It is just over a month since Darren Wilson, a Ferguson Missouri pig, gunned down Mike Brown, a Black teenager, in cold blood. It is stunning how much has happened—maybe even how much has changed—since that day. Here are some reflections on one of the most important urban rebellions in the US in the 21st century.
1. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the real heroes here are the ordinary people of Ferguson. If they had responded with a night of angry protest on August 8 and then slipped back into their daily lives, Michael’s would have been just another name added to the long, long list of those lynched by the police.
But they didn’t return to their daily lives. They continued to protest. They stood up to a full-fledged occupation of their community by multiple militarized police forces and the National Guard. The young’uns defied the curfews. Some threw back teargas canisters at the invaders, some did a little trashing and burning. The elders stood between them and the po-po, making it clear that the cops would have to go through them to get at the youth.
And they never stopped. Just a week ago, angry residents disrupted the first meeting of the Ferguson City Council since things blew up, informing them that there will be no going back to business as usual.
To be sure, the people of Ferguson were lucky to have veteran local organizers, especially the radicals of the Organization for Black Struggle, on the ground, helping build the fightback. Even some of those who were drawn from elsewhere to help (as distinct from paper-peddling riot tourists) made contributions. But it was the residents of Ferguson and surrounding communities who deserve the credit.Download this piece as a PDF