The Power of the People

By Nyame-Kye E.J. Kondo

It’s been nearly a month since unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

 

In an attempt to alleviate the discomfort and sadness brought on by such a senseless act of violence, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my immediate reaction, but more importantly to focus on the positive movement that has grown out of this tragedy. When I first heard about the death of young Michael Brown I felt a familiar pang of sadness in my heart and somberly muttered “not another one.” Looking back, I understand that my sorrowful response was in part because of the sweetness in the face of young Michael Brown, the fact that he looked like every bodies “big little brother” and the sad reality that he would be forever frozen in time, a young man whose bright future was destroyed by one trigger happy police officer who did not know his limitations. There is no solace in the world that can bring back a momma’s baby; no amount of justice can breathe life into a body destroyed by such a senseless act of violence.

 

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will make it impossible for me to wipe the image of Brown’s 6 foot 4 frame sprawled out on a Ferguson street, fitted cap lying haphazardly next to him, one forgotten sports sandal a short distance away.  This image, a snapshot of American history, will soon be boxed away with the other casualties of race related crimes committed against Black people in this country, a constant reminder of the negative entities that all people should be fighting to elevate above for the betterment of all humanity.

 

In the midst of this tragedy I also realized how powerful social media can be and how easily it can be used as either a negative or positive tool to bring about social change. If it weren’t for alternative sources covering the story in Ferguson, the positive aspect of this tragedy would have been missed by those living outside of it. If anything the only thing that would have been reported was the burning of the convenience store where Brown was prior to his death and the looting that commenced after that. The citizens marching in the streets of various ages, colors, and backgrounds yelling “No justice, no peace, no racist police” would have been overlooked and Brown’s story would not have garnered the attention it deserved. 

 

I personally participated in a protest that I found out about via Facebook. Walking from Malcolm X Park all the way to Gallery Place, I sweated and sang with people that I had only seen on my computer screen. Connected virtually, united mentally, the power of organized movement is unstoppable and very much needed during this time of upheaval. This particular movement may help to pass a huge law that will insure the protection of American citizens, and the accountability of the police.

 

The aforementioned law is named after Mike Brown and its intent is to make it a legal requirement for all police officers to wear cameras while on duty. If this law gets passed, it would represent a new era in the relationship between the judicial system and American citizens; one that will force the police to take responsibility for their actions because they would be under constant scrutiny. 

 

The White House petition for “Mike Browns Law” has surpassed its goal, but people are now rallying to insure that the law gets passed. When measuring the exposure of Mike Brown’s death on social media the outcome tilts towards the positive, especially when considering that people who would otherwise not have been exposed are informed. People who would not have participated found a way to express themselves and lend energy to the movement in whatever way they could. We are keeping this case in the public eye and the public spirit, so that situations like this will never happen again. Mike Brown’s life is valuable, all of our lives are valuable, so let’s make our voices count. 

 

 

Photo by Soronia “Ziggy” Taylor

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