By Louise Michel
Dec 3, 2014
"A riot is the language of the unheard." - MLK
A specter is haunting New York City, the Specter of Ferguson.
Police impunity has left us no choice but to revolt! The grand jury in Staten Island refused to indict an officer of the law for a cold blooded murder! Ferguson lit the fire and now it's time to fan the flames of discontent...
Virtually every major news outlet, member of the black liberal establishment, and authority figure in government has been stressing the importance of peaceful, nonviolent protest to the killing of Mike Brown. They say that rioting is counterproductive and accomplishes nothing. They are wrong. Proof of this can be seen in the local and international response to the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in NYC.
- July 27, 2014, in Staten Island, New York, Eric Garner was murdered by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo's vicious chokehold for selling untaxed cigarettes. His murder was caught on camera by a brave bystander by the name of Ramsey Orta and uploaded for the world to see. Eric Garner's murder gained some national news in the United States and outcry from various civil rights organizations but soon after fell out of the 24 hour news cycle. Garner's death became just another black man brutally killed with impunity by law enforcement despite the incontrovertible video evidence, including Mr. Garner himself pleading, "I can't breath, I can't breathe" numerous times before he senselessly died. His death was on the verge of being shelved in the rolodex of "another black man murdered by the cops." Then Ferguson happened. People began to stand up to injustice by doing something other than just march. They began to defy curfews, expose the militarism of the police-industrial complex, and make history rather than be shaped by it.
- August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, Mike Brown is gunned down and killed by officer Darren Willson. The shooting took place not because Brown robbed a helpless person at gunpoint but because he was stopped for jaywalking! As most people in this country now know, Darren Wilson was acquitted by a grand jury that was led by a law enforcement friendly prosecutor, Robert McCulloch. Riots broke out in Ferguson after Mike Brown's death, as well as when the announcement was made that there would be no indictment of Darren Wilson. These riots sparked protests and mobilizations across the country and spearheaded a 21st century discussion of institutionalized racism, militarism of communities, policy brutality and systemic impunity in the age of Obama.
What did the peaceful protests that took place against the death of Eric Garner accomplish other than a few news pieces and the same old condemnation by the black liberal establishment led by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Not many people in this country even heard of Eric Garner before Mike Brown's death. In the end the few days of direct action in Ferguson created more attention and were more effective than the peaceful protest marches on behalf of Eric Garner.
Would massive, nationwide action to prevent police impunity have taken place sooner if people revolted after the deaths of Ramarley Graham? Or Sean Bell? Or Amadou Diallo Or Malcolm Ferguson? One thing is true: If the authorities were terrified that every time they wontonly killed an unarmed black man in this country that the masses would revolt the way they did in Ferguson or L.A. after Rodney King they would think twice about murdering people with impunity. They would be exactly what we demand, accountable for their actions.
In Ferguson they torched cars and businesses, resisted the police by throwing their tear gas canisters back at them, refused to disperse and courageously made their voices heard to the world on their own terms and no one else's. And their resistance instantly gained international attention. From France to Russia to China to Iran, Ferguson was front page news around the world and it wasn't because people peacefully marched like they did in Staten Island. No, it was because they employed the tactics of direct action to bring attention to the fact that a unarmed black teenager was killed by a white officer and nothing was done about it.
The monopoly of violence that the state possesses should never go unchallenged, particularly when a great injustice has taken place. There is nothing wrong with peaceful marches and nonviolent civil disobedience in fact they are necessary, but we must not be fall into the false narrative that direct action and violence as it is defined by the state is always wrong.
See you in the streets!