“This moment is consecrated in blood,” a representative from the Organization for Black Struggle said before a crowd of 3,000 in downtown St. Louis last weekend. It was at a rally following the “Justice For All” national march—the centerpiece of “Ferguson October,” a four-day “weekend” of organized resistance and protest in the wake of the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department. In attendance was a diverse assembly of locals as well as people from across the country—people of all ages, races, and political orientations.
Reminding the crowd of the historical continuity present in the spectacle of black pain in America, the speaker went on: “If this moment is to become a movement…we have to make the cost of black life too high for them to take it.” Many speakers invoked legacies of organized struggle, as well as historical connections to slavery. The Dred Scott case, which upheld the legal status of slaves as chattel, was decided at the Old Courthouse just a stone’s throw from where the rally was being held.
One of the most striking aspects of the weekend was the way in which organizers drew connections between various social justice struggles—from the movement to end the occupation of Palestine to the #FightFor15 fast food workers campaign—and the fight for justice for Mike Brown. Representatives from these movements and others were invited to attend and speak about the relationships between these struggles and the fight against police brutality, the criminalization of black youth and white supremacy. The result was an impressive display of solidarity.
“When [Suhad Khatib] was talking about Palestine and the connections, and how as a Palestinian she needs to stand up to oppose the oppression of people of color in this country, so many people were cheering who I feel like would not have had awareness of the issue before. It’s been really great to see people being able to make these connections between different forms of oppression,” volunteer and St. Louis public school teacher Leah Patriarco explained to me.
After the rally, marchers carried a glass coffin to the St. Louis Police Department headquarters. Its cracked exterior reflected a distorted picture of the march. On the way, organizers stopped the march in the middle of the street to hold silence for four minutes and thirty seconds, symbolizing the amount of time Mike Brown’s body lay on the ground outside after he was gunned down.
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It has been just over two months since Michael Brown’s death on August 9. In the weeks since, three other black men have been killed by police in St. Louis—including 18 year old Vonderrit Myers Jr. who was shot either holding a sandwich or a gun, depending on who you ask. Meanwhile, Darren Wilson remains on the Ferguson Police Department’s payroll and a Grand Jury has yet to hand down an indictment.