AFRICANGLOBE – For a sixth-straight day African Americans and their supporters have remained in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri protesting the blatant police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The student was gunned-down on Aug. 9 by an unnamed law-enforcement officer who the authorities are more concerned about protecting than the community under siege.
On the night of Aug. 13-14, police in militarized “riot gear” teargased, pepper-sprayed and fired bean bags and rubber bullets into sections of the African American community forcing people off the streets. Journalists and their camera crews from the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Al Jazeera and many others were gassed and even arrested by St. Louis County SWAT teams.
Military equipment utilized in war zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yemen was deployed against the African American people in Ferguson. Humvees and anti-mining devices were very much in evidence when SWAT units swept through the affected neighborhoods which have refused to end their demonstrations.
The Pentagon through federal law-enforcement assistance projects have turned over these deadly weapons to local agencies principally in anticipation of mass protests and unrest within national oppressed communities. CNN reported on Aug. 14 that at least $450 million in military equipment has been transferred to local law-enforcement agencies over the last year from the Defense Department.
Claims that Molotov cocktails were thrown at police thus necessitating such military tactics has been refuted by journalists and eyewitnesses. Similar assertions that Michael Brown was threatening the White police officer who gunned him down were also denied by several onlookers.
Numerous people attest to the shooting death of Michael Brown while he stood with his hands up before the police and was then struck several times at close range. Demonstrators have raised the slogan “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” during protests that have continued daily in Ferguson, a majority African American suburb of St. Louis, where White politicians and police dominate the social and political culture of the city.
The Mayor James Knowles III of Ferguson told CNN that the county police had control of the situation in the unrest areas. He defended the refusal of the powers that be not to release the name of the officer who killed Michael Brown, as was supposed to be done on Aug. 13.
Official Response Reveals Ongoing Racist Character of Domestic Policy
All of the public statements from officials in Ferguson have sought to apportion blame for the unrest on the African American people, mainly youth, who have defiantly refused to leave the streets since the killing of Michael Brown. The militarization of the police in the city represents the current approach to the burgeoning social and political problems so widespread among African Americans and other oppressed communities in the U.S.
Incidents of racist violence have increased since the ascendancy of the presidency of Barack Obama. Nonetheless, the president’s approach to urban problems of growing unemployment, underemployment, poverty, disenfranchisement and repression, has been one of “benign neglect” and even hostility, rather than objective assessment and programmatic engagement.
Since Obama took office in 2009, he has gone out of his way not to address the rising phenomenon of poverty and alienation among large sections of the population in the U.S.. The president’s response to the crisis in Ferguson is indicative of his lack of commitment to seriously address the conditions of the African American people by maintaining that there are no fundamental structural deficiencies within the U.S. system.
Obama in a press conference during his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Aug. 14, reiterated the call for law and order saying that “there was no excuse for violence.” Yet it was the police who gunned down Michael Brown that initiated the mass demonstrations by the people of the area and placing these developments on news pages throughout the world.
Although speaking of the arrests of journalists, he never mentioned the additional state-violence carried out by the police against African American youth and other demonstrators. There was no condemnation of the systematic use of teargas, pepper spray, concussion bombs, bean bags and rubber bullets perpetuated against the African American people who are forced to live under a White-dominated political landscape on a daily basis.