Another unarmed Black boy, Vonderrit Myers Jr., 18, was shot dead on Wednesday by an off-duty cop in St. Louis, adding fuel to the fire that’s been burning in Missouri since Mike Brown’s untimely death in Ferguson — also at the hands of a police officer. Many residents in Missouri and beyond are still protesting in support of Brown, and the demonstrations are swelling with protestors demanding justice for Myers Jr. and even more Black men who have been killed in recent months including Kajieme Powell and John Crawford Jr..
If the images of police in riot gear standing off with passionate citizens haven’t been enough in recents months, reports are already brewing that protests for Myers’ death have caused a clash between officers and citizens for the past two nights in a row following his death. More than 400 protestors covered several St. Louis city blocks earlier this week, shouting and chanting at a sea of police officers who were all heavily suited in riot gear, looking more like the enemy than an ally. Reports claim that the protesters grew “increasingly chaotic” after police pushed towards screaming protesters and pepper-sprayed them when the crowd refused to disperse.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told local television station Fox 2 that at one point during the tense protest, someone behind the massive crowd threw a knife that struck an officer’s body vest at the shoulder. Dotson also claims businesses and residences near the protest had been damaged and that U.S. flags were burned and an officer suffered minor injuries. He also claims that there was a gun recovered at the scene. It should be noted that this is the same officer who says that Myers’ shooting isn’t “another Ferguson,” when, considering the known facts, many argue it is. Police said Myers fired multiple times at the officer (even though witnesses claimed he was only holding a sandwich) before the officer returned 17 shots and fatally wounded him. Myers was allegedly unarmed the same way that Mike Brown was. There are claims that there was a physical struggle between Myers and the officer who shot him, the same way Mike Brown’s shooter, Officer Darren Wilson, claimed there was between himself and the deceased teen.
While family, friends, activists and supporters are still very upset as Brown’s killer has still not been arrested or charged with anything. The police department has not identify the 32-year-old officer who shot Myers. These officers may never see the inside of a jail cell.
Protest organizers said they are planning only peaceful activities, but fear that Wednesday’s killing of the black teen might trigger violent outbursts. “We never advocate violence … But I do know that people were angry last night and they will be out this weekend,” said Tory Russell, a leader of Hands Up United. “I don’t know what they are going to do.”
It’s always most convenient to say that the people who are peacefully gathering to show their solidarity around police brutality are angry, chaotic or in need of punishment…especially when those people happen to be Black. It creates a faux validation that the police’s violent actions towards these civilians are justified. But yes, people are angry. If we keep seeing the same story over and over again about a Black man, woman, child or otherwise being murdered at the hands of those who vow to protect and serve us, you can guarantee that anger will be a reaction!
At least 6,000 have registered on an organizing website for the “weekend of resistance” events in and around Ferguson, which kick off today, October 10th with a “Justice Now” march to the office of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Organizers said they are also planning to create a “memory altar” to victims of police violence and to hold a candlelight march carrying a coffin to the Ferguson Police Department.
Do you think the protest efforts following these unjust deaths are helping? Sound off in the comments below.
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