The grand jury’s decision to spare the police officer in the Ferguson case ignited mass protests, not in Ferguson alone, but across the United States. Residents and angry protests took to the streets as mobs of people began looting, torching cars and burning down local businesses. People all over the world began questioning why they would try to destroy their own town. Some of the people who either took part in the looting or supported the looters have taken the rare opportunity to speak out and explain their reasoning behind it.
Michelle Gross, President of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said while others may have been taken aback, the actions of these protestors did not surprise the government at all. They were ready for it. They sent security forces by the hundreds, armed as if they were headed to war, to oppose the angry crowds. This problem goes deeper than the natural eye and is deeply rooted in the problem the American society faces with police brutality.
She understands why so many people are outraged and believes, like many others, there is a reason not to trust the decision of the grand jury because of the process. Gross explained her reason as follows:
In a traditional court sitting you have two sides, if it is a criminal prosecution you have a defense attorney and you have a prosecutor. You’ve got two sides, it is a crucible in which there is an adversarial process and facts surface through that process. In this Ferguson situation you had one man who played both roles, and that particular individual, has had a long-standing relationship and reliance on the police in order to do his regular job as a prosecutor. There was not any way in the world he was going to truly be able to effect a fair process.
Gross added the case was designed to elicit the outcome it received. Many said this would be the outcome and were not shocked. Having one person stand in for both the prosecution and defense is not correct and not really possible. So, yes they were outraged but not surprised.
Residents from the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson spoke in an exclusive interview with NewsOne on why Ferguson’s business district was hit so hard after the decision was made not to indict Wilson. Although NewsOne does not condone the actions of the enraged citizens of this community, they thought it is still important to understand what would cause this level of outrage in order to bring change, not only in Ferguson, but in other communities facing like circumstances.
One young man known as “OG Bobby Johnson” said he supports looting of businesses and called the angry looters’ actions “the real Black Friday.” Another resident, Tommy Keely, cousin of Michael Brown’s friend who was with him right before he was killed, said he does not necessarily support the looting, but is not saying anybody was wrong for doing it either.
Keely said they could not do anything about the grand jury’s decision so “it is what it is” and his city did what they had to do. He added, “It is not over.” The 25-year-old said he threw a bottle at the head of a police officer. He wanted to shoot one but is not condoning violence so he did not. Keely felt the protesters’ actions in Ferguson were valid because they are asking them to abide by laws that law makers and those who enforce those laws do not even follow. He added:
They do us like this every day. This did not just start with Mike and it is probably not going to stop.
As it relates to the businesses Keely asked why they should care about them. They are taking money from their pockets; they do not bring any money to them. None of them work in any of those stores and they are not going to hire any of them anyway, said Keely. He does not understand what the big deal is when all of the stores have insurance. What the world is calling destruction is really just remodeling; by the end of 2015 their city is going to look like another St. Louis suburb named Clayton, according to Keely. The businesses are about to get paid double so they are not hurting.
There is also great resentment over the conditions that have left many in the community such as Keely feeling marginalized, alienated and left out of the economic progress in America. He said this country allows others from the outside to come and give $10,000 grants to get their business started. Why are they given preferential treatment when “his” people built this country on their backs and cannot even get a $10 loan? The young man said, “Foreigners come here and buy guns and dope and then are rewarded with money.”
Keely said the people of Ferguson are frustrated and angry by the treatment they receive on a regular basis. As it stands, they did not view the looting as destroying their city when the city does not care for or support them.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)