Partisan №55
The execution of Michael Brown started a prairie fire

One, Two, Many Fergusons

The execution of Michael Brown in early August in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, which sparked a month-long rebellion, again proves that the US remains a white racist state. An 18 year-old New Afrikan, Michael Brown was shot multiple times by a Ferguson cop before being executed with a shot to the head. In response the predominantly black Ferguson community, policed by predominantly white cops, rebelled. All of the contradictions of US racism were again laid bare as the state rushed in to violently contain the revolt.

People were beaten, dogs were unleashed, tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, journalists and community representatives were detained without evidence, organizers were called “outside agitators” with the same anti-communist tone that was employed during the cold war and civil rights era, the masses were called “animals” and other racist slurs by the pigs… Even a charity drive was organized for Darren Wilson—the cop who executed Brown and whose identity was kept secret for a whole week before being revealed—bizarrely painted as a victim: a single father with a kid who can’t afford a lawyer.

As usual, the state is desperate to justify its repression, even as it bludgeons an angry community in revolt, so as to paint its victims and those who rebel against its order as deviant. The claim that the police exist to protect the masses from themselves is being anxiously repeated by all of the bourgeois politicians, reactionaries, and bleeding heart liberals. The people are only revolting because of “outside agitators” we are told, as long time organizer Carl Dix and others are rounded up and detained, despite the fact that the state response to the revolt also came from “outside” the community.

Darren Wilson was a good guy who made a mistake, an “officer friendly” with an otherwise “clean record,” as if shooting an eighteen year old kid multiple times and then intentionally putting a bullet in his skull is a simple mistake. And now, true to past practice, the character assassination of Michael Brown has begun: he was a criminal, he was questioning authority, he was on drugs—anything that makes him less of a victim, deserving of execution, is being promoted.

But the rebellion that began in Ferguson, spread to the heart of St. Louis, and was echoed across the country is not simply about Brown’s death, although this was the spark that set off the powder keg of revolt. Anger amongst these revolting masses because of a long history of white racism, poverty, and national oppression was present before the shooting and will remain after this round of rebellions dwindle.

Hence, when the liberal media latches onto the pleas of Brown’s father for the rebellions to stop on the day of his son’s funeral they either fail to understand what is at stake or are intentionally smearing a people in rebellion—a people suddenly depicted as more insensitive than the state and its child-killers because they are not rebelling in a “respectful” manner. It’s not just about Brown and his family: the rebellion is a reaction to the particular structure of US capitalism and its history as a slave-owning settler state. There are thousands of anonymous Browns, murdered in less spectacular ways, just as there were thousands of Trayvon Martins, Emmet Tills, and others. Then there was New Orleans, a site of multiple executions and forced relocations of New Afrikan families, eclipsed by the spectacle of Obama’s election.

The history of oppression that is the root cause of these rebellions, sparked each time the state callously executes a teenager and defends this execution with further repression, stretches back to the birth of US capitalism. Neither the oppression nor the rebellions will end until this state is overthrown.

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