The #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson in the United States (US) are revealing shocking stories about how some black citizens were treated by police simply because they joined the protest to exercise their constitutional right.
In the US today, despite these ill treatments by the police, the events that unfolded during the protests have brought people together and created unity in the black communities and they stand hand in hand with one great voice of being repressed.
After the police shooting of an unarmed Blackman- Michael Brown in Ferguson, the black community in the US embarked on a nationwide protest. Whereas some of the Mainstream media broadcasted images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames to paint the picture black to the outside world, some elements on social media also managed to push false narratives into the public eye regarding the events in Ferguson.
It was in Ferguson that the word “thug” which is a hot button word, was used many times in recent history of the US. The word has a negative connotation, bringing to mind a mental image of gang members committing heinous crimes.
But for the Black community across the US, the death of Michael Brown exposed a hypocritical institutional racism, police brutality and above all, the killings of many unarmed black men across the country. The purpose of this piece is to tell a story of two Black gentlemen who suffered unspeakable brutalities at the hands of the so called law enforcement agencies.
A video published by the Revolution News after the protests showed two Black men- Trev and Shoota who took part in the protest in Ferguson speaking about their encounter with the police and how they were treated for taking part in the protest.
Trev was on probation during the Ferguson protests. It is unclear what he did previously to get locked up in prison. Trev said he wants the US laws to be changed for the better because fair is fair and if he commits a crime, he goes to jail without any compromise. But it is not when he has not done anything to merit his freedom taken away from him. That is not justice in the land which proud itself as the leader of the new free world.
As we speak now, Trev is back in prison, serving a two-year term. His crime is that he has protested. According to his new charge, he and others failed to stop their protest when the police arrived at the scene during the BlackLivesMatter protest. This is hard to understand. Or maybe individuals with past criminal records don’t have the first amendment right to protest peacefully? You can answer that question for yourself.
For Shoota, he was lucky to have escaped arrest and is now in Milwaukee helping with protests supporting Dontre Hamilton. But he never had it on a sliver platter. He speaks of being hit with rubber bullets, tear gassed, roughed up, slammed on the ground and harassed by police in Ferguson for abiding by the law and doing what the Constitution says he the absolute right to do-to embark on a peaceful protest.
In Shoota’s story, he revealed something important that maybe has not been given much attention. Many people in communities such as Ferguson are scared. Especially for those who have past criminal records. They are afraid to protest, least, what happened to Trev befalls them. If they got arrested for protesting, they don’t get held for a few hours and released on bail, they risk going to jail for a long time like Trev.
The truth of the matter is that we all have past records. And our past should not in any way dictate our present. We believe that the crimes they committed in the past should not invalidate their voices in the present. Society need to listen to their story and re structure the system to accommodate the marginalized. They have already suffered enough. Their forefathers were forced from their homes in Africa and elsewhere as slaves. And today in modern US, they live in communities most affected by poverty, crime and police brutality. That is unfair. Huge change is needed now.