The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Ferguson, Missouri:
“Typical” and Murderous

Sep 1, 2014

It happened in Ferguson, Missouri, but it easily could have happened in any city or town in this country. Young black men, when they walk down the street, have a target on their back.

Some will say that’s an exaggeration. Well, look at the behavior of the political and police establishment in Ferguson after Michael Brown was gunned down by a cop. The Ferguson police and mayor shielded the cop, impeding the investigation. When they finally released the cop’s name, they showered him with praise, calling him, “a gentle, quiet man.” And they distributed a video at the same time, showing Brown apparently grabbing cigarillos from a convenience store without paying for them–trying to reinforce the idea that Brown was a dangerous criminal.

The fact is, he was, like many teenagers before him, shoplifting.

But apparently, in Ferguson Missouri, shoplifting calls for the death penalty. At least it does when a trigger-happy white cop becomes the judge, jury and executioner of a black teenager; and when the white political establishment rushes to cover up another cop-murder.

In fact, the cop didn’t know that Michael Brown had taken that handful of cigarillos. Even the Ferguson police chief admitted it. Michael and his friend were stopped, according to the chief, for “walking down the middle of the street, impeding traffic.” That is jay-walking!

It couldn’t be more obvious. Michael Brown was confronted by a trigger-happy cop for walking down the street and being black.

This kind of murder could have happened anywhere in the country–and, in fact, regularly does. The difference is that the black population of Ferguson didn’t accept it without protest. The protests continued for several weeks, marked by outbursts that reveal a rage residing deep inside people who have been abused and discarded.

Authorities from President Obama on down decry the “violence” that broke out after the murder of Michael Brown.

What cynics they are. Without that so-called “violence,” there would have been no investigation into the murder, no grand-jury investigation. The Missouri governor would not have stepped in replacing the Ferguson police. Without the protests, it would have been business as usual. And business as usual, when a young black man is killed by a cop, is to brush all evidence of murder under the rug. In fact, it wasn’t until the protests–and yes, the “violence”–continued for six days that anyone in authority dared to acknowledge that something might have been wrong in what that cop did.

The people in Ferguson were right to protest, they are right if they continue to find all the ways they can to express their outrage. “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” That was a famous line from a speech by Frederick Douglas, speaking of the fight to overturn slavery. It’s just as true today, as it was then, 157 years ago.

Michael Brown’s mother addressed the news media in St. Louis with these words: “You took my son away from me. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. ‘They’re going to try to take me out anyway.’”

And that’s exactly what the murdering cop in Ferguson and all those who today support him did. They took Michael Brown out anyway.

There can be no justice for Michael Brown, nor his family. He is dead, cut down in his 18th year. And he can’t be brought back. But the anger that roiled the streets of Ferguson may have backed off some other trigger-happy cop, saving the life of some other teenager, who otherwise would have been cut down before he, too, had the chance to live out his life.