested if they did not clear the street. A clergyman was then arrested. Protesters were also told that they would be arrested if the chants went on after 11:00 p.m. About that time, police moved slowly forward, but protesters refused to move backwards. As they were almost in contact, gunshots were heard, and both sides backed up. Later, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol told the crowd that the “five-second rule” would not be implemented and there would be no arrest as long as the protest remained peaceful.[102]

October 2014[edit]

On October 2, St. Louis County Police and Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested more than a dozen people,[103] including Mary Moore, a freelance journalist who has worked for CNN.[104] Protesters were charged with offenses that included failure to comply with police, noise ordinance violations and resisting arrest. They had to wear orange jumpsuits. Bonds were highest at $2,700, then reduced to $1,000.[103] Police dismantled an encampment that lasted a few weeks on West Florissant. Police and protesters are adapting constantly to the other side’s moves (“It’s a legal clinic on these streets.”). The city has recently raised bonds from $100 to $1,000.[99]

On October 3, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson ceded responsibility for managing protests in the city to the St. Louis County police department. The limited resources of Ferguson police made it difficult to handle daily protests after their resumption the previous week.[105]

On October 4, about 50 protesters briefly delayed a concert of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Just before the performance resumed after intermission, they started singing an old civil rights tune, unfurled three hand-painted banners and scattered paper hearts that read: “Requiem for Mike Brown”. After that, they left the building peacefully.[106]

On Monday evening, October 6, after a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball supporters and protesters had a chanting battle outside the stadium.[107]

A website, Ferguson October, as well as other organizations, planned a massive week of resistance throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. The event, Ferguson October, began on Friday afternoon when protesters peacefully marched to County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s office in Clayton, Missouri.[108] Later until around 2:30 a.m., mostly peaceful protests took place in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood. As many as 400 people took to the streets on Friday night. On October 9, 2014, Ferguson October sparked the activation of the St. Louis County Emergency Center in anticipation.[109]Police are also working longer shifts and the Missouri National Guard can be activated if needed.[108]

On October 12, a Ferguson October rally and service was held at Chaifetz Arena. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clergy addressed the crowd. Younger activists criticized older activists for not being radical enough. When the keynote speaker,Cornel West, took the stage, he said, “I didn’t come here to give a speech. I came here to go to jail!”[110]

On October 13, protesters attempted to cross police lines to meet with officers at the Ferguson Police Department. Dozens of protesters, estimated to be over 50, were arrested, during a staged and peaceful act of disobedience, including clergy and Cornel West.[111]

On October 20, Missouri Senator Jamilah Nasheed was arrested in front of the Ferguson Police Department building for blocking traffic in the street and not respecting police orders. She was taken into custody, along with a man who was accompanying her, and refused bond.[112][113][114]

November 2014[edit]

On November 17, the governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency in anticipation of protests in Ferguson following the announcement of the results of the grand jury.[115]

On November 21, two alleged members of the New Black Panther Party were arrested for buying explosives they planned to detonate during protests. The same pair is also indicted for purchasing two pistols under false pretenses.[116]

On November 24, the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in the shooting death of Brown.[117] Following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Michael Brown’s stepfather Louis Head yelled to the crowd of protesters in front of the police department: “Burn this bitch down!”[118] There were peaceful protests as well as rioting. A dozen buildings were burned down; there was gunfire, looting, vandalism, and destruction of two St. Louis County Police patrol cars, as well as burning of various non-police cars.[119][120][121] Police in Ferguson deployed tear gas and ordered protesters in the street to disperse. There were 61 people arrested in Ferguson on charges including burglary and trespassing. In one case, firefighters evacuated the scene of a fire due to gunshots being heard, and for the same reason could not respond to other fires.[122][123]

On November 25, the body of 20-year-old DeAndre Joshua was found inside a parked car within a few blocks of where Brown was killed. Police initially classified the death as suspicious, later ruling it a homicide.[124] The man had been shot in the head and burned.[125] That same day, CNN reported that thousands of people rallied to protest the grand jury’s decision in more than 170 U.S. cities from Boston to Los Angeles, and that National Guard forces were reinforced at Ferguson to prevent the situation from escalating.[126] At least 90 people were arrested for arson, looting, and vandalism in Oakland, California.[127] Protests also took place internationally, with demonstrations held in several major cities in Canada[128] and inLondon, United Kingdom.[129] Calls by protesters to boycott the Black Friday shopping day, which took place the Friday after the grand jury decision, were heeded in the St. Louis region, with hundreds of demonstrators disrupting shopping activity at the Saint Louis Galleria and other area shopping centers.[130]

On November 27, Governor Nixon reportedly rejected calls for a new grand jury to decide whether to charge Wilson over Brown’s killing.[131]

December 2014[edit]

On December 2, volunteer security guards associated with the Oath Keepers kept their watch on Ferguson roofs, even after the police told them to stop doing so.[132]

March 2015[edit]

On the night of March 11, 2015, around 12:00 a.m. CST, protests ensued throughout the city of Ferguson following the announcement of the chief of police’s resignation. Under a mutual separation agreement, police chief Thomas Jackson would be paid one year of annual salary (nearly $96,000) with health benefits, with his resignation effective March 19. Lieutenant Colonel Al Eickhoff was declared acting chief pending the hiring of a replacement.[133] According to a report by Susan Weich of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there were two sets of protesters, one peacefully chanting slogans, and the other, “volatile, angry, hurling profanities at the police, media and other protesters”.[134]

In the early morning hours of March 12, two police officers were shot outside the Ferguson police station. Though approximately 100 protesters remained on the other side of South Florissant Road adjacent to the police line, witnesses believed the shooter was on the top of a hill approximately 220 yards from the police station.[135] A 41-year-old officer from the St. Louis County Police Department was hit in the shoulder, and a 32-year-old officer from the Webster Groves Police Department was hit in the cheek.[136] The St. Louis County police chief said that at least three shots were fired parallel to the ground rather than up into the air (not “skip shots”) and therefore assumed his officers were the target.[137][138] An “intense manhunt” was launched for the person or persons responsible for the shooting.[139]

On March 14, Jeffrey L. Williams, age 20,[140] was arrested in connection with the shooting of the police officers. Williams, who is black and was on probation for possession of stolen property,[140] had admitted to firing the shots but said that he was not aiming at police. According to Williams’ attorney, he was intending on retaliating against a person who robbed him earlier on the day of the shooting.[141] Police recovered a .40-caliber handgun that matched the spent cartridges found at the crime scene.[136] On April 1, the Associated Press reported that during phone conversations, Williams confessed to firing back at an unidentified person who was shooting at him during the March 12 protest. His attorney had previously claimed Williams never discharged a firearm during the shooting.[142]

Related incidents[edit]

Ray Albers[edit]

St. Ann police officer Ray Albers, who was suspended for pointing his rifle at peaceful protesters[143]

Ray Albers of the St. Ann Police Department was suspended indefinitely from his duties after an incident at a protest in Ferguson that was captured on video. According to St. Louis County police, he pointed a semi-automatic service rifle at peaceful protesters while using profanity and threatening to kill them.[144][145][146][147]

Albers was recorded on video saying, “I will f—ing [sic] kill you.”[148][149] When asked to identify himself, Albers replied, “Go f— [sic] yourself.”[148] This led the ACLU to write to law enforcement demanding action.[148][149] A repercussion of his actions was that while his identification was pending, Albers was widely referred to on social media asOfficer Go Fuck Yourself.[148][150][151]

Albers resigned eight days later on August 28.[152][153][154]

Dan Page[edit]

On August 22, St. Louis County Police officer Dan Page, who was filmed pushing CNN’s Don Lemon, was relieved of duty after a video emerged of an inflammatory speech Page had given to the St. Louis and St. Charles chapter of the Oath Keepers.[155] He retired three days later.[154][156]

Matthew Pappert[edit]

Glendale police officer Matthew Pappert, who had patrolled in Ferguson during the protests, was suspended for controversial postings to Facebook, such as “[t]hese protesters should have been put down like a rabid dog the first night” and “[w]here is a Muslim with a backpack when you need him?” (referring to the Boston Marathon bombings).[157][158][159]Journalists in Ferguson claimed Pappert had threatened them.[158] Pappert was ultimately fired from the department after the conclusion of an internal investigation.[152][154]

Kajieme Powell[edit]

On August 19, Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old African American man, was shot and killed by two St. Louis police officers several miles from Ferguson, in what police officials said a witness described as “suicide by cop“.[160] The police initially issued a statement, based on witness reports, saying that Powell came within three or four feet of the officers, holding a knife in an overhand grip. Subsequently, the police released a cell phone video filmed by bystanders showing that Powell was not as close to the officers as first reported and he had his hands at his sides. Powell was advancing toward the officers with the knife, shouting “Shoot me, shoot me now” when he was shot multiple times, as documented in the video.[161]

Lawsuit against police and local governments[edit]

A $40 million federal lawsuit was filed on August 28 by five protesters who were arrested between August 11–13. It alleges that police officers used unnecessary force and made unjustified arrests.[162] Four more protesters were added as plaintiffs in October.[163] The lawsuit lists various police officials, officers, the Ferguson city government and the St. Louis county government as defendants.[162]

Vonderrit Myers Jr.[edit]

On October 8, 2014, Vonderrit Myers Jr. was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in St. Louis. Police said he had a gun and shot at them, while family members and others said Meyers was only holding a sandwich.[164] Following the shooting, there were multiple nights of protests.[165][166] Forensic evidence later confirmed that Myers had gunshot residue on his right hand, shirt, and pants, indicating that he had fired a gun. Three bullets fired at police matched Myers’s gun.[167][168][169] The family’s attorney noticed that police versions differ about the weapon Myers allegedly used: first, police mentioned a 9mm Ruger, and later a 9mm Smith & Wesson.[170] An independent autopsy by Dr. Cyril H. Wecht found that six of the eight wounds were at the back of the body.[171] Police investigators served Wecht with a subpoena for his results. The funeral was held on October 26.[172]

Antonio Martin[edit]

On December 24, 2014, 18-year-old Antonio Martin was shot and killed by a St. Louis County police officer in Berkeley, Missouri. Police said Martin had a gun at the time he was killed. The incident provoked additional violent protests in the area.[173]

Related developments[edit]

Town hall meetings[edit]

In order to develop dialogue between authorities and residents, a series of five town meetings in October and November have been set up by City leaders. The DOJ’s Community Relations Service is involved and the meetings will be closed to the media and non-residents.[174]

Voter registration[edit]

It was (incorrectly) reported that 3,200 inhabitants (out of 21,000) had registered to vote in Ferguson since Michael Brown’s death.[175] Later, the election board stated that the released numbers were inaccurate and only 128 new voter registrations occurred. The larger number was the total number of interactions with Ferguson voters, including address changes or other alterations.[176][177]

Ferguson PR sub-contractor fired[edit]

Devin James, a minority PR person, was fired by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. James worked directly with the Ferguson Police Chief and seems to be the one who suggested the video apology, among other things.[178] The Partnership was informed that James served a 90-day work farm sentence in 2009 for reckless homicide. During an armed robbery in 2004, he shot 8 times and killed one of his two assailants. Earlier in 2004, he was shot in the shoulder during another armed robbery. After a troubled youth, James managed to attend university, but the two robberies prevented him from obtaining a degree.[179] James kept his position on a pro bono basis.

Injunction against “keep moving” rule at peaceful protests[edit]

On September 29, the ACLU asked a federal court to order police to stop using the “keep moving” rule during protests in Ferguson, which prevented people from standing still under threat of arrest. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar testified that the rule was meant to be used for the most volatile night protests during curfew and was mistakenly used by some officers at calm protests during the day.[180] On October 6, Chief Judge Catherine D. Perry, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, ruled that “The practice of requiring peaceful demonstrators and others to walk, rather than stand still, violates the constitution,” and issued an injunction against the practice for peaceful, law-abiding protesters in Ferguson.[181]

Rebuilding process[edit]

The QuikTrip that was looted and burned during the first night of unrest will be rebuilt as a job training center as part of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis “empowering communities” effort. The center, when complete, will house the new Save Our Sons program. St. Louis area companies have contributed $1.2 million toward the effort, meant to give young jobless or underemployed men a month’s training before matching them with area jobs. [182]

Racial context[edit]

According to The Washington Post, the incident sparked unrest in Ferguson largely due to questions of racism as a factor in the shooting.[183] Protests,[184] vandalism, and other forms of social unrest continued for more than a week,[185] with night curfew being imposed and escalated violence.[186][187] Several of the stores looted during the unrest are Asian Americanowned, with The Daily Beast writing that Asian Americans tend to be “left out” of the race relations discussion.[188]

Also according to The Washington Post, the Ferguson Police Department “bears little demographic resemblance” to the mostly African-American community, which already harbored “suspicions of the law enforcement agency” preceding Brown’s shooting, with 48 of the police force’s 53 officers being white,[189] while the population is only one-third white and about two-thirds black.[183][190] An annual report last year by the office of Missouri’s attorney general concluded that Ferguson police were “twice as likely to arrest African Americans during traffic stops as they were whites”.[183]

The Los Angeles Times argues that the situation that exploded in Ferguson “has been building for decades”, and that protesters initially came from the town and neighboring towns that have pockets of poverty, the poorest of St. Louis, and lists “the growing challenge of the suburbanization of poverty” as the catalyst.[191]

Time magazine argued that “Blacks in this country are more apt to riot because they are one of the populations here who still need to. In the case of the 1992 riots, 30 years of black people trying to talk about their struggles of racial profiling and muted, but still vastly unfair, treatment, came to a boil. Sometimes, enough is simply too much. And after that catalyst event, the landscape of southern California changed, and nationally, police forces took note.”[192]

Another aspect of this situation might stem from a system that burdens the poor and black in Ferguson. Minor traffic offenses are the starting point, and the costs spiral up rapidly if the offenders do not pay the fines on time or do not appear in court. The income from court fines represented the second largest source of revenue for Ferguson in 2013. On October 1, 2014, the city of St. Louis cancelled 220,000 arrest warrants and gave a three-month delay to the offenders to get a new court date before the warrants would be reissued.[193]

Reactions[edit]

In the United States[edit]

Federal government[edit]

  • On August 12, citing an incident where a Ferguson Police Department helicopter was fired on from the ground, the FAAimplemented a no-fly zone over Ferguson.[194][195] Recordings of telephone conversations between FAA employees later revealed that the true reason the flight restrictions were requested was to keep news helicopters out of the area during the protest violence. The tapes were obtained by the Associated Press in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)request.[196]
  • In an August 14 op-ed in Time Magazine, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said that police forces need to be demilitarized and that “[t]he shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy” and that “Anyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention.”[197]
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted similar descriptions of Ferguson as a “war zone” in the aftermath of the police actions of August 12, with Amash calling the situation “frightening” on August 13 and Warren demanding answers on August 14.[198]
  • On August 23, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered a review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police, questioning the use of such equipment during the racial unrest in Ferguson. The review will be led by White House staff and includes the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, as well as other agencies including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Treasury Department, in coordination with Congress.[199] Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement toThe New York Times that “it makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it” and that “[d]isplays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive”.[200]
  • On September 4, Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will investigate Ferguson police force for possible misconduct or discrimination, saying that, “[w]e have determined that there is cause for the Justice Department to open an investigation to determine whether Ferguson police officials have engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. constitution or federal law.”[11] Attorney General Holder indicated that an overhaul similar to a recent agreement with the Albuquerque police department over use of excessive force could be called for in Ferguson. “It’s pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate,” Holder said.[12]
  • On September 24 at the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama described the racial tensions at Ferguson as a failure to live up to America’s ideals, and said that, “[i]n a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri – where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.”[201]
  • On November 24, minutes after a prosecuting attorney announced that a grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, President Obama urged calm and restraint in Ferguson, saying racial discrimination and distrust of police cannot be resolved by “throwing bottles”. Immediately after the shooting and in the weeks leading up to the grand jury announcement, President Obama has made several such calls for calm and restraint in Ferguson.[202]
  • On November 24, after reports of gunshots fired into the sky in Ferguson, the FAA diverted some flights to other airports that were inbound to St. Louis. Departures were not affected. The Temporary Flight Restriction said that no news helicopters or commercial flights were allowed in a three-mile radius up to an altitude of 3000 feet.[203][204]

Supreme Court Justices[edit]

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in an August 22 interview with The National Law Journal that the events at Ferguson and the stop-and-frisk policies in New York City, point to a “real racial problem” in the U.S.[205]

Missouri government[edit]

  • On August 14, Governor of Missouri Jay Nixon stated that the Ferguson riots were “deeply challenging” and “promised ‘operational shifts’ to ease the situation,[206] using the Missouri State Highway Patrol to direct security.[50]
  • Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Missouri Senator who represented parts of Ferguson and was tear-gassed during the demonstrations, said in an interview that “It doesn’t matter if Michael Brown committed theft or not. That’s not the issue. The issue is what happened when Darren Wilson encountered Michael Brown, and when he died—when he was killed. Those are the only facts that are necessary.”[207]
  • James Knowles III, the Mayor of Ferguson, was slow to seek support and coordination from state and county authorities as violence and civil unrest developed in his municipality. Mayor Knowles did not receive a phone call from either the Governor or others as riots developed and even as others came on the scene, no one appeared to take charge.[208]

Local authorities[edit]

  • Jennings, Missouri: On August 11, in response to safety concerns, the school district in nearby Jennings cancelled the first day of classes.[209][210]
  • Ferguson-Florissant School District, Missouri: On August 13, in response to the continuing unrest in the community, Ferguson-Flourissant schools that were to open Thursday were closed and scheduled to reopen on Monday.[211] On Sunday Aug 17, the school district again cancelled the first day of classes due to ongoing unrest. On Monday, administrators for the district announced that school would continue to be closed through the end of the school week.[212]
  • On August 12, St. Louis Police Department chief Sam Dotson decided against providing any more manpower to Ferguson owing to concerns about the welfare of the protesters and the handling of the situation by local police.[213]
  • On September 1, it was reported that, after receiving a large amount of criticism regarding their practices, the police force in Ferguson had begun to wear body cameras. The cameras had been donated to the police by two private security firms.[214]

Brown family[edit]

  • A member of the Brown family released a statement saying that “the stealing and breaking in stores is not what Mike will want, it is very upsetting to me and my family.” The statement also said, “Our family didn’t ask for this but for justice and peace.”[215] On the night of the grand jury decision of a ‘no true bill’ the mother speaking to the crowd expressed disbelief and innocence, but after a brief silence and then sobbing was embraced by the step-father who promoted arson.[216]
  • After the grand jury’s decision was announced, Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, turned to a crowd of demonstrators who had gathered, and yelled, “Burn this motherfucker down” and “Burn this bitch down”, according to aNew York Times video.[217] He later apologized for his outburst.[218]

Polls[edit]

A Pew Research poll conducted August 14–17 among 1,000 adults, found stark racial and political divisions in reactions to the shooting. By about four-to-one, African Americans (80% to 18%) said the shooting raised important issues about race, while whites, by 47% to 37%, said the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves. The divide in public opinion was also observed across partisan lines, with 68% of Democrats (including 62% of white Democrats) believing the incident raises important issues about race that merit discussion, compared with 40% of Independents and 22% of Republicans. Republicans were also more likely than Democrats to view the police response as appropriate (43%), compared with 21% of Democrats; 65% of Republicans expressed confidence in the investigations into the incident, compared with 38% of Democrats.[219]

Third parties[edit]

Protestors gather at the Ferguson police department

  • As of December 28, 2014, at least 253 demonstrations had been held worldwide for Michael Brown or in solidarity with Ferguson.[220]
  • Local pastors held a vigil on the morning of Sunday, August 10.[221] Another vigil was planned on the same day, at 8:00 p.m. in the area where Brown was killed.[221]
  • National vigils and marches occurred on the evening of Thursday, August 14, in over 100 cities around the U.S. with thousands in attendance. They were organized by @FeministaJones, using Twitter and the #NMOS14 hashtag.[222][223]
  • Hacktivists claiming an association with Anonymous and operating under the codename “Operation Ferguson” organized cyberprotests by setting up a website and a Twitter account.[224] The group promised that if any protesters were harassed or harmed, they would attack the city’s servers and computers, taking them offline.[224] City officials said that e-mail systems were targeted and phones died, while the Internet crashed at the City Hall.[224][225] Prior to August 15, members of Anonymous corresponding with Mother Jones said that they were working on confirming the identity of the undisclosed police officer who shot Brown and would release his name as soon as they did.[226] On August 14, Anonymous posted on its Twitter feed what it claimed was the name of the officer involved in the shooting.[53][227] However, police said the identity released by Anonymous was incorrect.[228] Twitter subsequently suspended the Anonymous account from its service.[229]
  • A group of Tibetan monks joined the protesters in Ferguson on Sunday, August 17.[230]

    Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson in Ferguson, August 17, 2014

  • On August 17, about 150 people protested in downtown St. Louis in support of Darren Wilson. The protesters argued that Wilson had been victimized and that any punishment for him would cause law enforcement officers to be “frightened to do their jobs.”[231]
  • CNN, along with ABC News and others, described the incident as having triggered a national debate on race relations, as well as the use of force and the militarization of the police in the United States.[185]
  • The Green Shadow Cabinet, a group led by 2012 Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, stated on August 14 that “[a] healthy response by the local police and government agencies in Ferguson and St. Louis County would have been to immediately announce a full investigation of the shooting and a review of police policies and practices.”[232]
  • Some veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces criticized the tactics and procedures used by the police during the unrest, including the use of assault rifles in a protest situation. They also criticized the choice to use canine units, which played into racial imagery exacerbating the issue and encouraged engaging the civilian population in dialogue and social media.[233]
  • On September 22, protesters received support from a California-based group called We Copwatch to improve the way they record their interactions with the police.[234]
  • St. Louis Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt led his teammates Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey, and Chris Givens in giving the “Hands up, Don’t shoot”, gesture when walking on to the field prior to the November 30 contest against the Oakland Raiders. The five came under fire from several media outlets, including Mike Ditka, who called the display “embarrassing”.[235]

International reactions[edit]

  • China – The Chinese state news Xinhua News Agency said hours before the governor ordered National Guard troops into Ferguson, “Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.”[236]
  • Egypt – Egypt‘s Ministry of Foreign affairs stressed that it agrees calls for “self restraint and respect for the right of assembly and peaceful expression of opinion” in the protests, hoping that the American authorities deal with the protests according to “the international standards”.[237] Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman said that Egypt is closely following up with the “mounting protests” in Ferguson.[238]
  • France – French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira commented on Radio France Internationale, “I will not make value judgements on the institutions of the United States but when the sense of frustration is that strong, that deep, that long-lasting and that huge, there is reason to question whether people trust these institutions. You realise that somehow it only happens to the same people: Afro-American kids. Certain clichés still persist, certain prejudices which can create terrible reflexes.” She also tweeted in French “Michael Brown, racial profiling, social exclusion, territorial segregation, cultural relegation, weapons, fear, fatal cocktail”. Taking a line of the song I Shot the Sheriff by Bob Marley, she added: “Kill them before they grow?”.[239]
  • Germany – In an interview with Der Spiegel, Marcel Kuhlmey, professor in the department of security management at the Berlin University of Economics and Law, a security expert, who asserted that what happened in Ferguson could never happen in Germany, stating that “In the U.S., it seems to me, the police are far quicker to resort to guns. Even at the training stage, there is a much heavier emphasis on shooting [than in Germany]”.[236] Zeit Online described the incident as an example of deep-rooted racism in the U.S, concluding that “the situation of African-Americans has barely improved since Martin Luther King.”[240]
  • Iran – Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency commented, “[V]iolence has become institutionalized in the U.S. in recent years, but since President Obama, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, came to the White House, the violence has intensified, and now it has erupted against blacks in Ferguson.”[236]
  • North Korea – called the United States a “human rights graveyard”.[241]
  • Russia – The Russian Foreign Ministry stated, “Our American partners [have] to pay more attention to restoring order in their own country before imposing their dubious experience on other nations” and that the U.S. “has positioned itself as a ‘bastion of human rights’ and is actively engaged in ‘export of democracy’ on a systematic basis”, but that “serious violations of basic human rights and barbaric practices thrive” in the country.[236]
  • Turkey – The Turkish Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. police for detaining a correspondent of the state Anadolu news agency while he covered protests in Ferguson, Missouri, calling it unacceptable and against the freedom of press.[242]

Others[edit]

  • From August 14 to 22, Amnesty International USA had a team of human rights observers, trainers and researchers in Ferguson. It included organizers to train activists in the use of non-violent protests.[243][244] This was the first time thatAmnesty International has deployed such a team to the United States.[245][246][247] In a subsequent report of October 24, 2014, they expressed concerns for human rights in Ferguson, related to the use of lethal force in the death of Brown, racial discrimination and excessive use of police force, imposition of restrictions on the rights to protest, intimidation of protesters, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and long range acoustic devices, restrictions imposed on the media covering the protests, and lack of accountability for law enforcement policing protests.[244][248]
  • Islamic State militants stated that they will use social media to encourage Islamic extremism in Ferguson.[249][250][251]
  • On August 18, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon called for U.S. authorities to ensure protection of the protesters’ rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Through a spokesman, Ban called for “all to exercise restraint, for law enforcement officials to abide by U.S. and international standards in dealing with demonstrators”.[252]
  • Protesters in the Middle East have expressed support for protesters in Ferguson, using social media and offered advice on how to deal with tear gas.[253]
  • Azteca News wrote that Obama’s “words of peace and reconciliation are perceived by many activists as inadequate and almost treason to a situation they see as a direct result of slavery and racial segregation laws that were in force until 1965.”[240]
  • Abigail Chandler of the newspaper The Metro wrote that “[w]hile the London riots were at their worst, people were calling for rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to be used against the rioters, Ferguson is a living example of why we should be immensely grateful that those tactics were never used during the U.K. riots.”[240]
  • On November 25, 2014, journalist Darlena Cunha had a Time magazine article published about the 2014 Ferguson unrest entitled “Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting.” Cunha wrote that riots are “a necessary part of the evolution of society.”[192]
  • On November 26, 2014, Stand Up To Racism and the London Black Revolutionaries organized a protest outside theEmbassy of the United States, London against the grand jury’s decision, gathering hundreds of people throughout the night.[254]