By RIDA ALI, age 11
On August 9, 2014, police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. What exactly happened that day is told in many different ways. What has been confirmed is that Brown was shot multiple times by a police officer named Darren Wilson. A November 2014 grand jury decision not to indict (officially charge) Officer Wilson resulted in nationwide protests.
A few weeks later, in New York City, a similar grand jury decision was announced for a police chokehold that resulted in the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island in July 2014. In response to both grand jury decisions, tens of thousands of people gathered for the “Millions March” on December 13, 2014, in New York City and across the country to protest police killings of unarmed black and brown people.
Demonstrators marched with their hands raised, chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son,” read a sign held by Louis Head, Michael Brown’s stepfather. Protesters believe Wilson was not indicted because Michael Brown was black and the majority of the jury was white. This inspired their slogan, “black lives matter.”
Activists criticized mainstream news media for portraying the Ferguson protesters as reckless rioters, and claim that the majority of the protests were peaceful. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. called riots the “language of the unheard.” It is a way for people to say how they feel when they have no other way of being heard.
According to the organization Black Lives Matter, a black person is killed every 28 hours by police or vigilante law enforcement (like a security guard or neighborhood watch person). The organization is calling for justices for the victims of police violence and widespread reforms. According to Ashley Yates, a Ferguson activist, poet and artist, “The real root of it is racism in America.”