On August 9th in the town of Ferguson in Missouri, white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, a black teenager, firing twelve shots and hitting him six times, including twice in the head. The 18-year-old Michael Brown was unarmed, and many witnesses who have spoken publicly have said that it appeared Brown was trying to surrender with his hands in the air when Wilson fired the fatal shots. Despite claims to the contrary, published photographs have since proven that Wilson wasn’t injured and that his life was never in danger. The killing of Brown sparked massive protests against murder by racist police in the city of Ferguson. On the 24th of November, the grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson for Brown’s murder. In response to this injustice, new protests have erupted not only in Ferguson, but throughout Missouri and in cities throughout the United States.
In a similar fashion to the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, in which the killer was also set free, the focus has now been taken away from the real issue – the racist murder of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson – to “concerns” about property damage and looting, attempting to paint the protesters in Ferguson as an unruly mob with no respect for the law. Of course, there is no talk about the long history of murder by racist police and institutional violence against black people in the U.S. In essence, violence from below is condemned while violence from above is ignored.
Like Trayvon Martin, the shooting of Michael Brown became not an assessment of whether Darren Wilson was guilty of murder, but whether Brown “deserved” to be shot. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson released a video that allegedly showed Brown shoplifting cigarillos from a convenience store and shoving a clerk when confronted. The legitimacy of this claim has been disputed (in fact evidence has since been released that he paid for the cigars) and has largely been seen by the people as an attempt to demonize Brown’s character. The media and police apologists immediately jumped on the “thug/criminal” and “no angel” bandwagon with this flimsy evidence. Even if it could be proven that Brown did in fact steal a $5 pack of cigarillos from a convenience store, which has absolutely not been established, Wilson was not aware of Brown being involved in any alleged robbery when he saw him on the street and shot at him twelve times. Petty theft is not a capital crime and gunning him down is still murder. The police do not have the legal right to be judge, jury and executioner.
While police, government and media spout demagogic propaganda about “looting” filled with racial prejudices and dog whistles, they give the militarized police in Ferguson billions of dollars’ worth of surplus military weapons at no charge. Nearly every report portrays the people of Ferguson as a mindless, violent mob interested only in destruction. In fact, the crowd is not irrational and apolitical, but were raising their voices to address political needs, raise political consciousness and speak out against this miscarriage of justice. The killer of Brown will not face the consequences of his actions simply because he is a white police officer and the victim was a black man. The people know a gross injustice has taken place. The force of the masses clashes head-on with the power of the state and the ruling class. All those who suffer oppression feel compelled to act. The cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown was a crime, and the failure to indict the cop who committed the murder, coupled with the postmortem demonization and blaming of the victim has been too much for the people of Ferguson and elsewhere in the United States to stomach.
These events have outraged the community, and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters show that the U.S. is a society perpetually at war with its own people. The U.S. has a long history of letting murdering police go after killing unarmed black people and using fascist methods of repression against those who resist, against those who won’t remain silent and submissive. What we see here is a grassroots working class movement against racial injustice and police murder, not an excuse to “riot” or “loot.” It is a testament to the fact that the United States is a fundamentally racist society and that fascism is an imminent threat to the working class and people of color. This crime, reinforced by the so-called “justice system” of a society built on racism, is not a new one. The Jim Crow of old has evolved into a new norm of the harshest sentences for black and Latino offenders, much more lenient sentences for whites, and amnesty for white policemen and vigilantes who murder unarmed blacks. While it was Wilson the individual who murdered Brown, and it was the police department, it was a white supremacist system that validated this profiling—that accepted that a white police officer was somehow not at fault for the shooting of an unarmed black teen.
Black people and working people cannot find justice in the American system. Rather, America’s justice system remains a vehicle where those with power and privilege are able to defend that power and privilege from the working class, and to defend the U.S. system which lets racist killers go free.
The American Party of Labor extends its condolences to the family of Michael Brown, stands in complete solidarity with the mass movement of Ferguson as well as all people targeted for harassment and repression by the police, and furthermore unequivocally states that Darren Wilson must be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown, and that justice for Brown and the countless others murdered by the U.S. government and those it protects on a daily basis can only become a reality through the mass mobilization and organization of our people on a revolutionary basis.
No justice, no peace.