Today is my birthday. But instead of cocktail lounges and birthday cake, I spent this day capturing powerful moments from the streets of Ferguson.
Almost three weeks have passed since the brutal slaying of Michael Brown. An unintentional martyr for the cause, Mike Brown represents the heinous flaws prevalent in our societal institutions. From his body egregiously laid out in the street for over four hours, to the fact that he was unarmed and headed to college, to the rapid militarization of local police forces, and the uneven media portrayals of a bereaved community, his tragic death galvanized a diversely passionate array of Black and Brown activists.
I traveled with Black Lives Matter, a coalition of Black and Brown activists, community organizers, media specialists, legal professionals, medics, healers, counselors, and cultural workers who volunteered their time and services for the betterment of the local community. Invited and accepted by Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, we joined with humbled solidarity.
The national initiative brought in hundreds of volunteers from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, Detroit, Ohio, Atlanta, Oregon, Washington State, and California. I rode with the NY/NY/Philly team for over 22 hours. We left NYC late Thursday, and arrived in St. Louis on Friday evening.
On Saturday, we began our excursion at St. John’s United Church of Christ. We gathered to center ourselves within the larger context of social justice.
After detailed testimony from local organizers, we called to our ancestors, and ensured that their efforts were not in vein. We assembled under the credo that now’s the time to end the institutionalized tactics that kill, maim, and disadvantage our prolific community.
We headed to Canfield Drive, the street where Mike Brown was murdered.
Hundreds, in not thousands, gathered to commemorate his life, and the lives of others needlessly killed by state sanctioned violence.
The march concluded with a solidarity circle. Emotions ran high as the nature of our existence compounded in such an intense space.
We then channeled our emotion in an impromptu march and rally at Ferguson police headquarters. Completely unexpected and unplanned, hundreds gathered demanding justice for Mike Brown. Officer Darren Wilson has yet to be charged, nor has his location been disclosed.
On the whole, officers seemed unfazed by our passion.
Some were smirking.