This is the sixth article in a series by Bassem Masri, St. Louis local and Ferguson live streamer/ activist. ReadCONTRA.com first met Bassem Masri on our first trip to Ferguson in August 2014. We have shared his voice and story since then and featured his independent voice on ReadCONTRA.com. Follow him at @Bassem_Masri
The most common thing I hear about the post-indictment phase of the Darren Wilson case is how tense and on edge the city is. We can all say without a shadow of a doubt that St. Louis County officials have dropped the ball and let all of us down, and there could definitely be a lot more transparency between the citizens and our public servants.
Mike Brown was the wind that fanned the flames of underlying tensions in St. Louis County. His death sparked an awakening unlike any other of our generation. A factor in the immediate uprising in St. Louis and St. Louis County is that the government has systematically disenfranchised many of its residents, especially the youth, by criminalizing them with petty charges and then labeling them as criminals. Once labeled a criminal, your voice dies in the “official” world.
The Republicans don’t represent us and neither do the Democrats, the only thing that protects us is the Constitution. The document that’s supposed to keep our freedoms and liberties protected from predatory governments.
When the tear gas came out they targeted non-violent demonstrators and the media, the first and fourth amendments were tossed out the window. How as citizens of America are we supposed to react to that? Personally, and I can speak for a lot of the people involved, the blatant abuse of our rights is a driving factor in why we’re doing what we’re doing.
My father was born in Palestine and I was born in America. I am a Palestinian American and I am deeply patriotic to both countries. If I had to go with a political label, then I would call myself a constitutionalist. Humans should all have a chance to live equally, preservation of life is a fundamental principle, and our liberties are non-negotiable. Our forefathers saw to that, and our soldiers fought and died for it. Respect for those who have fallen and recognizing their sacrifice is important.
Unfortunately our way of life is once again under siege, and the innocent are being caught in the middle. Civilians, young and old, are taking precautions to ensure the safety of their property and their loved ones. Kids have to eat and get to school I can attest to you that we will try to make it so everyone will be safe. Generally speaking, everything is calm until police hurts someone and only then does the community react. Deescalating situations should be left to community organizers, and only in extreme situations should the police get involved. Collective punishment is not the American way. As long as police handle the demonstrators peacefully, and respect our constitutional rights, there will be no problems. We can then start a healing process that takes some hard dialogue between both parties involved.
Mainstream Media’s Imaginary Narrative:
The race war narrative is an unjust story as the diversity of the movement is powerful and uplifting. Often the mainstream media has a narrow view of the situation, and they paint a picture based on just a few isolated events. This can be very misleading and can make a mess of things and has ratcheted up the tension in Ferguson. The community does not fear the peaceful protestors, only the outside agitators. Agitators whose agenda is the spread of hate, fear, and violence.
But has anyone stopped to consider what may happen if there is an indictment? Darren Wilson supporters have made more radical statements than Michael Brown supporters on Twitter and online message boards. It hadn’t manifested itself yet but if we don’t address it will surely grow into something that nobody wants. To the hate groups: All I can say is if you do show up, you will be shocked at the solidarity of the community.
We as a community will overcome the barriers that others have put in our way.
People of St. Louis, we the protesters in Ferguson do not wish harm on anyone regardless of the decision on the indictment of Darren Wilson. I can’t speak for all, but a majority of us will be demonstrating according to Reverend Sekou’s ideology: “Militant non-violent civil disobedience.” And we will direct our attention only toward the police.
Regular citizens won’t have to fear property damage or violence coming from community protesters. Almost 100 days of protesting we have been peaceful 98% of the time. We have all made mistakes, including myself, but we learn from them and move forward.
The next few weeks our communities strength will be tested, history has shown us that violence only breeds more violence. Our paths are all not the same, but we all have one thing in common the fact that we are all human beings.