Our Tears for Mike Brown (and Many Others) are Not in Vain

Mike BrownI am grieving.

I am grieving the loss of Mike Brown and countless other Black men and women who have lost their lives to police violence.

By now, we all know the story. On August 9th, Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri.

In the days after his death, people from around the country descended on Ferguson to join in the protests and demonstrations to call for the name of Mike Brown’s killer and bring his death to justice.

The media called Mike Brown a “thug” and “no angel”.

They called peaceful protesters criminals and looters. Yes, the protesters were angry, but isn’t that justified? A boy died and they wanted answers. When authorities finally did reveal the officer’s name, there was no arrest.

One hundred and seven days later, a Grand Jury finally came to a decision whether or not to indict Darren Wilson, Mike Brown’s killer. Ultimately they decided no charge was warranted, and Wilson would not stand trial in Brown’s death.

So where to we go from here?

Last month, Londrelle Hall and Ray Mills, from Atlanta did a “run for justice” and ran from Atlanta to Ferguson. At the end of their 20 day journey, as they approached Mike Brown’s memorial, the men kneeled and cried.

Their unique form of protest, and subsequent tears, reminded me that all the marches, speeches, sit-ins, twitter hashtags, are not just another hip cause at the top of your Facebook feed.

Over-policing of black communities has been an epidemic for the past century.

We are a community grieving Mike Brown’s life, and grieving the other lives lost. I could recite the names of the other Black men killed by police like a litany.

Mothers in North Carolina are no stranger to this type of grief — overpolicing and the death of their sons. In January of this year, a young man named Jesus Huerta died in Durham. The police say he “shot himself in the head”, but he was handcuffed in the back of the police car at the time of the shooting.

Last year, Jonathon Ferrell, former FAMU football player, was shot in Charlotte while seeking help after he got into a car accident. The officer responded to a “breaking and entering” call when Ferrell knocked on someone’s door for help. Ferrell was shot by the police when they arrived at the neighbor’s property.

The photo I used for today’s article is a photo of Mike Brown’s father screaming at the loss of his son. I see his face and I want to scream along with him.

I got my chance a week ago in Raleigh. A sizable group of activists gathered to grieve the verdict of the grand jury and emphasize that our lives matter.

Erin Byrd spoke about the lives of her two sons. She wants to be able to let her sons roam freely, but sadly cannot.

“I don’t want to send my son to the mall and have to text him six times to make sure he’s ok.”

That’s the world Erin Byrd and her sons live in.

I am tired. Tired of the funerals, tired of the crying mothers on the news, and tired of their killers going free.

I know I’m not the only one. The Ferguson community showed their anger by rioting after the grand jury’s decision was announced last Monday. But the riots only represent a part of the demonstrations, have been many peaceful protests, for example several die-ins throughout the city and the country. Activists also encouraged people to boycott retailers on Black Friday to show that our dollars matter.

As long as this battle has been going on, as long as we have been tired, we haven’t stopped.

I’m glad we continue to turn our collective grief into action.




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