A march in the memory of Michael Brown Jr. was held in Ferguson on Saturday to mark one year since his death after being shot by a police officer, which sparked national outrage and fierce protests in the suburbs in its wake.
The march, attended by dozens of people, started from the Brown’s Canfield Green Apartments home and went on to the Normandy High School from which Michael Brown Jr. had recently graduated, before being shot by local police officer Darren Wilson on 9 August 2014. Spearheading the march was the Brown family, wearing special T-Shirts with Brown Jr.’s face and the inscription “Chosen 4 Change”.
The encounter, of which details still remain unclear, was followed by massive rioting in a couple of occasion throughout the St. Louis suburb, as many considered that the shooting was racially motivated – as Wilson was white and Brown Jr. was black. Wilson has not been indicted by the St. Louis County grand jury and was also cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice of any civil right violation charges, but a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer is still pending.
The Ferguson shooting sparked a nationwide debate on racially-directed police abuse, with the #BlackLivesMatter campaign starting in its aftermath. Despite the fact that Wilson escaped state and federal charges, its influence can be seen in subtle changes in local law enforcement policy – with the issue of street searches targeting mainly black individuals being taken head on by a recent agreement between the Chicago Police Department and the American Civil Liberties Union, for example.
“A year later, all I can say is that Mike Brown, his death, his murder, have given me a new sense of purpose in life and that is to always be a truth teller and to stay true to why I came out on August 9th” said Johnetta Elzie, one of the leaders of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The killing also indirectly cause change in Ferguson administration itself. The local police chief and a judge both resigned as a Justice Department report claimed that the city’s law enforcement sustained a pattern of using unreasonable force or violence on a racial bias; the two hired in their place were black.
Yet there is still a long way to go in changing law enforcement mentality. Recently, one of the largest police-supporting pages on Facebook posted a mock memorial of Michael Brown Jr., featuring a sarcasting and insulting rhyme directed towards him and his supporters. But one thing’s for sure – the spotlights are fully onto police brutality right now, as a decades-old practice seems to finally come under its much needed scrutiny.
Image Source: stltoday.com