While a St. Louis Grand Jury Returns Decision in Mike Brown Case, Ferguson Speaks About Systemic Change

FERGUSON, MO — A St. Louis County Grand Jury returned Thursday and with them a decision as to whether or not to levy charges against Darren Wilson for the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown Jr. Despite having the Grand Jury’s decision, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, for logistical purposes, has opted to announce the jurors’ conclusions on Sunday morning. Area schools have responded by announcing closures for next week, and over the next 48 hours, the media, who has once again descended upon Ferguson, MO, will repeat iterations of the same lede, variations of hysterical accounts, or ominous foreshadows of impending violence. Few will ask how locals about their desires to create a more equitable Ferguson and even fewer will provide a platform to those who already laying the foundation for that prospect. We set out to fill this void.

Last week, with support from Hands Up United, Sparrow’s Andy Stepanian and Jeff Wirth of Burning Hearts Media created the video communiqué above. This 9-minute clip provides a surreal temperature check of what it is truly like during these uncertain hours on the ground.

In an effort to forego our own analysis, and keep the focus on the community of Ferguson, attached below are statements from the community members and activists we interviewed. Please consider sharing their words this weekend in place of the hyperbolic headlines that will otherwise occupy your timelines:

“I wish that they would have did the right thing. I wish that . . . This was a golden opportunity for our politicians to be on the right side of history, but they chose not to. So for me, man, it’s like . . . I’ve always felt if it’s “fuck us,” then it’s “fuck you” toward the system.” —Tef Poe, Artist, Activist & Cofounder of HandsUpUnited.org

“Until the Governor chooses to truly address the systemic issues that the murder of Michael Brown brought to the surface for many Americans, no press release or commission board will truly help this community move forward from this tragedy” — Ashley Yates, Co-creator of Millennial Activists United

“For nearly 100 days, the preponderance of violence has come from the hands of police. We have proven we can peacefully assemble and function at a protest, can the police say the same?” —Community Organizer Damon Davis

“You’re killing young, black youth, my age, in the streets. We ’90s babies, ’80s babies. I don’t give a fuck how many guns you got, none of that. We react off our feelings.” —Community Organizer, Low Key

“Governer Nixon’s choice to act unilaterally in this police plan is a slap in the face to every protestor who has worked tirelessly over the past 90+ days to reach peaceful solutions.” —Taurean Russell, Cofounder of HandsUpUnited.org

“If Governor Nixon wants to instruct police as to how to respond to protestors he need not look any further than the rules of engagement issued by the Don’t Shoot Coalition” — Montague Simmons, Coordinator for The Organization for Black Struggle

“I’m not here to try to validate the justice system, because there’s a lot of changes that need to occur. But the indictment of Darren Wilson is the first step of many that need to take place. We got to get him indicted first.” — David Whitt, The Canfield Watchmen

“Nobody is asking for Darren Wilson to be killed. Nobody’s asking for him to be shot in the street. Nobody is asking for him to be strung up, like we have been for every decade of every century that we’ve been here. We’re asking for him to be charged for the crime that he committed in front of witnesses. There’s a system that’s in place. You created the system. You enforce the system every day. We’re saying that guy should be included in the system. That’s all.” — Jesse Williams, Activist and Actor

“When they actually offer something that stares in the face of anti-black sentiments that exist in this country, when we actually start to talk to each other and hear each other, and we don’t throw the race card term around, we don’t throw the racism word around, this innocuous word that no one knows what it means, when we actually sit down and we go, ‘No’ these systems that we have in place are anti-black. These policies that we have in place are anti-black. This shoot-first, ask-questions-later is anti-black. The way that we treat our black slain men and women in the media after they’ve been gunned down and can no longer speak for themselves is anti-black. When they throw that political bone, and we can actually address it and start to make change, then we’ll be satisfied” — Ashley Yates, Co-creator of Millennial Activists United


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  1. Thank you so much for filling this void!

  2. Come on, the whole thing is so loaded on the side of Wilson we already know what the decision is. Doesn’t matter that an unarmed person was murdered from 140 feet away, the whole corrupt racist system doesn’t care. They simply don’t care.

    • 140 ft away? Where did you hear that? That’s a stretch considering that the officer was using a police patrol pistol. Highly inaccurate from that distance and definitely couldn’t hit a moving target efficiently multiple times.

    • Okay, I’m not debating what was reported, credible or not. What im saying is that there is virtually no likely scenario that would make that realistic. I’m not a cop, but I was military and carried a full size .40 cal in 2 tours in Iraq. I can debunk this about 10 different ways. Not saying that anyone is wrong, I’m just saying that it’s HIGHLY unlikely regardless of what anyone said.

      • Well, IF the video proof shows that the space between the site of the killing and the police car was over 140 feet, AND Wilson’s account of events says he was within 35 feet of Brown, AND the police department’s account of events says Wilson was in his car, then EITHER Wilson is an amazing marksman who hit someone 140 feet away with his service pistol (and residue from the world’s longest muzzle flash) at the exact moment they spun around to face him and ducked down, OR someone is lying about whether Wilson got out of his car and chased Brown down to execute him.

      • Exactly. The sheer odds of it all lining up to him being able to even hit a target at that distance, as a patrol officer using a service pistol, immediately following a confrontation with adrenaline pumping is next to impossible. Yes, cops go to the range, but the certainly don’t practice anything remotely close to that. He would have had to know the wind and that a .40 drops dramatically at that range. We aren’t even talking about a swat operator here. He couldn’t have done it even if he had a spotter.

        However, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that he is indicted. Let’s not act like there’s not footage of Brown resisting violently to a confrontation in a store just before. I’m saying that it happened at a short distance and there’s no way to definitively say that Wilson didn’t fear for his life. There is no PROOF of malicious intent. Likely, both Brown and Wilson should have handled the situation differently and this would have been prevented. With that being said, it’s a wash and Wilson won’t be charged. Bank on it.

  3. Right on. Stay strong. Keep pushing the energy that an indictment can come from this community itself. If not, pushing to #normalizetolerance and the basic #Right2Exist requires a Federal grand jury to be convened. Robert Kennedy echos loudly in my head right now.

  4. The problem is that the media is latching on to the minority of people who are saying DW should be killed in the street. And the moronic, uninformed white people are believing this is the motto of the justice movement. It’s bullshit. If the system can at least admit that there was even a semblance of misconduct by D, then I will be wholeheartedly surprised. As a white person, fuck. Let my brothers and sisters of color be as free as me.

  5. CNN saying grand jury is still meeting. What school districts besides Jennings have cancelled classes?

    • We have our own sources embedded in the process. We can’t respond directly to CNN’s news as they are sourcing from tertiary sources while ours are secondary. Needless to say, something happened which as postponed tomorrow’s announcement set for 11am CT. As for the names of the schools we don’t know that.

  6. Thank you for posting this video! I’m up in Canada, and I frankly knew nothing about Ferguson. I’d heard rumblings about riots by black Americans, and I would have to admit that I brushed it off as a bunch of criminals just looking for “another” excuse to be violent and engage in looting. And yes, I thank mainstream media for feeding me with enough garbage to make THAT my instinctive assumption.
    While watching your video though, I heard intelligent citizens expressing important concerns and I was suddenly interested. I love what the one lady said about taking the confusing “racism” word out of the discussion and just looking at the facts (I mean, I’m up here in Canada and I have zero meaningful comprehension about what racism means in the context of African Americans). I’ve been googling for the last hour, trying to find out what’s actually going on down there. And honestly, my heart is breaking. I wish success to the activists … and peace to Ferguson … and change for my American neighbors.
    Again … thank you for engaging me, so that I could see (and CARED to see) beyond the sensationalist perspective of mainstream media (and their pitiful distortion and waste of what SHOULD be a critical moment in American history).

  7. THOSE WHO SPAWN THESE DEMENTED CRIMINAL PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY EVIL AND TO EXPECT OTHER THAN THEIR RIOTING IS TO EXPECT THEM TO ACT OTHER THAN DOING EVIL WITH IS THEIR VERY NATURE.

  8. I stand with the people of Ferguson who want to see justice in the killing of Mike Brown and handsupunited.com. This has to stop. This is clearly a case of a cop going way to far. If he truly felt threatened, he could’ve attempted to shoot the gun out of his hand. But he just kept shooting until there was no chance that the kid was alive, until he was dead. None. This was not just self-defense. It was murder. Cops have to learn they can’t just shoot people indiscriminately. There are other ways to protect yourself and to determine if people are a threat and this cop should’ve learned that in his training. It’s just completely unacceptable and has to stop.