Who Killed Mike Brown? What to Do?
by Mel Reeves
This article previously appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.
“This system cannot produce justice for us.”
Mike Brown is dead. The Ferguson police took their time in giving up the killer, Darren Wilson. But we know the name of his accomplice. So we know who and what killed Mike Brown. It was the political, economic, social system called capitalism.
It was this system that continues to manufacture the image of criminal Black people. It was the system that demands second-class status for ghettoized Black youth and middle-class Blacks in general. It was the system that allows cops to kill folks and say they felt threatened. It was the system that carries out a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
They look really hard for criminality in the Black community, and by pouring in lots of law enforcement personnel, giving the young people poor education, easy access to guns and dope, discriminating against them in every area imaginable, keeping them unemployed, then like magic the conditions have been created that justify police presence. And just to make sure they don't get the idea to rebel against their situation, police brutalize the community and on occasion they shoot or kill one to make the point that in America "you ain't got nothing coming."
This old soldier has been constantly at his post saying to anyone who will listen, it's the system, it's the system. I can provide proof.
Almost 50 years to the date of the Ferguson rebellion, Watts blew up in rebellion. So 50 years ago the same thing happened for the same reasons. Black Ferguson, like Watts at the time, has high unemployment (especially among young males), too much poverty, too many drugs and not enough drug treatment centers. Too many Black folks were being sent to prison for too long, too much policing in its neighborhood, too much racism, substandard housing, poor healthcare options and a sense of second-class status. Could there be something wrong with the political, economic, social system that brought these conditions to light?
“The irony is, the system can't really operate without your consent.”
I know, the idea of actually rolling up our sleeves and pursuing a different path is downright scary and has not been given the seal of approval by our longtime masters the Democratic Party and the GOP. Yes, these folks have money and guns, they have power. But the irony is, the system can't really operate without your consent. Enough failed cooperation and the system can't pay its armed bodies of men that harass and brutalize our communities.
Scary stuff, but as the great hip hop icon Jeezy said recently at a concert, "If your dreams don't scare you then you aren't dreaming big enough." Jeezy is right; it's time to dream bigger dreams. It's time to dream about us coming together to make real change. This system, as our prophets Malcolm X, Martin King, W.E.B. DuBois and others tried to tell us, cannot produce justice for us.
"Their" police have lots of leeway. Legally they can shoot you in the back if in their perception you are a danger to them or the public. Being unarmed doesn't mean anything to them. They have the law and the state behind them and, truth be told, their "real" job is to keep citizens of the U.S. in our place! Believe the propaganda about good cops and bad cops and all that's needed is better training and sensitivity at your own peril!
Until the law changes, and the need of the state to use the police to reinforce the negative stereotypes and continue to carry out their divide-and-rule scam changes, we will be waking up and reading about tragedy or one of us may be the victim.
Speaking of victim, we have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. The "hands up don't shoot" chant is good at making the point about what the cops did. But more to the point, the demand in St. Louis and around the country has to be "Prosecute the Police," arrest and prosecute the cop who killed Mike Brown.
“We have the right to life.”
Why demand prosecution of the police when judging from past history there is a snowball's chance of seeing him prosecuted? You ask for what it is you want and in doing so, though chances may be slim, you may get it. It also makes it clear to folks that our people are human beings and citizens. You can't just shoot us down in the streets, and if you do we deserve to have justice.
It also reminds folks that we have a right to recourse. If someone does something to us, we demand that they be arrested and prosecuted just as any other citizen. This demand changes the narrative. It helps folks understand that the police – even if they are – should not be above the law.
It also points toward the fact that if this is the law, then it should indeed be changed. Demanding prosecution of the police is ultimately what we want; it teaches young people that when their rights are violated they should have and should demand that justice be done.
Jeezy is right, we need to dream big dreams, scary dreams. Dreams that picture a society that is run for and by the people and not a ruling class of super-rich White folks.
In dreaming that kind of society we won't have to be disappointed as the chief executive feebly says, we have the right to protest. We know we have that right. More importantly we have the right to life. It's scary but the prevention of Ferguson and Mike Brown and Eric Garner will only come about when we dare carry out the vision, the dream of a new society in which everyone has health care, a job that pays a fair wage, and is treated fairly and equally by the system.
May some folks come forth and carry out that dream!
Mel Reeves is a community organizer living in Minneapolis. He welcomes reader response to [email protected]