Commentary: Ferguson is still everywhere if you’re Black

Commentary: Ferguson is still everywhere if you’re Black
June 18
00:00 2015

By Rika Tyler and T-Dubb-O

It’s been 250 days since our fallen brethren Michael Brown Jr. was fatally shot in Canfield Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Wilson got rich, famous and a vacation after killing Mike Brown, a phenomenon that is occurring all too often across the U.S. In fact, an MXGM (Malcolm X Grassroots Movement) study has reported that every 28 hours a Black person is killed by police. Accountability is the key. Accountability is the answer.

As you may remember, Wilson was not indicted and the community of the Saint Louis and Saint Louis County Region still suffers for it. Ferguson’s response sparked a movement and uprising from people of different congregations, ethnicities, genders and ages nationwide to stand up against this system and be a voice for black, brown, and oppressed people.

Since the killing of Michael Brown, there have been numerous similar killings and then protests, rallies, direct actions and more. Yet it will not stop. From private attorneys to the Department of Justice, there have been several investigations of shootings of unarmed African-Americans; yet we still cannot fully attain the transparency or accountability that we deserve from police officers. Ferguson is still everywhere if you’re Black.

Therefore, we must start moving in a way to create our own narrative. This means doing our own investigations of these incidents involving officers, who are sworn to protect and serve us. The system itself also needs investigating.

In other words, we need policies that establish accountability. Accountability by police would mean them taking responsibility, being liable and answerable for these travesties of justice. Looking at what accountability actually means, can we as a nation say our police departments are truly held accountable for their fumbling of community relationships?

The constant mistakes, bad judgment, racist motives and lack of transparency would result in immediate termination in any other fields in this country. Why don’t normal morals and human standards apply to police officers?

They tell us police have the right to make it home. Well, shouldn’t every citizen in this country have the right to make it home? Or how about the right to be able to sleep in your home and not be killed due to reckless gun fire by police like 7-year-old Aiyana Jones, who was killed by Detroit police during a raid at her home. Final charges against Joseph Weekley, the cop who shot her, were dismissed early this year.

We must hold these officers accountable. In the Saint Louis Region, there have been at least 10 more police involved killings since Michael Brown Jr., which happened in August 2014. Around the nation, there are too many names to name with similar circumstances with no transparency and no justice in the system: Kimberly Randall King, Vonderritt Myers Jr., Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and more recently Freddie Gray of Baltimore.

Fortunately there are indictments of the officers in the Freddie Gray case, but for the most part around the country, there is currently no way to hold these departments accountable. It seems as if they run the nation and we serve them instead of the other way around.

During protests in Ferguson, municipalities established many unconstitutional rules. For example, they refused to wear name badges even after the Department of Justice said they were legally obligated to do so. They refused to identify themselves. They continued to use illegal unnecessary force against citizens. Ferguson Police officers even issued a five-second rule stating that a person could be subject to arrest if they stood still for longer than five seconds while protesting. A federal court ruled against it. Yet, police officers are still on the normal predator policing tactic.

The Department of Justice released a report confirming all the racial targeting that the Ferguson police department practiced against people of color and oppressed people in general. Yet, police still use shoot first tactics because there is no one holding them accountable. Ferguson is still everywhere if you are Black.

T-Dubb-O, a Hip-Hop artist, is a director for Hands Up United, a grass roots organization building toward the liberation of oppressed Black, Brown and Poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy and agriculture.

Rika Tyler, a community organizer and advocate for children, is a program director of Hands Up United. She works to ensure programs are aligned to serving the community of Ferguson and the Greater St. Louis area.

This article is part of an op-ed series on behalf of the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform. The coalition, convened and led by the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is comprised of over 30 national civil and human rights organizations, faith and community leaders working to address the nationwide epidemic of police brutality and lethal shootings, claiming the lives of Black men, women and youth; and provide necessary reforms to change the culture of policing in America. For more information, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.

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