The media’s main theme for Ferguson has been racial, but we all know it is more than that. This conflict arrays citizen against state authorities State authorities cannot just shoot you down in the middle of the street because they feel like it, no matter what color the police officer, no matter what color the victim. Remember, leaving Michael Brown’s body in the street for hours was not an accident. The city would have removed a dead stray dog faster than they removed Michael Brown.
Without a doubt, the state has made itself an enemy of the state. Here is what I mean: state authorities, including militarized police, think that because they have all the power of the state behind them, they can do what they like, including shoot people at will. Unarmed citizens comprise the real state, though, and policemen who shoot people indiscriminately have made themselves criminals.
No unarmed, unaggressive person interacting with police officers should ever feel afraid of being injured, let alone murdered. Yet militarized, cynical or hyped up policemen have been getting away with murder for years now. Thank you, residents of Ferguson, for reacting to this behavior with the anger, indignation, and resistance it calls for. Thank you for setting such a good example of resistance and reverence for the dead.
We don’t know why Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown. We don’t know whether race had anything to do with the murder. We do know that Michael Brown was not a threat to Officer Wilson. Therefore shooting him was not justified. You cannot shoot someone because he is afraid of you and starts running away. People in Ferguson are fed up with that way of thinking. We should all stand with them.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! I wonder if policemen who use lethal force so readily even grasp the significance of that protest. Do they realize the people they are supposed to protect have come to regard them as threatening people with guns, on the verge of committing another crime every time they interact with someone they don’t like? The protest is perfect, because the chant captures the total submission that criminals seek to obtain from their victims.
Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! You know what that means on the streets, if a policeman tags you as a hostile? Hands Up, We’ll Shoot You Anyway.
When a criminal gang murders someone, they leave the body lying in the street for hours because it sends a message to anyone who might want to cross or defy the organization in the future. That’s exactly what the Ferguson police did after they shot Michael Brown. They let his body lie in the street for four hours and thirty-two minutes after he died. They did not explain why they did that. They did not need to explain why they let his body lie in the street. The answer is obvious.
We are all citizens with our hands up. We are all citizens subject to intimidation. First the state comes for the weak, then the state comes for dissidents, at last the state comes for you. People of Ferguson volunteer to take take Michael Brown’s place. They dare the police: shoot us if you want to. We want you to stop and we have had enough. No one escapes judgment. We have had enough.
Stand with the people of Ferguson and St. Louis. Stand with families everywhere who have lost beloved members to a police state that has actually become maniacal. Stand with anyone – high or low, powerful or weak, parents, children, clergy, white, black, afraid or unafraid – who defends our dignity and our liberty, who stands up to defend civil rights that belong to every one of us.