There were protest nationwide over the Thanksgiving weekend. Protesters shut down malls in St. Louis and through out the country for Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year and official kickoff for the Christmas shopping season. College students from Clark Atlanta who marched from Clark Atlanta to The CNN Center in Atlanta protesting peacefully the day after the grand jury decision, to Texas A&M, to Morgan State in Maryland, Wheaton College, to the Die-In for Mike Brown at Harvard Law School, walkout at Smith College in Northampton, MA just to name a few, all showing solidary with Ferguson, Mo.
Even five St. Louis Rams players Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook and Chris Givens came out the tunnel in the beginning of their home game against the Oakland Raiders with the national ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ gesture in protest of Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson not being indicted by the grand jury for shooting and killing unarmed Ferguson teen, Mike Brown. The powerful thing of the Rams players protesting is it took place just before a national televised NFL game, that many watched to escape from all the news coverage. Even during a football game, Mike Brown’s murder was being discussed and led to every sportscaster and reporter talking about it for the next few days on shows, publications and networks you wouldn’t expect to hear about Mike Brown and Ferguson.
But this wasn’t just a one time thing, this is the beginning of a modern-day movement. Monday Dec 1st demonstrators walked out of their schools, homes and office buildings to participate in a nationwide demonstration honoring Michael Brown and standing in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri at 1PM Eastern Time. The Huffington Post reported that more than 80 cities, 30 states and 40 college campuses around the country were expected to participate. Students, parents, teachers and workers gathered at various locations at the specified time, which signified the time Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Students from Vanderbilt University, University of Missouri St-Louis, The University of Illinois at Chicago and Roosevelt University were just some of the schools nationwide who participated in the Walk-Out.
In New York City, protesters walked along streets and through Union Square as they chanted “NYPD, KKK, how many kids have you killed today?” Meanwhile, across the country, demonstrators gathered outside a LAPD station in South Central Los Angeles, near the location where Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man, was fatally shot by police officers the same night a grand jury announced its decision.
In Illinois, protesters met on various college campuses throughout the state as well as in Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago. In Washington D.C., protesters gathered outside of the Department of Justice building and staged a “die-in” for four and a half minutes, symbolizing the four-and-a-half hours Brown’s body lay in the street.
But like the historical Montgomery Bus Boycott of the sixties, this is only effective if everyone continues to stay dedicated, for this to be a movement that causes real-time change.
Frank Sha Francois, a NYC activist for justice peace and equality for all, tells Black Westchester, “This is all a good start,” talking about the national protest over the past few days including the Rams actions. For all of these individuals, students and civil groups actions not to be in vain, Francois says he would like to see, “New laws with independent oversight to deter police from abusing citizens rights. We need an independent all civilian elected Civilian Complaint review board. Those cops who violate their oath, commit crimes, abuse their authority, and kill innocent people are no better than the criminals they’re suppose to protect us from.”
All of the protest even led to President Obama holding a day of meetings with local government and law enforcement officials from across the country in part to issuing new rules for military-style equipment and seeking more cameras to be worn by law enforcement officers. “This is not a problem simply of Ferguson, Missouri,” Obama said. “This is a problem that is national.”
The president announced a new task force to study best police practices, as well as tighter controls on federal money that local law enforcement agencies use to buy military-style equipment.
The goal, Obama said, is “to make sure that we’re not building a militarized culture inside our local law enforcement.”
“The word has indeed spread far and wide concerning National Action Against Police Brutality and it is not something that came by easily,” says People Rights Activist and CEO of The Demand for National Action Against Police Brutality and Murder, Danette Chavis. “The toil and effort put forth to get it “out there” where people can actually know of and demand it, was a work in progress over “several months” at a time when people could hardly conceive it. Today, Several organizations and activists are demanding it and have made that demand known at the “highest levels” in government.”
Many people like Danette Chavis have been demanding national action against police brutality. Will President Obama’s new task force be what communities of color have been crying out for, only time will tell. Like Francois said earlier, ‘It’s a good start’, but much more needs to be done!
“Mr. President, the camera’s are rolling, the stage has been set and the people want action,” Chavis adds. “The questions remains, will you perform or continuing acting?”
How long will these protest going on for? What changes will come from them? How will it impact the future? Only God knows. But one things for sure, this will be a time we all look back and remember exactly where we were when it went down because we are all witnessing history in the making of a movement, a national show of hands, when the people stood up and said, Enough! Black Lives Matter! The senseless killing of our young black men, This Ends Today! This Ends Now!