The Killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and How to Join #NMOS14 Today
The days since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed in the St. Louis, MO, suburb of Ferguson have been surrounded by questions. Brown's death, which police say happened after an altercation involving a gun, is now at the center of much grief, outrage, protest and a renewed call to examine racial tensions and police procedure—along with a a National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) to be observed today, Thursday, August 14, at 4PM PT/7PM ET.
UPDATED: BlogHer Editor Feminista Jones started the hashtag #NMOS 14 to organize a National Moment of Silence on Thursday, August 14. Events will take place in cities nationwide, and you can follow NMOS on Twitter or the NMOS14 Facebook page to get updates, a list of locations, and instructions. This is a peaceful vigil, and not to be confused with any event with "rage" in the name.
The police shooting has thrown the inner-ring St. Louis suburb of Ferguson into the spotlight, with #Ferguson trending on Twitter over several days, with journalists and a local politician arrested last night. Columnist Aisha Sultan at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tries to explain the racial climate of the area to outsiders:
It's a false dichotomy, a lazy narrative, to see this region as divided among racist whites and angry blacks. That's not reality in many neighborhoods and families here. But it's the loudest, most visible part of the discourse. Like much of America, St. Louis has an undeniable problem talking about or dealing with issues involving race.
Among the most common things we hear about Brown is that he was unarmed and supposed to begin his college orientation today. However, Roxane Gay has writes a thought-provoking analysis, saying that pointing out Brown's merits actually distracts attention away from the question of whether police were justified in shooting him:
I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.
Jenn M. Jackson writes at Water Cooler Convos that the death of of Michael Brown needs to analyzed not as an isolated event, but in the context of nation's historical treatment of African Americans.
White fear has manifested itself in outright violence post-slavery through the imposition of Jim Crow segregation. White fear has manifested itself legislatively via redlining laws and cruel lending practices barring blacks from owning property in ‘white neighborhoods.’ White fear has manifested itself in so many structural ways that it has become part and parcel with the fundamental functions of every private and governmental institution in this country. White fear is inescapable.
What People on Twitter Are Saying
While media coverage of Ferguson has been intense with images of looting and rioting, Twitter has been a source of many viewpoints, including prolific updates from the scene by St. Louis Alderman Antonio French (@AntonioFrench):
— Robin (@caulkthewagon) August 10, 2014
— Khaled Bey (@KhaledBeydoun) August 11, 2014
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 11, 2014
— Elisa Camahort (@ElisaC) August 11, 2014
Avert your eyes, bow your head, make yourself appear small and non-threatening, be dead inside---then maybe they won't kill you. #Ferguson
— Frizzy Gillespie (@HeidiByNature) August 11, 2014
It's up to the people of #Ferguson to decide how they will respond to the oppression they experience. You don't get an "opinion".
— BGD (@BlackGirlDanger) August 11, 2014
— Young Conservatives (@YoungCons) August 11, 2014
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) August 11, 2014
— Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk) August 11, 2014
I haven't seen police show up in riot gear whenever the KKK organize and protest. Why is that? #Ferguson
— 3ChicsPolitico (@3ChicsPolitico) August 11, 2014
I was raised to fear the police and I continue to fear the police. It's my life. It's OUR life. #Ferguson
— Heather L. Barmore (@HeatherBarmore) August 10, 2014
— Mihee Kim-Kort (@miheekimkort) August 10, 2014
News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.