Wednesday, November 26, 2014



I'll be on a break again for about ten days.  I want to leave you with this comment...

Witness 10's testimony at the Ferguson grand jury (the key testimony according to the prosecutor and the only one besides Darren Wilson he mentioned in his press conference) was the only one who matched Wilson's narrative from start to finish, especially Wilson's claim that Brown bull rushed him (while his body was full of multiple bullets). When Witness 10 was first interviewed by investigators he said he was 100 yards way from the scene. But by the time he testified before the grand jury, his story had now changed. He now claimed he was 50 to 75 yards away. This witness also said he saw Mike Brown make some sort of bodily movement but he was not sure what it was. He said he was not sure three times about that at the GJ. He added, thought, amazingly, that he knew Brown was not surrendering. McCulloch found his testimony more compelling than unchanged testimony from witnesses who were 20 ft and 20 yards away, who saw Brown stumbling forward, reeling from multiple gun shot wounds. We have been given no further information on this witness but that he did not wear glasses. We don't know if he is twelve years old or eighty years old, if he ever had his eyes examined, if he needed glasses, if he was on drugs or in trouble with the law. The prosecutor didn't ask and we don't know. We do know he changed his testimony. My question, would we trust an official standing in one end zone to call a holding penalty in the other end zone, seriously. Would we trust an official standing even on the fifty to seventy-five yards away to make that call? Hell no. This is the KEY witness according to the asshole prosecutor. Give me a break.

The following is from Daily Kos..



Frank Vyan Walton

Last night, the second night following the Non-dictment of Officer Darren Wilson in his fatal shooting of a unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Lawrence O'Donnell went through chapter and verse the various problems with the one witness quoted by "Prosecutor" Bob McCullough as verifying Wilson's claim that the reason he shot Brown to death was because he was running at him in a "Full Charge".

O'Donnell points out here that this witness initially claimed to be 100 yards from the conflict but then later - in a manner exactly like the complaint McCullough used against other witnesses - changed his story to claim that he was on 50-75 yards away.
Just as we should question the testimony of Witness 40 who also claimed that Brown "Charged" even though her own Journal notes indicate she had a problem with not habituallycalling black people "Niggers" - shouldn't we also question the veracity of a witness who was not only much farther away than many other witnesses who claimed the exact opposite, but then can't keep his (or her) story straight on just how far away from the conflict they really were?
When we remember the virtual pummeling that Rachel Jeantel went though when she testified that George Zimmerman was the person to first touch and/or hit Trayvon Martin before eventually killing him after an intense struggle.
I'm also including video from the previous night of O'Donnell's show which highlight many of the irregularities and strangeness of how this "Prosecutor" approached this case.   As Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom states, this process was "Rigged".
Originally in his police interview just 2 days after the shooting Witness #10 claimed that Micheal Brown and his friend were walking on the sidewalk.  Many reports show that this isn't true and they were actually walking in the middle of the street, which is exactly why Officer Wilson first confronted them.  Later with the Grand Jury Witness #10 then changes his testimony to claim that Michael Brown and his companion were walking "next to the curb".
There are multiple points where this witness states "I can't be sure", "I don't know", yet this is the one witness - the only witness - that "Prosecutor" McCullough bothered to quote during his press conference to explain away the lack of an indictment of Officer Darren Wilson?
There are multiple witnesses who dispute the claims made by Wilson and Witness #10 in this case.  Normally the veracity of Wilson and this witness or other witnesses would be challenged by a vigorous Prosecutor, they would have to stand up to scrutiny  - but there was no scrutiny of Wilson's claims, there was no cross examination of his testimony or of this witnesses testimony.
So how exactly are we supposed to take their word for it instead of the word of those who were much closer to the event and/or have nothing personally gain or lose by simply telling what they saw?
Is it possible that this witness and Officer Wilson are the correct ones in this situation and every other witness - even those who were only a few feet away from the incident - are all wrong?
Maybe. Possibly. But not likely.
Common sense and logic says that the preponderance of facts says that those who stated that after running away Michael Brown stopped and put his hand up to surrender are probably not wrong. The fact is that this person is a Defense Witness and although they possibly should have had a chance to bring forth their view in a full trial where that could be challenged and verified, just as Rachel was challenged, a Defense witness really doesn't belong in the middle of a Grand Jury where the initial question is "Is there enough evidence to go to trial"?
Yes, there was enough to go to trial. Could Wilson have been acquitted in that trial? Maybe, under the current Missouri law which allows Police Officers to use deadly force whenever they "feel threatened" rather than when they have "probable cause", but rather than have the debate and argument we have this: a witness who changed their story and were further away than other witnesses who didn't being given more credence simply because that's who the "prosecutor" wanted the Grand Jury to believe, rather than the truth.
And this is why people were out protesting in the streets last night, tonight and probably tomorrow night - Justice was not served here.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014


What is there left for me to say about the cold blooded killing of Michael Brown and the absolute white wash that has followed?  What is there left for me to say that I haven't said a thousand times before?  Yes, I was outraged.  No, I was not surprised.  Well, let me qualify that.  I was surprised by how openly blatant the racist and white supremacist this process was.  I was surprised by how blatantly that prosecutor, whose name I can't bring myself to say, was in his total disregard for decency, for how clearly he displayed his own racism, for his lack of emotion, for his hypocrisy, for his ability to tell one absurd lie after another, to think that we wouldn't notice.  Are you kidding me?  We saw a prosecutor who worked as a defense attorney for Darren Wilson before, during, and after the grand jury process.  This was a prosecutor who convened a grand jury to slam and vilify Michael Brown and to exonerate a killer.   This was a prosecutor so oblivious to reality, so taken with himself, so overcome by his own white supremacism, that he decides to announce the decision during prime time TV.  What was that?

It makes me sick, but the system worked just as it is designed to work.  It worked to defend white supremacy and white skin privilege, to defend killer cops and a killer State, it did it's work well.  

In the post below, Chauncey DeVega will brilliantly, simply, and with a sense of rage destroy the white supremacist, nonsensical testimony of Darren Wilson.  I will only add one thing.  The simply most ridiculous  part of Wilson and the prosecutor's story to me was the notion that following the supposed confrontation at the cop's car, following the wounding of Michael Brown, following the story that Michael Brown then ran off, was obviously out of the reach of this cop, for some unknown reason, stops, turns around, and decides to run toward an armed police officer.  Give me a break.  That line is not the most racist aspect of the testimony, but to me it is the most absurd.

Anyway, following all that we have seen here and everywhere we are asked by every "responsible" person from the President on down to channel our rage, let the justice system do its work, hold a dialogue on race, work to make things better...blah, blah, blah.  Are these people blind?

I will add here just a few short comments I made last night on Facebook as this travesty was brought into my living room.

By the time you read this you will probably know what the grand jury in Ferguson did or did not do. As I write this we are waiting to see. Nothing would surprise me. If they do indict, we should all remember that still doesn't mean a hell of a lot. What will mean something, never enough, but something will be the day this killer cop sees the jail door lock behind him. Until then, nothing. Even if that ever happens, which seems very doubtful to me, justice will, of course, not been done. Mike Brown will still be dead. White supremacy will still continue. Cops will still be shooting down African Americans. In other words, we are a long way from justice.
In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls...
Lenny Bruce

...and there really ain't much justice there either....

The news media, at least CNN, which I have on with no sound while reading THE HALF HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD is treating the GJ decision like it is an upcoming football game. Almost surreal...

The white supremacist system worked as usual..

If you are a white person, ask yourself, "What would John Brown do?"

I was indicted by a federal grand jury way back in 1971 by Nixon's justice department and charged in a bombing conspiracy as an alleged weatherperson. I can guarantee you the process was absolutely the reverse of this one. In this one, the prosecutor acted as the defense attorney for a killer cop. The prosecutor did everything in his power to insure there would be no indictment. There was nothing similar between the grand jury process which was utilized to EXONERATE the man who killed Mike Brown, a young unarmed African American, and the millions of grand juries that have been used to indict African American men and women, not even similar to the vast majority of grand juries used to indict poor and working class whites, not similar to the grand juries used to intimidate and jail activists, not even similar to the grand juries used to indict ham sandwiches. This grand jury process was a parody of all those others.

Hell, truth is, it would be nice if grand juries operated this way for all the rest of us, rather than for killer cops. It would be nice if grand juries for all the rest of us were there to protect us from an unjust system, from the State, from those in power. But that is not how it works. Quite the opposite.
This grand jury process was to insure an unjust, racist, white supremacist outcome.

CNN and friends keep forgetting to mention that the grand jury did not get to hear one bit of important testimony. Mike Brown did not get to appear before the grand jury. Mike Brown did not get to testify about what happened. MIke Brown is dead.

I have one more thing to add before I turn this over to Chauncey DeVega.  I picked this up from abagond:

Here is a(very partial) list of unarmed Blacks killed by police in the US. It is extremely incomplete. A complete list for just 2005 to 2012 would have at least 760 killings. I have only 6% of those. This list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Those in bold are linked to posts of their own:

2014: Victor White III (Iberia Parish, LA)
2014: Dante Parker (San Bernardino County, CA)
2014: Ezell Ford (Los Angeles, CA)
2014: Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO)
2014: Tyree Woodson (Baltimore, MD)
2014: John Crawford III (Beavercreek, OH)
2014: Eric Garner (New York, NY)
2014: Yvette Smith (Bastrop, TX)
2014: Jordan Baker (Houston, TX)
2013: Barrington Williams (New York, NY)
2013: Carlos Alcis (New York, NY)
2013: Deion Fludd (New York, NY)
2013: Jonathan Ferrell (Bradfield Farms, NC)
2013: Kimani Gray (New York, NY)
2013: Kyam Livingstone (New York, NY)
2013: Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr. (Austin, TX)
2013: Miriam Carey (Washington, DC)
2012: Chavis Carter (Jonesboro, AR)
2012: Dante Price (Dayton, OH)
2012: Duane Brown (New York, NY)
2012: Ervin Jefferson (Atlanta, GA)
2012: Jersey Green (Aurora, IL)
2012: Johnnnie Kamahi Warren (Dotham, AL)
2012: Justin Slipp (New Orleans, LA)
2012: Kendrec McDade (Pasadena, CA)
2012: Malissa Williams (Cleveland, OH)
2012: Nehemiah Dillard (Gainesville, FL)
2012: Ramarley Graham (New York, NY)
2012: Raymond Allen (Galveston, TX)
2012: Rekia Boyd (Chicago, IL)
2012: Reynaldo Cuevas (New York, NY)
2012: Robert Dumas Jr (Cleveland, OH)
2012: Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr (Orange County, CA)
2012: Shantel Davis (New York, NY)
2012: Sharmel Edwards (Las Vegas, NV)
2012: Shereese Francis (New York, NY)
2012: Tamon Robinson (New York, NY)
2012: Timothy Russell (Cleveland, OH)
2012: Wendell Allen (New Orleans, LA)
2011: Alonzo Ashley (Denver, CO)
2011: Jimmell Cannon (Chicago, IL)
2011: Kenneth Chamberlain (White Plains, NY)
2011: Kenneth Harding (San Francisco, CA)
2011: Raheim Brown (Oakland, CA)
2011: Reginald Doucet (Los Angeles, CA)
2010: Aaron Campbell (Portland, OR)
2010: Aiyana Jones (Detroit, MI)
2010: Danroy Henry (Thornwood, NY)
2010: Derrick Jones (Oakland, CA)
2010: Steven Eugene Washington (Los Angeles, CA)
2009: Kiwane Carrington (Champaign, IL)
2009: Oscar Grant (Oakland, CA)
2009: Shem Walker (New York, NY)
2009: Victor Steen (Pensacola, FL)
2008: Tarika Wilson (Lima, OH)
2007: DeAunta Terrel Farrow (West Memphis, AR)
2006: Sean Bell (New York, NY)
2005: Henry Glover (New Orleans, LA)
2005: James Brisette (New Orleans, LA)
2005: Ronald Madison (New Orleans, LA)
2004: Timothy Stansbury (New York, NY)
2003: Alberta Spruill (New York, NY)
2003: Orlando Barlow (Las Vegas, NV)
2003: Ousmane Zongo (New York, NY)
2001: Timothy Thomas (Cincinnati, OH)
2000: Earl Murray (Dellwood, MO)
2000: Malcolm Ferguson (New York, NY)
2000: Patrick Dorismond (New York, NY)
2000: Prince Jones (Fairfax County, VA)
2000: Ronald Beasley (Dellwood, MO)
1999: Amadou Diallo (New York, NY)
1994: Nicholas Heyward Jr. (New York, NY)
1992: Malice Green (Detroit, MI)
1985: Edmund Perry (New York, NY)
1984: Eleanor Bumpurs (New York, NY)
1983: Michael Stewart (New York, NY)
1981: Ron Settles (Signal Hill, CA)
1979: Eula Love (Los Angeles, CA)
1969: Mark Clark (Chicago, IL)
1969: Fred Hampton (Chicago, IL)
1964: James Powell (New York, NY)

I did not count people killed during protests, riots, massacres or executions. I did not count those killed by vigilantes or security guards.

Note that “Black”, “unarmed” and “killed” all have grey edges. That said, I apply some common sense to police accounts. Shooting yourself after being handcuffed counts as a police shooting. Weapons seen only by police count as Phantom Negro Weapons.

Do not draw any statistical conclusions from this list. It is heavy on New York and 2012, for example, simply because I know more about them.

The following is from We Are Respectable Negroes.

Shorter Darren Wilson Testimony: Michael Brown was a 

'Giant Beast Negro' That Had to Be Killed

If you have not yet read Darren Wilson's testimony to the Ferguson grand jury which decided that he would suffer no ill consequences for his decision to kill Michael Brown, please do so.

Wilson's description of the events on the day that he decided to shoot and kill an unarmed person cannot be adequately relayed to you by a second party.

The absurd, unfathomable, and fantastical story which Wilson spun out of the whole cloth in order to justify killing an unarmed black teenager combines the deepest and ugliest white supremacist stereotypes and fantasies about black folks' humanity such as the "negro fiend", "black beast", and "giant negro", with white racist paranoiac thinking, and dialogue from blaxploitation movies.

Darren Wilson's grand jury testimony purports to be an accurate description of his encounter with Michael Brown. In reality, it is closer to an amateurish summer stock theater production of the movie Birth of the Nation as performed by the KKK and/or Neo-Nazis.

After submitting a blank police report that provided no substantive information about his decision to kill Michael Brown, Darren Wilson was trained by attorneys for the police union (a common procedure when police kill civilians), and had many weeks to prepare his grand jury testimony.

During that time, Wilson was privy to the narrative and witness testimony that he would be confronted by in court.

Wilson was also aided by a prosecutor who was not at all interested in finding sufficient probable cause to proceed with a proper trial for the latter's decision to kill Michael Brown.

Ultimately, Darren Wilson was either 1) coached to recite a profoundly racist and bizarre version of his encounter with Michael Brown; 2) is deeply mired in the White Gaze and White Racial Frame to such a degree that he actually believes the white supremacist fictions he told the grand jury; or 3) some combination of the above.

The American legal system is not separate and apart from the social norms, cultures, values, and beliefs which produced it. Rather, the legal system (as well as schools, prisons, hospitals, etc.) is a crystallization of American society and its hierarchies of power.

Social scientists and others have produced volumes of research which have repeatedly demonstrated how the American legal system reinforces, perpetuates, and reflects disparate racial outcomes and white supremacy. For example, their findings include how black Americans face racial bias and unfair treatment at every level of the criminal justice system from initial police encounters to sentencing and parole decisions. Juries are influenced by implicit racial bias. Juries are also less likely to find black witnesses "credible" or "believable". And perhaps most troubling, white jurors can be subconsciously primed by images of apes and gorillas--this deeply racist association between animals and African-Americans in turn makes white jurors more likely to give black defendants the death penalty.

The empirical evidence for white racial bias in the criminal justice system is the context which produced the Ferguson grand jury's decision in favor of Darren Wilson. White supremacy makes Wilson's testimony an "intelligible" and "legitimate" type of truth claim as understood by the jurors, and the broader white society that supports Wilson's killing of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

White supremacy and white racial paranoiac thinking makes Wilson's following statements about Michael Brown believable and valid--as opposed to utterances and transparent lies that most certainly do not surpass the legal standard of "reasonable doubt".

Wilson told the grand jury the following:

1. Brown possessed super human negro strength as he effortlessly crushed the weak white man's flesh with one hand. "And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan...Hulk Hogan, that’s just how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm."

2. Brown is so strong and possessed of giant negro powers that he could attack Wilson with one hand while using the other to give his compatriot Dorian Johnson the box of cigars.

3. Even though he was shot several times by Darren Wilson, Brown let out a bestial grown like a feral monster, seemingly impervious to the threat of bullets and harm, he then charged at the police officer:

"So when he stopped, I stopped. And then he starts to turn around, I tell him to get on the ground, get on the ground. He turns, and when he looked at me, he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound and he starts, he turns and he’s coming back towards me. His first step is coming towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me."

"At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.

And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way."
4. Brown apparently speaks like a blaxploitation movie character: "He grabs my gun, says, 'You are too much of a pussy to shoot me.'"

5. Brown, like other negroes, was irrational and crazed. Wilson was in a state of terror: "The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up."

6. Brown also has melanin powered super speed. Because blacks are apparently natural athletes with overdeveloped leg muscles, Brown ran away from Wilson so fast that he left a trail of dust at his feet in a manner akin to that of a Looney Tunes cartoon character: "When I look up after that, I see him start to run and I see a cloud of dust behind him."

7. Because Brown is a giant negro he towered over Wilson: "He then grabs my door again and shuts my door. At that time is when I saw him coming into my vehicle. His head was higher than the top of my car. And I see him ducking and as he is ducking, his hands are up and he is coming in my vehicle."

Darren Wilson's testimony to the grand jury mates a cultural script that views black people as inherently criminal with recent empirical research that demonstrates how white folks actually do believe that black people are "super human" and a mysterious type of Other.

Wilson tale is also a reminder of how the near past of Jim and Jane Crow lives in the "post racial" present of the Age of Obama.

A black man is President of the United States of America.

But, a white cop can use language and white racial logic of 19th and early 20th century lynch law--with its fixation on "negro fiends", "imps of the inferno", and "noble" defenders of white society--to avoid going to trial for taking the life of an unarmed black teenager, while also being elevated to hero status (and financially enriched) by those sick and morally deranged white folks who want to live vicariously through the act of killing a black person.

Dred Scott is buried several miles away from where Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. Scott, in one of the most infamous United States Supreme Court decisions, was deemed to not have any rights that a white man is bound to respect. Almost 150 years later, Darren Wilson used the same white supremacist logic, and in doing so offered a version of events that would have been a perfect fit for a 19th century newspaper article about the lynching, disembowelment, and vivisection of a black victim of spectacular white violence.

"History is a moving train". Ferguson is a reminder of how those historical continuities of white supremacy as enacted through the American legal system (and other cultural and social institutions) are still killing and murdering black and brown folks with impunity.

Monday, November 24, 2014


By the time you read this you will probably know what the grand jury in Ferguson did or did not do.  As I write this we are waiting to see.  Nothing would surprise me.  If they do indict, we should all remember that still doesn't mean a hell of a lot.  What will mean something, never enough, but something will be the day this killer cop sees the jail door lock behind him.  Until then, nothing.  Even if that ever happens, which seems very doubtful to me, justice will, of course, not been done.  Mike Brown will still be dead.  White supremacy will still continue.  Cops will still be shooting down African Americans.  In other words, we are a long way from justice.

I want to add a few things I wrote in earlier posts on Ferguson that I think still are pertinent.  

...point out how old the story of Ferguson really is. White cop shoots young black man, film at ten.  Of course, the story didn't start in Lawrence or anywhere else in the started long before when Africans were kidnapped by white men, taken to America, and sold into slavery. It is a story also of resistance.  It is a story that has not ended.  It is a story that I am sick and tired of living and writing about.  It is a story that if I, a white man, is sick and tired of, I cannot even presume to imagine what African Americans are feeling about it today, yesterday, and beyond.

Any white people, regular folks, anti-racists, activists, communists, anarchists, whomever who are in Ferguson absolutely must act only under the leadership of the community, of African Americans. This is no place for some white, leftist agenda. I have no clue if there are people violating that principle, hopefully not, but if there are, that is shit. I have seen some things that make me wonder. I understand the desire for solidarity. I understand the desire to stand up. It is a good thing to stand together with the black community of Ferguson, but you must do so under the leadership of the people of the community. If you are a white person or organization with your own political agenda, then take it to the white community. African Americans do not need white people to explain any of this to them. African Americans understand this shit better than any white person of any political orientation.

That may sound like some sort of arrogant command, but it is merely meant as a statement of principle.  I can't command anyone to do anything.

Malcolm X can though, and he did.  In a 1964 speech at the founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity he said, 

Now, if white people want to help, they can help. But they can't join. They can help in the white community, but they can't join. We accept their help. They can form the White Friends of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and work in the white community on white people and change their attitude toward us.They don't ever need to come among us and change our attitude. We've had enough of them working around us trying to change our attitude. That's what got us all messed up. So we don't question their sincerity, we don't question their motives, we don't question their integrity. We just encourage them to use it somewhere else in the white community. If they can use all of this sincerity in the white community to make the white community act better toward us, then we'll say, "Those are good white folks." But they don't have to come around us, smiling at us and showing us all their teeth like white Uncle Toms, to try and make themselves acceptable to us. The White Friends of the Organization of Afro American Unity, let them work in the white community.

Want it put more succinctly,  Malcolm said in 1965 in an interview for the Young Socialist,

Whites who are sincere don’t accomplish anything by joining Negro organizations and making them integrated. Whites who are sincere should organize among themselves and figure out some strategy to break down prejudice that exists in white communities. This is where they can function more intelligently and more effectively, in the white community itself, and this has never been done.

Or how about this also from Malcolm,

 If a white man wants to be your ally, what does he think of John Brown? You know what John Brown did? He went to war. He was a white man who went to war against white people to help free the slaves.

If we want some white allies, we need the kind John Brown was, or we don't need any.
  I can't understand why so much space is spent calling on us to be peaceful, rather then pointing out that it is the police who come with guns, tear gas, pepper spray, horses and the like.  


I am not suggesting any type of tactic. I am not here advocating anything at all, but I feel sometimes that the apostle of non violence become more concerned with peace and less concerned with justice. I am posting below (again) a piece, "Three Days That Shook The World," which pertains to the uprising in LA in 1992 because I think it speaks to that and much more. As my friend Ajamu Nangwaya puts it,
"Why are the riot shamers so silent in the presence of acts of structural violence such as homelessness, inadequate housing, poor quality or inaccessible public education, limited or no access to healthcare, poverty, over-policing and unemployment that are imposed on Fanon's "wretched of the earth"?
"However, when the people demonstrate their contempt for their oppressive condition, the bleeding heart and other misguided voices are ready to call for non-violence or patience."
"These characters would have counseled non-violence during moments of armed rebellion against plantation slavery by enslaved Afrikans. We cannot steal from the plantation or the master. We are merely expropriating the expropriators and their enablers! "
"Is that an unconscionable or revolting behaviour by members of the unwashed masses?"
For me, I don't condemn Nat Turner and I don't condemn the people who have been involved in what white people and their media call riots, be they in Detroit or Watts in the 60s, LA in the 90s or near St. Louis in the last week.
It disturbs me when I read things like," the violence started following the shooting of Michael Brown." Was not the shooting of Michael Brown VIOLENCE? Is not the firing of wooden bullets, tear gas, and the like at a crowd of protesters VIOLENCE? Is not pointing automatic weapons from the top of an armored military vehicle VIOLENCE? Is not the long history of white supremacy, racism, police brutality VIOLENCE?

The following is just a little something from Dissident Scrapbook mostly aimed at whites.

Where Will You Stand When Wilson Walks and Black America Rises?

by Brian Dominick

In the very likely case that officer Darren Wilson gets away with murdering unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, one can guess how most white liberals will come down: sympathetic to Black America’s outrage, but eager to seek change exclusively through sanctioned channels. To please these liberals, resistance to the racist system would have to be strictly peaceful and orderly—petitioning legislators, voting, and “respectably” marching or vigiling. Liberals will argue against reciprocal hostility by black communities fed up with racist police forces and the system standing behind them.
Make no mistake: when authorities fail to convict or even prosecute Wilson, the state will be telling black people and other victims of systemic brutality that they just have to put up with institutionalized injustice. Failure to convict or even try Wilson will be the system saying to black folks, This is just how life is for you: live in a state of fear whites don’t have to. The message to police will be: There are some people you can just kill with impunity—in fact, your fellow racists will fundraise to reward you!
Liberals will join conservatives in counseling against “overreactions” to these messages from the system. They’ll suggest “peaceful” means of making change through a rigged political apparatus controlled by elites. For generations, mind you, there has been overwhelming rational reason to reform the system of police, courts, and prisons across the US, but if anything, we’ve lost ground. This incident and the tragic miscarriage of justice only adds one bit to the massive stack of compelling reasons for change. But actual reasons aren’t enough. The system hasn’t changed yet because it doesn’t respond to logic or facts or principles; it won’t change just because it would be overwhelmingly reasonable for it to change.
Black communities have long understood what is actually required to change the system: social movements and pressure. Being right has never gotten black people anything. Beingstrong has. Placating platitudes and promises of reform on the part of liberal politicians and pundits will not be enough. When Wilson walks, white supremacy will be inciting its own destruction.
Many activists of color will take steps, through a range of tactics, more or less in pursuit of one simple strategy: raise the social costs to White America until they exceed the perceived benefits of maintaining two distinct justice systems. Put differently, the objective is to make the two-tiered system of justice untenable by threatening whites’ very privilege in a wholesale fashion. Whites will only give up their slanted injustice system when it looks like hanging onto it may cost them far more.
The question for white people: what will we do at this critical juncture? Most white liberals will support suppression of the uprising, passively or vocally; out of fear, they will curate a narrative by which even brutal responses to righteously outraged black people will be justified for their own good. In so doing, they’ll actually be protecting the white privilege that keeps prisons and chalk outlines filled with black and brown bodies and lets white people walk away from police encounters, get off in court, and never fear trigger-happy stand-your-ground enthusiasts. A fairer justice system would inevitably expose and address contradictions in the rest of society, thereby challenging white supremacy and white privilege broadly. This frightens just about everyone benefiting from the current system, including white liberals.
The alternative is solidarity. This means doing what is asked of us by the movement to shake up the system. At its base, it means opposing repression and enabling the uprising to take its course. I can think of 100 ways the authentic leadership of this burgeoning movement might ask true white allies to participate, but it’s not for me to suggest them. My responsibility, for now, is to convince white people to listen to emerging black leaders at this amazing moment in history. When the shit hits the fan, will you be on the sidelines critiquing tactics, or will you find ways to actively support resistance, no longer able to stand living in a society with two different systems of “justice”?
If you’re white and you feel compelled to lash out: do it somewhere and in some way that does not lead to repercussions for people of color. By all means, find ways to distract authorities from brutal repression of black folks. Be tactically creative. But don’t do it to further your personal brand or ideology. Don’t tack on your preferred revolutionary message or a promotion of your organization. Don’t try to take media attention away from the black-led uprising or distort or distract its expression. Instead of your ideological flag or faction, redirect attention to messages like #JusticeForMikeBrown and #BlackLivesMatter.
The question, asked another way: When the chant is, “There ain’t no justice, just us”—will you be them, will you be you, or will you be us?
Brian Dominick is a street medic who has been participating in and analyzing social movements for 22 years. His hope in the power of protest was revitalized while supporting the Justice for Mike Brown actions on the ground in Ferguson last August. This commentary is the third in a series addressing how white activists can relate to the burgeoning movement.