25 Nov 2014

What began with the death of Michael Brown is not over yet

So the grand jury spoke. And what followed was protest and anger and a sense that there was never any other way this was going to fall.

In this most digital age, protesters clustered around cars to listen to radio speakers, to hear the decision that no charges should be laid against Darren Wilson, the white policeman who shot the unarmed teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown.

From the moment the prosecutor began describing the unreliability of eyewitnesses, faces fell. The mother of Michael Brown clambered to the top of a car and began remonstrating with the voice of the prosecutor. “They’re wrong,” she called, in tears. Some in the crowd called out “We love you, Lesley”.

As the decision became clear, she was bundled away, and the protesters found their voices in fury and in hurt.

One young woman, whose nose was pierced and her hair orange, told me she was scared. She has a young brother. It could have been him. It could have been her. Only because of the colour of their skin. She was called Diamond. She says that now, everything changes. For Black America, it has to.

Another young man, clustered with friends at the back of the crowd, said that this isn’t about colour, it’s about money. If Michael Brown had been wealthy, that might have assured justice.

The only good that can be done? He says the wealthiest of the community combining their wealth and buying their own politician. Even the upside in Ferguson wasn’t very up tonight.

At the front of the modest crowd, a police line stood in front of the police station. Bottles were thrown. And then protests moved from one end of the street to another, more fortified, police line with officers in full riot gear, backed up by armoured vehicles.

The catalogue of events we witnessed ran from bottles and rocks being thrown, police firing tear gas, warning that, if people didn’t get off the road, they would be arrested.


Armoured vehicles pressed the crowd from north to south and back again. A handful of protesters ran forward to tip a car and set fire to it. We saw glass windows of shops being smashed, glass windows of shops not being smashed as other protesters remonstrated with the handful and stopped the destruction.

But in other places it didn’t stop. We watched a pizza place burn to the ground – Little Caesar’s didn’t stand a chance. Looters broke into the Walgreens drugstore across the road.

We heard gunfire three or four times and watched the owner of a mobile phone shop sweep glass from his front porch as the building that housed a beauty salon across the road sent plumes of smoke into the sky.

He said he hadn’t boarded up his shop – he imagined that, this time, there might be peace rather than destruction. He shook his head when he realised how wrong he was.

St Louis is not on fire. Unrest is not widespread. But on the streets of Ferguson tonight there was rage, arcing between four or five locations. What began with the death of Michael Brown is not over yet.

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4 reader comments

  1. Del says:

    I saw that coming a mile away. Police over there are like untouchable holy beings, I wouldn’t set foot over there and I’m white

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    These murderous tragedies will continue until the USA faces the truth of its founding and history and of its marrow-deep institutionalised racism.

    US culture is intrinsically self delusional and always has been. Worse, their establishment simply lies its head off on the question of “race.” Their mainstream media is nothing more than monopoly propaganda.

    The days of white global dominance are numbered. The sooner it is acknowledged and actioned the better it will be for the future of the human species.

    It is time for the USA to admit they are the home of an armed-to-the-teeth lunatic nightmare nobody else wants. They can expect nothing but contempt as long as they keep demonstrating they love their guns more than they love their children.

    Racism is but one element in their nightmare.

  3. Mary Arnold says:

    Black America does not want justice, they want immunity from justice for all blacks whether guilty or not. They accuse whites of being prejudice but
    Someone should ask them if they would protest if the boy has been white and the officer had been black. I doubt if they
    would get off their couches for that. Most of these protests are just an excuse for
    violence and looting. When they act like good citizens then they will be treated the same as everyone else. And the news reported just makes situations worse. Parents should teach their kids
    how to act.

  4. Sheri Carline says:

    We are not a racist country we VOTED for and African American president. We have come a long way. The USA is a beautiful country let us not forget that, that is why MANY are fleeing their countries to come here. If you don’t like it here you can may leave. DON’T FORGET INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY ……. we have a process in place to decide if someone is guilty or not. Let the courts decide and not the protesters. Of course there are racist people (teachers, cops etc.) and there will always be racist people in the world but most cops I do believe are not this way. The Media is hyping this up and we need a President that will bring the country together and not divide us and a media that will speak the TRUTH. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO THE FACTS AND NOT SPEAK PREMATURELY. The media fed this thing before the facts were out, these people did not even hear the evidence.

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