Ferguson: A Gateway to Justice
By Seven L. Maxwell
My family and I went out to Ferguson to walk and pray with the people who’ve been diligently putting it all on the line in the name of freedom. What I witnessed was a peaceful place where people who normally wouldn’t speak to each other, sharing smiles, laughs, and comfort to their neighbor. I saw a melting pot of ethnicities intermingling while others protested. I saw people delivering food and water to those tireless fighting for freedom. I saw what two masked men who the public would consider street thugs, holding each other both mourning the violence at QuikTrip.
My heart was overjoyed, yet heavy. The passion for the principle was overwhelming, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to share in that moment with my wife and sons. The significance of Mike Brown’s murder was too great to explain in words, yet too important to all allow the media to manipulate the malleable minds of our babies. I had to see it all myself and explain this in the most unbiased way I could to preserve the innocence of my children and their views of the police—after all, my grandfather (my hero) retired the Captain of his police force—while honestly offering a glimpse of reality so they aren’t caught off guard when they are of age.
At the place where Mike Brown took his final breath and laid for hours, I was saddened by the sight and smell of the scene. A makeshift memorial was where the community came together to reflect on the events that have been unfolding from their first-hand point-of-view. They pointed out divergences in the media’s portrayal of what they’ve dubbed the “Crisis in Ferguson.”
I saw rapper J. Cole who stopped through the small suburb of St. Louis. He wasn’t there for pictures. He did interviews, but he wasn’t doing the talking, he was listening—to the people of the community. He, like most of us, wasn’t content with he media’s portrayal of the events unfolding. He wanted to feel a sense of the community that was experiencing such a crisis. It was an intimate moment. He wasn’t a celebrity. He was simply a brother who understood the struggle.
I saw one of the biggest threats to the current social order—I saw an unwavering unity in the Black community. As my family and I held hands to pray with a large group of strangers connected through faith, I had an epiphany: Order has to be disrupted in order for the media to sensationalize this situation. There were few media representatives present, but from the live streams I’ve been following, they’re waiting until nightfall when they are sure they’ll have something to show. They know the world is watching—hell, half the world is flying in to report the ruckus directly. Yet, this isn’t the image we’re being fed. We aren’t getting a glimpse of the peaceful revolution by day, nor or they displaying the full extent of the unprovoked attacks under the guise of nightfall. But as the last few nights have taught us, the residents of Ferguson are ready to defend their community come nightfall and work around the clock to help control any insurgency that may arise.
As I left the scene, at 4:45pm, I stopped by the police staging lot and that’s when the shock set in. There were so many officers present standing idle awaiting an opportunity to enforce the law. They exchanged smiles as if they were at a family reunion. They too were united in their cause; however, there is a stark difference in the purpose of the police and the protesters. When they come together, all hell seems to break loose. They were busily stuffing so much equipment for the evening in the trunks of their vehicles, they couldn’t get it all in. My family and I sat and witnessed officers unsuccessfully maneuvering equipment to a point where they had to unload and start over. My wife and I were amazed at the amount of equipment they needed for the number of people who were peacefully protesting the extinction of their community… so early in the day. As I countdown to the curfew—imposed by Gov. Nixon as he’s declared Ferguson to be in a state of emergency—my anxiety will increase as I remained tuned in to the battle for basic human rights.
From today, I will remain prayerful as the events will continue to unfold. I will remain faithful in the fight against injustice for all. I will remain focused on my role in my children’s lives as we raise our Black boys into productive Black men strong enough to break the cycles and barriers before them.
I want them to understand their struggle, but not be overcome by it. I want them to challenge their mind to expand beyond the media stereotypes and become the leaders of the next generation.
In order for any of that to happen, they need a fair a chance to grow up.