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#blackLivesMatter

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#Mike Brown a case study in institutional racism


mike brownSince 2008 when he was only 12 years old, Mike Brown was doomed to his fate of lying in the middle of a Ferguson, Missouri road with his brains leaking out of his head  for four and half hours while his parents wailed nearby powerless to help him. His journey towards this rather ignoble end began in 2008 when Barack Hussein Obama was elected president and white people the country over who were against the notion that an African-American should be president decided to take matters into their own hands and mete out punishment on any black male they could. Mike Brown Slain 2As a result Mike Brown didn’t stand a chance that day in August, 2014 when he entered Darren Wilson’s world and that brief encounter which ended with his murder would set the wheels in motion of  institution racism  whereby it was absolutely not possible for him or his family to receive justice. Every institution that is supposed to be responsible for justice in American society was irrevocably stacked against him and every one would collude to make sure his rights would forever be trampled upon and would not see the light of day.

darren wilsonDarren Wilson shot Brown because he refused to be intimidated by a white police officer and Wilson seeing his authority being challenged by a disobedient black boy snapped and gave into a centuries old rage of  the authoritarian class driven by the idea that no black man should ever refuse to do what a white man tells him to do. As a policeman Wilson knew he could set the rules and everything else that followed from his interaction with Brown would naturally go the way he wanted because that’s the way it always has been; there are no repercussions to come from a policeman killing a black man, none.  Wilson’s department rallied around him initially refusing even to give his name to the press corp that gathered to cover this storm; Wilson himself did not write a police report for weeks after the shooting, giving him and his department and the country time to concoct a counter narrative to the one being given by the many witnesses who actually saw the execution.

The media and especially FoxNews and talk radio were willing accomplices in exonerating Wilson of Mike Brown’s murder repeating the now discredited stories first offered up by Wilson himself and eventually by others who were persuaded to give credibility to the lie through sworn grand jury testimony. (More on that in a moment.) This is the same media that has taken every chance to discredit the country’s first black president even if it meant practically swearing allegiance to an adversary.  The

FPD chief Thomas Jackson

FPD chief Thomas Jackson

Ferguson police were openly scornful of the Brown family, the media who they were uncertain of would spin their lies and even the federal government, taking great pains to do any and everything they could to show their contempt for whatever it is they were asked to do or provide. In many cases they gave what was not asked, the video of Brown strong arming the items he stole from the convenience store or withheld items they were asked like information on the shooter or Brown’s autopsy.  All of these machinations were done merely to allow the other parts of the white justice system to gear up and pick up where the FPD left off.

Robert P. McCulloch the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri,

Robert P. McCulloch the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri,

When it was finally announced there would be grand jury proceedings the prosecutor responsible for conducting it, Bob McCulloch whose police officer father was killed by an African-American refused to recuse himself from the role instead insisting he be removed by the governor of Missouri who insisted it was McCulloch’s call whether to step down. A better dance of abdication could not be choreographed and with that spectacle came the coup de grace, the complete and utter exoneration of Wilson set up by  McCulloch who presented testimony from witnesses he himself said he knew they were lying and were not even present at the shooting they claimed to have seen.  Instead what these witnesses did was regurgitate the story initially put out by Wilson and the press in the days immediately following Brown’s murder. To the institutions of racism, fairness is allowing known liars to lie about an event in the name of full disclosure before a court of law.  So it should come as no surprise that Wilson would not be indicted but rather be sent away with a rather large sum of money….bounty money as it were, for killing an unarmed, surrendering boy. And because he wasn’t charged with a crime and resigned instead of being fired, although I doubt that would make any difference, it’s quite conceivable he could go on to find employment in another police department…possibly Cleveland, Ohio where an

Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann

Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann in the middle

officer with an equally disastrous record as Wilson was hired after being FIRED from a police department and went on to kill a 12 year old Tamer Rice……and continue his killing spree unabated.

This is how racism works in the criminal justice system…..it is systemic and widespread.  Black men are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than whites and in almost all cases police are not indicted for these at times public executions of citizens. Fix this America!

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Desperation and despair all rolled up into one black male’s pain


I have witnessed far too many times the pain and despair black males have at the realization their lives have no value in America and it’s no more apparent than in this exchange Eric Garner’s step father had with a black citizen of New York city after the announcement by the grand jury there would be no charges against the officer who strangled Garner.  ‘What kind of future do I have’ he asks through his tears  whose presence the question is answered.  It’s a powerful video of hope and despair and gives insight into what drives African-American males

This is Darren Wilson and where he comes from


A lot has been said about the grand jury’s refusal to indict Darren Wilson many saying because of the thuggish reputation of Mike Brown.  However, Wilson has a history of thug like behavior with the civilian population of Ferguson that his supporters conveniently forget.  For them I post this video

Darren Wilson worked for the Ferguson police for six years and he worked with colleagues who were as brutal and negligent of citizenship rights as he was.  The story of Henry Davis  and its aftermath is one Darren Wilson was aware since he was working at the FPD during that time.

Henry Davis made a wrong turn from a road leading into Ferguson and his life was changed for the worse. Henry Davis has a first and last name only like someone who is wanted by the FPD but nothing else in common and despite evidence and his own protestations that he was NOT the man FPD was looking for he was arrested and put in a cell late at night where he was brutally assaulted unprovoked by members of the Ferguson police department.

Henry Davis

Henry Davis

He had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for the injuries you see in the photo but to add insult to these injuries the police charged Davis with four counts of “destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him”. Davis spent several days in jail and was released after spending $1,500 for basically doing…………………..nothing but driving down a Ferguson city street, much like Mike Brown was walking down one and all this happened while Darren Wilson was employed by the FPD.  He had nothing to do with this episode of police brutality but he was certainly aware of it.  Why?  Mr. Davis decided to sue the police in a civil case and one of the defendants Police Officer John Beaird testified thusly

“After Mr. Davis was detained, did you have any blood on you?” asked Davis’ lawyer, James Schottel.

“No, sir,” Beaird replied.

Schottel showed Beaird a copy of the “property damage” complaint.

“Is that your signature as complainant?” the lawyer asked.

“It is, sir,” the cop said.

“And what do you allege that Mr. Davis did unlawfully in this one?” the lawyer asked.

“Transferred blood to my uniform while Davis was resisting,” the cop said.

“And didn’t I ask you earlier in this deposition if Mr. Davis got blood on your uniform?”

“You did, sir.”

“And didn’t you respond no?”

“Correct. I did.”

In other words the officer(s) committed perjury, a punishable offense, although he had no problem lying on the stand and directly contradicting his own official police report. This is Darren Wilson’s world; this is where he worked and this is how he expected to be treated and how he expected to treat others and you call Mike Brown a thug?

An American Muslim speaks on Ferguson


I’m glad to see that some in the Muslim community in America are engaged with what’s going on in Ferguson and have been since day one.  One prominent Muslim American who lives in the Ferguson, Missouri area has been writing and chronicling what’s going on there since the days after Mike Brown was gunned down.  You can read what he has written on his blog, here. There is also a facebook page “Muslims for Ferguson” where you can catch some snippets on Ferguson and its daily struggles.

The one item that caught my eye was this piece from American Muslim, Linda Sarsour who speaks very poignantly about the responsibility of people of Deen to what goes on around them.

I do not come as a preacher. I come to you as a mother of a 16 year old boy. I come to you as a Muslim. As a New Yorker. More importantly I come to you as a human. I also come angry and frustrated. I went to Ferguson. Ferguson taught me that it is OKAY to be angry. That anger is not something we should be ashamed of when we are working against injustice. Injustice, sisters and brothers is supposed to make us angry. It reminds us of our humanity. And that anger can be translated into systemic change. I was PROUD to be angry — which is something we are told not to be. But in Ferguson it felt good to be angry and we were alongside people who were angry but showed us so much LOVE. It was something I never felt before in my life.

Sisters and brothers, I ask of you today to focus on the real injustices. Don’t condemn and chastise those that chose to channel their anger in ways you deem unproductive. Pray for them. Love them. We may not condone their actions but I am not ready to discard them, disassociate with them — society has already done that to them. Ask more questions, what must happen to a human being for them to behave in certain ways?

Malcolm-KingWhat examples of Black American non-violent heroes has our country produced for them? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Reverend George Lee, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X in his later years — what do they all have in common — MURDERED.

They called for non-violence, they marched, they organized their people and they were SHOT. Understand history — Black American history is your history. American History is YOUR history and it hasn’t always been a history you can be proud of. Pastor Willie from First Corinthian Baptist Church broke it down. He said America was born with a birth defect. We have never truly dealt with it so it continues to be there. I will add that because we haven’t dealt with it we have exported this birth defect to other lands where we kill innocent people in the thousands through unjust wars or target civilians some of whom are Americans, through our drone policies. ‪#‎WAKEUP‬

This sisters and brothers is not just about #MikeBrown

This is about black men/boys/women/girls across the country including right here in our own backyard. Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Kimani Gray, Eric Garner, Tim Stansbury, Mohamed Bah, Nicholas Heyward, Jr, and the list goes on and on and on. This is about police officers who walk free as if the people they murdered were cattle in the street. This is not just about police violence. This is about an education system that is set up to fail children of color. An education system that has been called a monopoly. An education system in which it’s quality is based on the neighborhood you live in. It’s about a justice system that takes you in as a young person, follows you around as an adult — stunts your progress. You can’t get away from it. Its about lack of opportunity. Its about a system that doesn’t believe in your potential and operates that way.

Let us come to a place where we recognize that there is structural racism in our country AND that we all do not have to experience it to believe it exists. IT EXISTS. Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, prominent Black American Imam and a mentor said yesterday that immigrant Muslims generally speaking had it good in America benefitting from artificial white privilege prior to 9/11, but on 9/11 and the subsequent years after they realized they were just another n*gger. This may be a hard statement for folks to swallow. Reflect. Breathe.

We have Muslim brothers and sisters withering away in Communication Management Units in places like Indiana — many of whom convicted on “secret evidence” (no one knows why they were convicted, not them, not their lawyers) or under the ambiguous “material support” laws stripped of every right they have, some have never had trouble with the law up until that dreaded day, never were a harm to our society — no access to family, media, television — they languish in small cells for 23 hours a day. Muslims make up over 85% of the CMUs and we are less than 1% of the population. Who marches for them? Is the system working for them and their families?

Don’t tell me about a justice system that doesn’t work in the same way for everyone. A justice system that protects celebrities and law enforcement and too often turns its back on the ordinary person.

Racism is REAL. It doesn’t have to be REAL for you for it to be REAL.

Don’t treat everything as an isolated incident or case. Use your intellect. Analyze. Ask questions. The justice system isn’t a robot or a calculator that always gives the right answers. The justice system is made up of people. People sometimes make mistakes. Humans make mistakes. We all make mistakes.

For some of you its a story of one unarmed Black boy shot on the streets of Ferguson. For others its one small drop in an ocean of dehumanization, discrimination, demoralization that has been passed on from one generation to the next. For some — this is what it is. Some have given up.

I am exhausted hearing people say we are all playing the race card

Sisters and brothers these are the cards the system has dealt. Trust me, deal a new set, a set with equality, justice, liberty and pursuit for happiness FOR ALL, a set that values all human life the same, a set that sees the potential in ALL of our children and we’ll gladly accept it and play those cards.

Clergy Protest in Ferguson leading to 20 arrests — October, 2014 — Photo Credit Associated Press

Clergy Protest in Ferguson leading to 20 arrests — October, 2014 — Photo Credit Associated Press

I am not asking you to feel sympathy for Black and brown people, they definitely don’t want your sympathy, I just want you to believe in your hearts that ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ and stop expecting for Black and brown people to prove their humanity to you. They are EXHAUSTED. Reverend Chloe Breyer, a White Episcopalian priest said what makes her aware of her white privilege is that she doesn’t feel exhausted, she sleeps well at night. That sisters and brothers is courage and honesty. Acknowledge your privilege and use it to help uplift others.

By no means should anyone feel guilty about their privilege — I have plenty but I can not in good conscience walk around in this world with the fallacy that we live in an equitable and just world just because that’s how its working out for me. I ask for some selflessness for a moment. Just imagine for ONE MINUTE that #MikeBrown was your son in all his complexities yet all his simplicities and the SYSTEM didn’t think your child was worth a trial. It was never about guilty or innocent for Darren Wilson — it was about his day in court. The system didn’t think it was worth their time. Would you have sat back with the memory of your slain child and took it? Unless you experience the murder of your child in this same vain — you again are speaking from a place of privilege and I will continue to say CHECK IT.

If we do not see ourselves in each other — if we do not believe that we each deserve freedom, equality — if we do not believe that we are brothers and sisters and ALL the children of GOD — then it is we that are failing our children, our future, humanity.

I have been saddened by the responses I have been seeing from “friends”. Diverting from the true injustices once again. This is not about Black and White. This is not about us vs. law enforcement. I am not anti-law enforcement, I am anti-law enforcement misconduct and so should everyone else. We should be against misconduct where ever it is happening.

What’s interesting is that people will support the plight of Palestinians or Syrians or Egyptians to resist by any means necessary but won’t afford that right to others. Not taking a side either way just asking for some consistency for your own credibility.

Linda Sarsour Marches in Ferguson, Missouri as a part of the #FergusonOctober protests

Linda Sarsour Marches in Ferguson, Missouri as a part of the #FergusonOctober protests

For me, I recommit to working for justice for ALL. I am keeping my eyes on Ferguson, my heart in the movement and my feet on the streets of New York City because Ferguson is everywhere. I hope you join me.

These remarks are adapted from a speech Linda Sarsour gave at an interfaith gathering on November 25th at the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.

Out of the ashes of Ferguson comes hope


A great story on civic responsibility and communion days after the disastrous and comical decision of a grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson for anything.  Of course there was anger; it was anticipated and most likely hoped for because there are far too many people who want to point to the manifestation of that anger to justify Wilson’s own murderous rage.  However, people of all sizes and colors live in Ferguson and theirs is a response worth noting too!

Cleanup has begun in Ferguson, Missouri, after a night of unrest following a grand jury’s decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Hundreds of people, including university students and local nuns, gathered Tuesday to help those affected along South Florissant Road, according to St. Louis Today. Bricks were thrown through windows and shops were destroyed, but the arrival of good Samaritans offered a glimmer of hope.

This is the Ferguson community,” Maria Flores, 66, whose El Palenque restaurant was damaged Monday night, told St. Louis Today. “When something happens, everyone is there helping each other.”

Terrence Williams, a 23-year-old St. Louis native, headed out Tuesday morning to help repair his broken community.

“I just watched last night from my television and this morning I was like, ‘You know what? While they’re out there bringing negativity, I’m [gonna] come out and try to breed at least some kind of positivity, let them know that everybody in St. Louis is not negative,'” he told The Huffington Post. “If that means that I have to be out here every single day after they loot, after they vandalize, then I will do that simply to let people know that I love St. Louis, this is where I was born and raised, and no one will come here and tear it down.”

@ryanjreilly tweeted-Terrence Williams, 23, has been out here cleaning up since 7 a.m. #Ferguson

@ryanjreilly tweeted-Terrence Williams, 23, has been out here cleaning up since 7 a.m. #Ferguson

@MbasuCNN tweetted-Volunteers sweep broken glass at Snappy's Bar & Grill in #Ferguson.

@MbasuCNN tweetted-Volunteers sweep broken glass at Snappy’s Bar & Grill in #Ferguson.

Ferguson was hit with looting and arson after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that Wilson would not be indicted for the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Brown, who was unarmed at the time of his death.

The St. Louis County Police posted about Monday night’s protests on Facebook, writing: “What we saw tonight was much worse than what we saw any night in August. Bricks were thrown at police officers, two St. Louis County police cars were set on fire and police seized an automatic weapon.”

Missouri Highway Patrol Chief Ron Johnson condemned the looting and violenceduring a press conference Tuesday morning.

“Those are dreams. Those are small business owners. We’ve torn those dreams away,” he said. “Our community has to take responsibility for what happened tonight. We definitely have done something here that is gonna impact our community for a long time. That’s not how we create change.”