Shooting of Ferguson man repeats segregation history

By Dionna Green

Co-Editor in Chief

Today is going well! You met up with some friends earlier, went to tutoring and just finished shopping. “Wait, excuse me! You forgot…” Pop pop pop. That is the last thing you hear before the struggle comes, in which all is given to save your last breaths.

Gunned down and shot six times, African- American Michael Brown is dead. Sounds sadly familiar? That is because it is familiar, but what is not familiar is how traditionalists have reacted.

Around 12 p.m., Saturday, August 9, 2014, police officer, Darren Wilson, encountered two people, whom of which one included the deceased Brown near an apartment complex in Ferguson, Missouri.

Victim Michael Brown  Photo Credit: Daily Mail Online

Victim Michael Brown
Photo Credit: Daily Mail Online

One of the men allegedly pushed the officer into his squad car and a struggle began. One shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car. The struggle spilled onto the street and Brown is shot a plethora of times. Shell casings found at the scene show that the bullets are from the officer’s gun.

The shooting sparked unrest in Ferguson, due to racial tensions between the majority-black community and the majority-white city government and police.  Protests, vandalism, looting, and other forms of social unrest continued for more than a week and night curfews were imposed.

“As a society we are really separated, even though we don’t voice it. Everyone [races] is separated whether we want to believe it or not. Nowadays we don’t like to talk about things. We rather fight and argue about it, and all together, we are never together,” said Junior, Gerardo Enriquez.

 

Much of the commentary on the unrest in Ferguson has focused on the similarities and continuities with the famous battles of the civil-rights movement in the Deep South half a century ago. Descriptions of battles with a heavily armed and belligerent police force fabricated memories, brutal and racist attacks on peaceful protesters in places such as Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, by Commissioner Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor.

 A fellow North Springs High student (wish to remain unknown) hold up a sign with the notorious “hands up don’t shoot” saying. Photo Credit: Dionna Green

A fellow North Springs High student (wish to remain unknown) hold up a sign with the notorious “hands up don’t shoot” saying.
Photo Credit: Dionna Green

Racial conflict in the St Louis area dates back even further to weeks after US entry into the First World War. But it is still the fact that Brown’s death has very similar structure to the 1917 riot.

There have been suggestions that the shooting death of Michael Brown was a reverberation of racist policing familiar in the history of that city. Was Darren Wilson predestined to pull that trigger, hardened by centuries of bureaucrat handling of black lives as mediocre, unworthy of citizenship such as due process? What, if anything, can be learned from the history of racial violence in the city?

A striking continuity that has never changed as an example of other cities is that the St Louis metropolitan area, which takes in Ferguson, remains amid the most racially segregated places in the United States. Nationwide, segregation indexes have declined, but in cities like Ferguson, the decline has not been as fast.

Suburbs like Ferguson repeat the pattern of white-flight, creating a majority black population with a residual white local council and power structure.

“It’s horrible. The situation should have been dealt with. People say racism is no more, but it is still here. Some may some that racism doesn’t still exist, but it’s not really that it’s the fact that you can target someone and murder them like that,” said Junior, Selena Todd.

Majority of the decline occurred since the 1960s but has taken place in the last generation and has hit poor, black, single-parent families like Michael Brown’s.

These families continue to strive to make their lives better – Michael Brown’s mother struggled hard to get him through school but admitted the difficulties young black men faced graduating and going to college in present-day St Louis. African Americans of the early 1900s faced racial barriers and hostility, but had more optimism and more faith in their nation’s founding promises to offer freedom and democracy for all.

Facebook member, Shanelle Scott wears the notorious “hands up don’t shoot” phrase on a shirt in which of many has began to sell to promote awareness.  Photo Credit: Shanelle Scott

Facebook member, Shanelle Scott wears the notorious “hands up don’t shoot” phrase on a shirt in which of many has began to sell to promote awareness.
Photo Credit: Shanelle Scott

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