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An Open Letter From Ferguson Protestors and Allies (10.7.



Here in Ferguson, our community has come to know terror on American soil.
A public slaying so gruesome it harkened images of the lynchings from the most heinous moments in
history, for young and old to see.
Michaels bloodied, lifeless body, left to lay in the street for more than 4 hours, a glaring reminder of the
value of black life.
Peaceful protestors, attacked by waves of gas and bullets meant only for war.
Daily, violent reminders that our black skin renders us unsafe in our own community.
No human, no American citizen, no child could look upon this scene and not unequivocally know:
enough is enough.
Civil disobedience is as American as baseball and apple pie. It was the tool of founders who changed
the course of history in freeing America from Britains tyranny. Susan B. Anthony and hundreds of
others employed the same tactic to secure women democratic access to the ballot box.
Dr. King called upon this same tradition, shifting institutions and people in order to win the protections
enumerated in our founding for African Americans and the poor.
Now, nearly 50 years later, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, desegregation, and the election of
the first Black president, we find ourselves once again defending the value of black life and calling once
again for a change in people and institutions to ensure the freedom of future generations right here in
But instead of the respect accorded those historical figures, we are reviled. Instead of the cloak of
democracy protecting our participation, we, a diverse collective of peaceful protestors and allies, have
repeatedly suffered and witnessed the violation of those same freedoms we won by way of this same
tried-and-true American tradition.
60 days ago, unarmed, hands-up in surrender, Michael Brown, Jr. was gunned down by Darren Wilson.
Darren Wilson is still free. Michael Brown, Jr. is still gone.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, some have shown more outrage at the interruption of traffic and a
night at the symphony or a baseball game than they have for the interruption of an innocent life that
will now and forever go unlived, unfulfilled.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, scores of people were rendered prisoners in their own homes. Unable
to report to work, feed their children, attend school, access basic needs or utilize public transportation,
some residents are now unemployed. We are all citizens deeply traumatized by the slaying of a young
life and the horror that followed. The police and the politicians of Ferguson, of St. Louis, of Missouri: all
must take account of this trauma and must make amends.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, a police departments unpreparedness quickly became our most
dangerous nightmare. Night after night, hails of rubber bullets and tear gas were released on innocent,
An Open Letter From Ferguson Protestors and Allies (10.7.14)


peaceful people, exercising our right to demand justice for Mike through free assembly. Over 200
baseless arrests some now ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge have attempted to silence our
freedoms of speech and assembly. Unfounded church raids have assaulted our freedom of religion and
have sullied sacred space. We do not yet know the physical and psychological toll this abuse will take on
us, on the children and elderly who accompanied us by their own volition, searching for freedom. We
demanded respect and were met with attack; we searched for justice and were met with contempt.
But in the aftermath of Mikes death, the democratic spirit of self-determination and dedication to those
certain unalienable rights for all human beings remains unbroken. Gaza stands with Ferguson. Hong
Kong learned from Ferguson. And this weekend, for the second time, hundreds of Americans from
every life experience will come to walk in solidarity with Ferguson. We have sought human dignity in
the companionship of the global community, and they have answered the call.
During a holiday weekend named for one of the most atrocious genocidal figures in American history,
we will reclaim our collective voice and live fully as democratic citizens who believe all lives matter.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, we will continue to push for the dismantling of systems founded on
the racial targeting of American citizens, systemic denial of basic health care, quality education, and
other essential community services, and the culture of police brutality that has invaded the institutions
meant to serve and protect. We will not bow to those who demand that we happily accept order with
no offering of justice. We will demand equal justice under the law.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, we will continue to be led by our young, who most brutally feel the
sting of the devaluation of their lives by the systemic and structural racism, but who, in their
determined resilience, will continue to show us what democracy looks like. And we welcome people of
all ages to help build a better future, together.
In the aftermath of Mikes death, we will continue to be intentionally peaceful but will continue to
unapologetically, forcefully proclaim that our lives matter, and we will be treated as such.
As you stand with us this weekend and in the long days and months ahead, we need your solidarity.
Ferguson is a movement led by the people who live here. We need you to simply be here, peacefully
standing shoulder to shoulder with us, respecting the trauma we have faced but determined to fight
for freedom along with us.
And your community needs you to take what you experience here back to your homes, to fight to
build that beautiful day when there will not be a next Mike Brown. We need you for that day. For
Mike Brown. For the protestors. For the people who matter everywhere.