THE RACIAL DIVIDE: Ferguson October Debrief and Questions About Vonderrit Myers Unanswered

_MoreFergusonOctoberAP17OpEd-top

IMAGE SOURCE: EqualVoiceforFamilies.org

By Anita Stewart 

THE MISSION: 

This weekend set off a 4-day stretch of Civil Disobedience and peaceful Direct Actions in Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri. Events and Protests were planned throughout the weekend. Things were heated and very emotional after another murder of a black male teenager by law enforcement during the afternoon on Wednesday, October 8th in St. Louis. His name was Vonderrit Myers and he was 18 years old. There has still been no accountability for the murder of Michael Brown and many expect more of the same for Myers.

Corporate media reported that Ferguson October was planned as a response to the murder of Myers, but this is not true. This past weekend’s Ferguson October was comprised of solidarity actions and involved many different peace, social justice and human rights groups from across the country and the weekend was planned well in advance.

This past weekend there were concerts, speakers, civil disobedience teach-ins and protests on the streets night and day. Thousands came to take part. Forty nine people were arrested during civil disobedience actions.

ARRESTS AND RETALIATIONS

On Monday, Columbus Day, Oct 13, clergy and religious leaders lined up to face the police presence in the pouring rain, kneeling, singing spirituals, chanting and with protestors speaking directly to the police, trying to appeal to their humanity. Arrests of the clergy began immediately. Dr. Cornel West, a well known writer, scholar, educator and Civil Rights advocate was also arrested. More protestors were arrested later outside of the neighborhood Wal-Mart. Since Michael Brown’s murder, 22 journalists have been arrested. Bassam Masri, one of the most vocal and tenacious of the Livestreamers was arrested outside of the Wal-Mart on Monday night and once released spoke about how the police tried to recruit him to “snitch” on the protest organizers.

In the South St. Louis and Ferguson neighborhoods, retaliatory measures are being taken against the protest organizers. The organizers of these solidarity actions have said that they are being deliberately singled out and targeted for tickets; such as traffic violations, jaywalking, etc., as many as 3 or more times, sometimes 3 or 4 people being targeted within one household. People are also losing their jobs when their bosses are being called by unknown entities who describe the employee’s off duty activities during the direct actions on the streets.

WHAT IS TRUTH?

Stories concerning the murder of Vonderrit Myers have been more than conflicting. Some corporate media outlets have reported that Myers was armed and shot at the off duty police officer who still has remained unnamed. The police officer stated that he had stopped Myers and his two friends to do a “check.” This action appears just a little too close to the request of “your papers, please,” and definitely racial profiling and violating citizens’ civil rights. Then the story changed and the police officer said that Myers and two other young men were running from him.

So far, the other two young men with Myers have not surfaced to give their versions and their eye-witness accounts of the murder. If they are afraid of reprisals, that could be why they don’t want to get involved by speaking to corporate media or making official statements. And the official story did make a point of noting that this police officer was off-duty and moonlighting for a company when he murdered Myers. Then the story changed again and all of a sudden Myers was jumping out of the bushes to fire on the police officer. (There are no bushes at the scene).

The latest reports state that Myers had gunpowder residue on his hands, in his pockets and in the waistband of his pants. Eyewitnesses and family members said he had just bought a sandwich at a local store while with his friends and he was holding the sandwich when he was shot. A video has surfaced showing Myers buying the sandwich at a local convenience store. But as we saw with Mike Brown, when police accountability and investigations are being conducted in secret, the police get to create the playbook and then the narrative that we hear through corporate media. This usually happens several days to a week after the murders as we saw with the video that surfaced about Mike Brown committing a strong armed robbery. That particular narrative was debunked. But now it appears that the same modus operandi is being conducted with the video of Myers buying the sandwich and social media pictures of him in poses with several guns. Re-create the victim’s image as a “thug” or “gangster” even though he was shot 17 or 18 times by the police officer. Corporate media has not mentioned any evidence (such as slugs) from the gun Myers was supposed to be holding or firing.

After reviewing the videos for this story, I saw local Law Enforcement came out in riot gear during every direct action this past weekend. They must identify themselves per the Department of Justice and wear name tags but the videographers mentioned and pointed out the police that had disobeyed this official mandate.

REFERENCES:

Letter from the Department of Justice

Livestream by Alicia Speri with Vice News

Livestream by Bassam Masri

Bassam Masri’s Arrest on Electronic Intifada

Speech by State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal

Ferguson October: A Movement Goes on Offense

The Clergy singing in the rain on Columbus Day, Oct 13, 2014

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