AFRICANGLOBE – White minority rule in South Africa in 1960 resulted in Black youth getting gunned down by police officers while White minority rule in Ferguson, Mo., and an entrenched White power structure is connected to the shootings and targeting of Blacks and Black youth in the St. Louis metropolitan area, said activists during a recent weekend of protests.
Demonstrations over the March 20-21 weekend coincided with the 55th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa and hundreds of protestors journeyed to Ferguson and Clayton, Mo., to continue demands for justice linked to the shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, Jr., last summer and a Justice Dept. report condemning systematic targeting of Blacks by police and essentially a city government that extorted money from Black residents through the police department and the courts.
The Leadership Coalition for Justice and several other groups organized the National March on Ferguson with the theme “We Can’t Stop Now!” The first day of protest was a Friday gathering March 20 with people, some from across the country, gathering in Shaw Park in Clayton, Mo., the seat of county government and offices for the county attorney who failed to indict officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Jr.
Among those protesting was the young victim’s father, Michael Brown, Sr., who marched, chanted and shared a few words. “We showed up and out this weekend and I’m happy to see all the support out here, this means a lot, thank you,” he said.
“I’ve been out here marching with the organization Leadership Coalition For Justice for two days in Clayton and Ferguson, Mo., but this weekend means even more because it marks the 55th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, which was an incident that happened in South Africa where several youth activists decided that they were going to refuse to carry their passes during apartheid in South Africa,” said Nadeehah Azeez, a St. Louis resident who joined the protests.
“Because they were refusing to carry their passes they all left their homes marched down to the police station to turn themselves in for violating the law there. And while all these youth were out there marching, peacefully protesting, they were very intentional about being peaceful and non-violent. The police officers got nervous, someone pulled the trigger and 69 of those children ended up getting killed and several others were injured,” she said.
“We are here today because we stand in solidarity with those people who lost their lives in South Africa and we stand in solidarity with all of the unarmed Black men, women and children who have lost their lives here in the United States of America and in St. Louis,” said Ms. Azeez.
Protesters shut down and diverted traffic on a main expressway in Clayton and disrupted the flow of business in the county seat. Several municipal police departments were dispatched to help with traffic and crowd control.
The next day March 21, demonstrators joined a Saturday march on the Ferguson police station. Several hundred people carried signs, placards, chanted and called for the resignation of Mayor James Knowles and federal oversight of the police department.
At the Saturday rally, activist Anthony Shahid of the Leadership Coalition for Justice told the crowd that Clayton police tried to plant a gun on Larry Miller, who spoke at the protest. “Listen up brothers and sisters, pay attention because you don’t know these wicked people, you are not paying attention to what I’m saying. I’m telling you they wanted to plant a gun on a brother yesterday in Clayton but got caught and it’s on video,” said Mr. Shahid.
“After the rally we walked around to where my car was parked. But one of the protesters in a wheelchair was catching the Metro train and our motto is leave no one behind so we stayed until she got on. Afterwards we drove off the lot so I can take Ralph to his car and noticed we were being followed by the police. We made several turns to the right, left and so on. When we got to his vehicle they pulled me over,” said Mr. Miller. “He said I made an illegal U-turn but it was not posted. I gave him my license and insurance card, by that time we were surrounded by four more police cars. I never experienced anything like this for making a supposed to be illegal turn.
Anyway, he came back to the car he said ‘can I speak to you a minute or do you want me to say it in front of these guys?’ I said, it’s okay these are my protest buddies, but I decided to get out the car and step to the back. He told me someone said they saw me put a gun in my waistband, is there any weapons in that car can we search that car? I said, ‘Sir, I’d rather you tell me the truth than to stand here and tell me a bold-faced lie. That’s an insult to my intelligence, we been protesting over 220 days do you think we are that stupid to bring a gun to Clayton, really sir? Don’t paint us with the same paint brush you put on the young man in Ferguson concerning the police who got shot.’
“Just like I don’t paint all cops as bad I don’t think you should do that to us, and as I was speaking with him someone yelled out, ‘You got a gun in your boot. What are you getting ready to do with that gun?’ The officer didn’t deny he didn’t have anything, instead he just started moving back and hiding it, but (we) filmed it. Then they let us go when I told the police officer that he cannot do anything to the passengers in my car if nothing is wrong with me as the driver, then they let us go.”
“I grew up in Kinloch, Mo., which borders Ferguson. The main reason I’m out here is after the murder of Mike Brown it brought back a lot of memories because every person in Kinloch had some type of negative moment in Ferguson. When I was 11-years-old walking down the street … just going into Ferguson to get an ice cream cone, two White men in a car threw a cup of piss on me and I never got over that. So I’m out here not only to get justice for Mike Brown and to end police brutality from this racist community, but I’m trying to get some satisfaction for myself for the injustice that was done to me as a kid,” said 62-year-old Larry Lewis.
“This weekend was something magical, you got a chance to see the Muslim brother, the Black Panther brothers, a lot of other spiritual religious people coming together for one cause and move with one voice and one sound. A lot of things was a little bit different because we let our elders take the lead, you know usually the youth is taking the lead but they led us to some good things this weekend,” said Marcellus Buckley, 23.
“But where we go from here is hard to say, because everyone is saying we need officials in but at the same time we feel that the whole system is guilty as hell. We say, ‘indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell,’ ” he chanted.