Living while Black continues to be difficult for men and women of color in the United States. However, despite the below freezing temperatures demonstrations continue in the United States and around the world in response to the unfair and racist verdict of “not indictment” of White cop Darren Wilson for the shooting of the unarmed teen Michael Brown who is Black. Wilson shot the unarmed teenager at least 12 times while his hands where in the air in the surrender position and his head down. One bullet struck Brown directly in the top of the head.
In solidarity for the unarmed 18-year-old’s murder demonstrations were held every day in Ferguson, Missouri since Michael Brown was murdered by Wilson in August. After the verdict, demonstrations in massive numbers were held in Ferguson as well as at least 200 other places around the world including New York, Washington D. C., Oakland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London England, Canada, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City Missouri, San Francisco, Portland and many other cities and towns. Protestors of all races, nationalities, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, religions and ages felt the hurt and pain of the shooting of the unarmed teen and the many, many Black youth, men and women who have men killed by police and treated unfairly in the name of the law.
Some marched with their hands in the air chanting Hands Up Don’t Shoot. Other demonstrators laid silently on the grown as Michael Brown’s body was left to fester under the blazing August sun for 4 hours after being shot 12 times by Wilson. CNN reported that inmates joined in the demonstration from their prison cells in Boston. In London England the protest of solidarity began in front of the U. S. Embassy before moving throughout the city. Seattle High School students walked out of school to protest the unfairness of the verdict.
The feelings of hopelessness and frustration by some protestors against the violent and unequal treatment by police resulted in fire setting and turning over of police cars. The hate for Michael Brown and his family was evident when anti-protestors burned down Michael Brown’s father’s church. And still other anti-protestors ran over protesters with their cars causing bodily injuries.
However, those in solidarity for Michael Brown were not deterred. Some followed in the footsteps of the powerful civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and blocked the bridges as Dr. King and the protesters did on the Pettus Bridge during the Civil Rights protest march from Selma to Alabama in 1965. In Philadelphia the major Interstate I95 was blocked by protestors, several bridges in New York were shut down, and in Massachusetts, Denver and other places streets and bridges where shut down by protestors.
Fifty years later we are still marching and protesting for equality, civil rights, justice and hope. Many protestors have lost hope for equality or fairness for people of color, especially a Black male.
In one moving support of hope in Philadelphia, the Unitarian Universalist Church held a peace and justice vigil for Michael Brown on the day after the tragic verdict. Individuals of all races and ages took part in the demonstration and vigil outside with candles, songs, poems and signs saying We Stand on the Side of Peace, Black Lives Matter, Honk for Justice for Michael Brown. The group then filed inside the church to begin the healing. They sang songs, prayed for peace, recited poems for equality and justice, and discussed their fears, frustrations and hopes.
Sadly, running down the length of the sanctuary was a banner with the names of a thousand individuals killed by police officers. Sorrowfully, on the day before the justice vigil for Michael Brown another child’s name was added, hand-written at the beginning of the long list of those killed by police was 12-year-old Tamar Rice who was shot and killed by two Cleveland police officers while he was sitting in a swing playing with a toy gun.