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Michael Brown remembered as a ‘gentle giant’ (St. Louis Post- Dispatch)

Michael Brown posted a haunting message on Facebook last week as he prepared to enter a new phase in his life: college. “if i leave this earth today,” he wrote to a friend, “atleast youll know i care about others more then i cared about my damn self.”

Dozens arrested during protests over Ferguson police shooting (Al Jazeera America)

At least 50 were arrested in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, according to police and local media, after a second night of protests over the death of an unarmed African-American teenager shot to death by a police officer.

Police use tear gas in Ferguson, people jam church for moment of silence (St. Louis Post- Dispatch)

Tension stayed high and raw Monday as the St. Louis region waited for answers in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager by a municipal police officer.

Police use tear gas on crowd in Ferguson, Mo., protesting teen’s death (Washington Post)

For a third night, summer rage pitted the people of Ferguson against those sworn to protect them. On Saturday, officers shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. On Sunday, resident protests turned to riots, marked by looting and the burning of several local stores.

Michael Brown Shooting: Tear Gas Fired at Crowd in Ferguson (NBC News)

Fifteen arrests were made. St. Louis city alderman Antonio French posted a series of videos and pictures on Twitter documenting the police response. Young people were seen holding their hands up in the same manner that some witnesses have suggested Brown was at the time of the shooting.

Tensions in Ferguson remain ‘high and raw’ (MSNBC)

“I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” said Dorian Johnson, 22. “Then I saw the fire come out of the barrel.” He added that “what began as an order by a police officer to ‘get the f— onto the sidewalk’ quickly escalated into a physical altercation and then, gunfire.”

FBI Investigating Ferguson Police Shooting of Teen Michael Brown (NBC News)

The FBI is opening an investigation into the shooting of unarmed Missouri teenager Mike Brown by a police officer in suburban St. Louis, officials said on Monday.

Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death (MSNBC)

The last moments of Michael Brown’s life were filled with shock, fear and terror, says a witness who stood just feet away as a police officer shot and killed the unarmed teen. “I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” said Dorian Johnson, 22. “Then I saw the fire come out of the barrel.”

In defense of black rage: Michael Brown, police and the American dream (Salon)

The people of Ferguson are angry. Outraged. The officer’s story is dubious. Any black kid with sense knows it is futile to reach into an officer’s vehicle and take his gun. That story is only plausible to people who believe that black people are animals, that black men go looking for cops to pick fights with. Absurdity. Eyewitness accounts like these make far more sense.

This Is Why We’re Mad About the Shooting of Mike Brown (Jezebel)

As a black person in America, it’s getting exhausting to still have to explain, in the year 2014, your right to exist in this country. To explain that you are a human being whose value sits no lower than anyone else’s. To explain our basic humanity. And perhaps worst of all, to explain exactly why we are outraged.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown Shows How Black People Are Portrayed in Mainstream Media (The Root)

The vicious slaying of Mike Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police has once again shown that the narrative the media paints surrounding black people in America more often than not includes depicting us as violent thugs with gang and drug affiliations. It’s safe to say that Brown has become a victim of what I like to refer to as the “Trayvon Martin effect” in the media.

Michael Brown’s Death Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum (ColorLines)

Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, the black St. Louis suburb where Brown lived and died, confronted police officers on Sunday in a scene that’s since been described by the national media as one that quickly devolved into “looting.” In photos, black residents stood in front of police with their hands up to show that they were unarmed. They chanted the slogans we’ve all become too used to over the years: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

When Parenting Feels Like a Fool’s Errand: On the Death of Michael Brown. (Stacia Brown)

Did they say, “Kill the police?!” As long as that’s the way you heard it, they did. And that is what AP will wire out to every mainstream news outlet who can be bothered to report the death of another unarmed black son on a Saturday night. Their truth is not our truth.

When police departments don’t look like the cities they’re meant to protect (Washington Post)

The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson where the working-class, majority-black population has been clashing with law enforcement for the last three days has 53 commissioned police officers. According to the city’s police chief, three of them are black.

When We Are Young (Crunk Feminist Collective)

When we are young, often too young to fully understand the anxiety in their voices and the fear in their eyes, many of us listen to our parents tell us how to behave when, not if, we are stopped by the police.

Black Kids Don’t Have to Be College-Bound for Their Deaths to Be Tragic (The Root)

Missouri teen Michael Brown was unarmed when police gunned him down. We don’t need to keep talking about his college plans to communicate that his killing was dead wrong.

Michael Brown and Anti-Black Violence (The Feminist Wire)

Black life matters. Yet the police and their media support team have already begun to execute their standard playbook in the aftermath of yet another slain black youth.

National Moment of Silence Will Remember Victims of Police Brutality (Feminist Majority Foundation)

This Thursday, a National Moment of Silence will be held in cities across the country to remember the lives lost and impacted by police brutality. In the wake of two deadly police-involved shootings in less than a week, online activist Feminista Jones and individual Twitter followers were able to coordinate the event in a single day.

National Moment of Silence #NMOS14

How social media helped facilitate a national moment of silence to honor victims of police brutality, show solidarity with their families, and allow communities to come together in a moment of mourning and support.

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No Justice, No Peace (11.9.14): The State of Missouri has dedicated weapons of war to the city of Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury decision for Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson. 

Does this look right to you? Military weapons ready to be used on it’s own citizens? You can be the most racist fuck in existence, if you think the same can’t happen to your town one day, you’re a bigger idiot than I can possibly fathom. Demand justice for the people of Ferguson! #staywoke #farfromover

A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son – Alecia Phonesavanh

June 24 2014

After our house burned down in Wisconsin a few months ago, my husband and I packed our four young kids and all our belongings into a gold minivan and drove to my sister-in-law’s place, just outside of Atlanta. On the back windshield, we pasted six stick figures: a dad, a mom, three young girls, and one baby boy.

That minivan was sitting in the front driveway of my sister-in-law’s place the night a SWAT team broke in, looking for a small amount of drugs they thought my husband’s nephew had. Some of my kids’ toys were in the front yard, but the officers claimed they had no way of knowing children might be present. Our whole family was sleeping in the same room, one bed for us, one for the girls, and a crib.

After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib.

Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle. When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.

There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. At least that’s what I’ve been told; I’m afraid to look.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.

For the last three weeks, my husband and I have been sleeping at the hospital. We tell our son that we love him and we’ll never leave him behind. His car seat is still in the minivan, right where it’s always been, and we whisper to him that soon we’ll be taking him home with us.

Every morning, I have to face the reality that my son is fighting for his life. It’s not clear whether he’ll live or die. All of this to find a small amount of drugs?

The only silver lining I can possibly see is that my baby Bou Bou’s story might make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the “war on drugs.” I know that this has happened to other families, here in Georgia and across the country. I know that SWAT teams are breaking into homes in the middle of the night, more often than not just to serve search warrants in drug cases. I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted.  I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT.

A few nights ago, my 8-year-old woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “No, don’t kill him! You’re hurting my brother! Don’t kill him.” How can I ever make that go away? I used to tell my kids that if they were ever in trouble, they should go to the police for help. Now my kids don’t want to go to sleep at night because they’re afraid the cops will kill them or their family. It’s time to remind the cops that they should be serving and protecting our neighborhoods, not waging war on the people in them.

I pray every minute that I’ll get to hear my son’s laugh again, that I’ll get to watch him eat French fries or hear him sing his favorite song from “Frozen.” I’d give anything to watch him chase after his sisters again. I want justice for my baby, and that means making sure no other family ever has to feel this horrible pain.

Alecia Phonesavanh is the mother of Bounkham Phonesavanh, nicknamed “Baby Bou Bou.” She and her family live in Atlanta. For more information about Bou Bou, go to www.justiceforbabyboubou.com.

The 14 Teens Killed by Cops Since Michael Brown | The Daily Beast

Since Ferguson, police have killed more than a dozen teenagers, half of them black. Some did nothing more than carry a BB gun.

Michael Brown’s death on August 9 was a nationwide wake-up call to the death-by-cop of young minority men at the hands of law enforcement. According to datastretching from 1999 to 2011, African Americans have comprised 26 percent of all police-shooting victims. Overall, young African Americans are killed by cops 4.5 times more often than people of other races and ages.

Since Brown’s death, at least 14 other teenagers—at least six of them African-American—have been killed by law enforcement in a variety of circumstances.

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice wasn’t yet a teenager when he was killed on November 22 in a Cleveland, Ohio park. The 12-year-old boy was shot by a police officer after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun. A call made to police beforehand described Rice as “a guy with a pistol” on a swing set, but said it was “probably fake.” When officers arrived at the scene, they say Rice reached for his toy, though did not point it at them, prompting a first-year policeman to fire two shots at Rice from a short distance.

On Monday night, as the Brown indictment verdict was announced, a local councilor summed these up without getting tangled in blame and legalities:

“Perhaps, after our analysis, we learn that the police officer really did fear for his life and did everything right under the circumstances,” City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson said at a meeting. “But there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer.”

Cameron Tillman

On the evening of September 21, police were called to check on reports of trespassers with weapons going into an abandoned home in Terrebonne, Louisiana. Cameron Tillman, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead on the scene by a sheriff’s deputy. His brother, who was there, said he was shot opening the door and was unarmed, but the police said he was armed and that a gun was recovered near his body. It was later reported that the weapon was a BB gun that appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. The cop was not named, but was identified as an African-American veteran of the division with no prior infractions.

VonDerrit Myers Jr.

VonDerrit Myers Jr. was shot in the head in early October not far from where Michael Brown died two months earlier. The 18-year-old was shot six or seven times in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis after an off-duty police officer fired at him 17 times. Police say Myers charged at the policeman, they wrestled, and then he shot at least three bullets before his gun jammed. Myers had been out on bail in a gun case, but his family claimed he was unarmed and holding only a sandwich in his hand. That night, a crowd of 300 gathered at the scene, and violence broke out: gunshots echoed and police vehicles were damaged. The officer who shot Myers was identified as Jason Flanery, a 32-year-old white patrolman.

Laquan McDonald

After a tire-puncturing spree in late October, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald wasshot dead by a police officer in Chicago. Officers reported to a call about someone breaking into cars in the Archer Heights neighborhood. The teen refused to drop his knife, according to officers, fixed them with “a 100-yard stare,” and walked toward them. That’s when a cop fired at McDonald, killing him.

Carey Smith-Viramontes

Few details have been revealed about the shooting of an 18-year-old girl in Long Beach, California last week. Officers were responding to a report of a missing juvenile girl, and found her in the house of Carey Smith-Viramontes. According to police, Smith-Viramontes was armed with a knife and was shot dead by an officer on the scene.

Jeffrey Holden

An 18-year-old was killed by police officers after opening fire on a cop with two guns in Kansas City in late October. Jeffrey Holden had reportedly been shooting at houses and passersby before the authorities arrived at the scene. he was listed as a missing person and had two outstanding warrants.

Qusean Whitten

Two armed robbers were killed after holding up a Dollar General Store in Columbus, Ohio in October. Eighteen-year-old Qusean Whitten had jumped from the car he was using to flee the scene and started running when police opened fire.

Miguel Benton

In early October, 19-year-old Miguel Benton managed to steal an officer’s gun and shoot him twice. Two cops were transporting Benton and another inmate to jail on drug and robbery charges in Georgia when the incident occurred. Another officer shot and killed Benton.

Dillon McGee

Eighteen-year-old Dillon McGee of Jackson, Tennessee, died after being shot by police officers who claim he was attempting to run them over in a car. On September 26, officers were targeted after approaching a car, driven by McGee, and fired at the driver. McGee was the father of a one-month-old son.

Levi Weaver

A man welding a baseball bat and a kitchen knife lunged at police officers in his home in Georgia, and was fatally shot in late September. According to the sheriff, 18-year-old Levi Weaver begged the officer to shoot him, and then leapt at him. The officer shot Weaver twice.

Karen Cifuentes

A 19-year-old woman was killed in September after an undercover police watched a drug deal go down in Oklahoma City. One of the suspects got in a car driven by Karen Cifuentes and took off, apparently hitting one of the officers who fired then opened fire and killed her.

Sergio Ramos

In August, an 18-year-old was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer after a car crash in a parking lot near a Walmart store. According to police, Sergio Ramos had just robbed a killed an associate when he was confronted by an off-duty cop, reached for the gun in his shorts, and was shot multiple times.

Roshad McIntosh

Some 500 anti-police protesters took to Chicago’s streets after a 19-year-old man’s death at the hands of police. On August 24, Roshad McIntosh was being questioned by cops when he began running. Police say he pulled a gun on them, but his family claimed that McIntosh was kneeling on the ground with his hands in the air. Nearly a month later, his mother brought another protest to city hall, demanding answers in her son’s killing.

Diana Showman

A mentally ill woman brandishing a power drill was shot dead by an officer after she called 911 and told San Jose dispatchers she had an Uzi. Diana Showman, 19, had come out of her house, ignored demands to put down the weapon, and was shot once. Showman’s parents criticized the officer’s response, saying that the police needed to be better equip to handle mental health issues.

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Today in Solidarity: Protesters gather in Oakland against the Urban Shield conference and police militarization

Ever wonder where cities get all their fancy ideas on how to militarize their police force? It’s not just from the Pentagon– it’s conferences like Urban Shield, that highlight the latest in tactical equipment and practices for suppressing the very people you’re sworn to serve. #staywoke #whodoyouprotect #whodoyouserve 

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No Justice, No Peace (11.8.14): Businesses in Ferguson are boarding up in anticipation of a violent response when the non-indictment Darren Wilson is announced later this month. Meanwhile, STLPD, in collaboration with the National Guard bring vehicles of war onto the streets of Ferguson.

While I could go on and on “in defense of black rage,” I detest this assumption that protesters will turn into violent mobs as the latest round of injustice takes hold in Ferguson. They said the same thing about us in Florida when George Zimmerman was let off for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Not a single business was damaged in the aftermath. If anything, the presence of military weapons on the ground in St Louis County is the truly inflammatory statement. This is every Orwellian nightmare come true. #staywoke #farfromover

“Looting and Rioting”

First, people need to understand something about the “riots” in Ferguson: I get the feeling that a lot of White people are somehow thinking “Wow, those Black people just stood up in their living rooms and basically set fires to their own residences”

Not the way it works…

You know what neighborhood businesses typically get burned? The ones that aren’t Black owned. You’ve seen them — the pawn shops, the quick-marts, the pay-day loan stores, the liquor stores, the third tier rent-to-own stores…you know, the kind of stores you rarely see on every other corner in middle class White neighborhoods. In short, all the businesses endemic of profiteering and structural poverty…the same businesses that like to follow innocent Black people around in stores for no reason. The businesses that won’t hire many of the Black people living in the neighborhoods they’re profiting off of. The businesses that charge twice as much for the same goods & services that are half as expensive in White neighborhoods

THOSE are the businesses that typically get burned in impoverished neighborhoods. Now, while I’m not necessarily advocating riots, I will repeat the words of Martin Luther King Jr, I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard

Second, Other than corporate media outlets repeating what the police are telling them, I haven’t seen much hard evidence of honest to God unprovoked “rioting”…but what I have seen is lots of white police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters. I’ve seen militarized police aim guns, tanks and sound cannons at unarmed civilians in their own neighborhoods. I’ve seen police not interviewing, but arresting key witnesses. I’ve seen people getting gassed in their homes—THEIR HOMES—for committing the crime of what, being Black at home?

The media goes on and on about “looting and rioting” without focusing too much on the police’s strong-arm tactics, they’re complicit in furthering the ratings meme of “unreasonably angry Black people” 

False media narratives: do the words match the facts?

Militarized police pointed their guns at an empty house for hours this afternoon, while community members talked down suspect who had run to nearby church. [part seven/]

Tuesday, April 21st.

The three hour police standoff in Ferguson this afternoon ended with a SWAT team finding the house to be empty. The man they were searching for, named Lorenzo, had escaped to a nearby church, where people there spoke with him and convinced him to turn himself over to the police. Lorenzo, who is schizophrenic, is currently receiving mental health attention.

Part Seven [final]

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Militarized Police and National Guard Attack #NoDAPL Protest Camp

If this doesn’t open up your eyes and show you that our government cares more about corporate agendas than the people in this country, I don’t know what will. #Hate it!

Amnesty International just sent human rights observers to North Dakota to protect water protectors

[IMAGE: Amnesty International in North Dakota watching #NoDAPL.]

Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has sent a team of human rights observers to monitor law enforcement response to those protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The decision to send the team came in response to reports of militarized police deploying pepper spray, bean bags, and strip searches, as well as a case where improperly trained mercenaries allowed guard dogs to bite multiple protesters. The protesters – who prefer to be referred to as water protectors – have so far emphasized the importance of peaceful protesting tactics. Members of the media have also been arrested for covering the confrontations.

“Our observers are here to ensure that everyone’s human rights are protected,” said Eric Ferrero, director of communications for AIUSA. “We’re deeply concerned about what we heard during our previous visit to Standing Rock and what has been reported to us since.

“People here just want to stand up for the rights of Indigenous people and protect their natural resources. These people should not be treated like the enemy. Police must keep the peace using minimal force appropriate to the situation. Confronting men, women, and children while outfitted in gear more suited for the battlefield is a disproportionate response.”

As recently as October 27th, 2016, hundreds of officers in full riot gear deployed sonic weaponry capable of inflicting long term ear damage against the protesters before arresting them by the dozens.

AIUSA sent a delegation of observers to the area in August and has stayed in contact both with the Indigenous community and those policing the protests since then. Letters had previously been sent to the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Morton County Sheriff’s office calling for law enforcement officers to respect international human rights standards on the policing of protests.

AIUSA has been in close contact with both the water protectors and police forces and plans to call on the Department of Justice to investigate the methods that police use to handle peaceful protesters.

Amnesty International has also monitored police action in relation to protesters in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD, after the communities erupted in response to police shootings. They were also on the ground to observe protests outside the Republican and Democratic Conventions earlier this summer.

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[I]f the 4,489 American soldiers killed in combat in Iraq constitute a condition of war, then the killing of 5,000 American civilians by United States police departments ought to be viewed as a war on we the People by our very own government.