Silent rage – Ferguson draws local reaction
Several hundred protesters gathered in front of the Decatur Courthouse on Thursday, Aug. 14, to hold a moment of silence for a teenager killed in a town 569 miles away.
The silence was brief. The protesters stayed for several hours, holding signs, banging drums and chanting.
Michael Brown was 18, unarmed and days away from starting college when he was shot multiple times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missou., on Aug. 9. His only crime, it seemed to protesters, was being young and black. This morning, Ferguson Police released a report alleging that Brown was a suspect in a robbery at the time of this incident, according to Talkinpointsmemo.com. The report claims that Brown had stolen cigars from a convenience store. To read the full story, click here.
And it’s not just about the incident Ferguson. People who gathered at the courthouse could cite any number of shootings over the years, including the case of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
Like Martin, the incident in Ferguson sparked protests. The protests in Missouri quickly escalated when police officers responded using military-like tactics, arresting and tear-gassing reporters on the ground.
Ferguson is extreme, but being harassed and scrutinized by police officers is a routine occurrence, the protesters said.
“It does not feel like freedom,” one of the speakers shouted to an audience holding signs that said things like “Black Life Matters” and “Stop Police Brutality.”
Nearby, a couple of Decatur Police officers quietly looked on. Here in Decatur, police tactics have drawn criticism. Black men say they’ve been unfairly targeted by Decatur police, though there have been no incidents on par with what has happened in Missouri.
Organizer Mary Hooks said it’s a pattern being replicated all over the country.
“Our communities are under attack and it’s an opportunity to shift the conversation,” she said when asked why Ferguson has resonated so deeply around the country.
She said discussions about the kinds of police behaviors that lead to these kinds of tragedies, like profiling, are often too simplistic.
“Racial profiling is actually a tactic in order to imprison people, to give people citations,” Hooks said. She said racial profiling can’t be properly addressed, “until we unpack those larger conversations.”
Greg Lee brought his wife, who is black, and their children to the protest. He said everyone needs to pay attention to what’s happened in Missouri.
“It’s kind of shocking when you hear the details and realize how racism or black injustice happens,” he said.
Shahed Rahman stood on the edge of the crowd and leaned on a cane as he watched. He said what happened to Michael Brown is, “against humanity.”
“It shouldn’t be like this,” he said.