The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 44      December 8, 2014

 

As we go to press, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced Nov. 24 that the grand jury he convened decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson.


(front page)
Protesters in Ferguson prepare
response to grand jury decision
 
AP Photo/David Goldman
Lesley McSpadden, center, speaks at Nov. 22 rally at site where her son Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson. ďDonít agitate the police. Donít let the police agitate you,Ē she told some 60 participants before they marched to Ferguson police station.

BY JOHN HAWKINS
FERGUSON, Mo. — Working people and youth outraged over the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, are preparing for protests here as they await the announcement of a grand jury decision on whether to indict Brown’s killer, officer Darren Wilson.

“A lot of planning has gone into a peaceful, legal response to whatever the grand jury decision is,” Melanie Walls, an administrative assistant at St. Louis Hospital, told the Militant. Local groups like the Don’t Shoot Coalition have been organizing training for those planning to protest. The Canfield Watchmen, named after the street where Brown was shot, has distributed more than 200 cameras to volunteers to monitor cops’ response to protests.

To help make a public case for no indictment ahead of the grand jury decision, the capitalist press has reported a steady stream of “leaks” from the jury’s deliberations. These include a toxicology report that Brown had marijuana in his system, as well as police accounts that Brown scuffled with Wilson in the cop car prior to the killing.

“I don’t think any of that is relevant — not even the alleged scuffle with that policeman,” Walls said.

“Why shoot that many times? Why was he left in the street for four hours?” she said. “Whatever Wilson’s state of mind he didn’t do the right thing. He didn’t have to kill that young man.”

“Whatever happened inside the car, it had nothing to do with the fact that the man was unarmed and 20 to 30 feet away,” said Everett Hartfield, who repairs and resells used cars. “All that is just a smokescreen to take away from the main thing.

“I’m 62 years old and I’ve lived here almost my entire life,” said Hartfield. “I knew that at some point in time people would stand up and say that cops killing Black people is not OK. That Black lives have value.”

“When I saw how they were treating the demonstrators — threatening them, telling them ‘we’ll kill you too if you get out of line,’” Hartfield said, “seeing that made me come out and protest too.”

Standing in front of the memorial to Brown on Canfield Drive here, Markese Mull, a neighbor of Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden, talked about why he and others joined the demonstrations demanding prosecution of Wilson. “Things just reached a boiling point. What happened to Mike has happened so many times. And it can happen only so many times before people just get tired of it.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Nov. 17 and announced plans to send the National Guard to the area.

“Governor Nixon’s decision to declare a state of emergency without evidence of violence or danger only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless non-violent activists,” said NAACP president Cornell William Brooks in a statement the same day. “We at the NAACP will work tirelessly to ensure that the civil rights of the demonstrators are upheld. … We commend as well as stand with those practitioners of democracy who have stood strong for over 100 days.”

More than 100 FBI agents have been stationed in this area. Almost immediately upon their arrival they arrested two alleged members of the New Black Panther Party on gun and weapons charges.

The Jennings school district cancelled classes for Monday and Tuesday following the November 22-23 weekend.

As authorities stoke anxiety and fear, demonstrations continue. Sixty people marched to the Ferguson police station Nov. 22 after hearing McSpadden speak at the memorial to her son on Canfield Drive. “It’s a long time coming, but it’s still coming,” she said, “justice. I just want you all to be careful. Don’t agitate the police, don’t let the police agitate you. I don’t want any of you to get hurt. When I go into court, I want all of you with me.”  
 
 
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