As I sit here and listen to my favorite Miles Davis song, Blue in Green it feels exactly how I feel right now. It’s not just a sad song, its always made me feel a variety of things. I returned this afternoon to my hometown Chicago, after taking a trip to Ferguson. When Dreamville called me and let me know Cole was heading up there and asked if I wanted to go, I said of course without question. I don’t think any of us actually knew what to expect but we knew it was necessary. After hearing Cole’s recent song it brought me back to some older feelings I shared during my college years where I protested on issues, marched and actually believed I could make a difference on my campus of 40,000 whites and 2,000 blacks. As soon as we arrived we headed to ground zero where Michael Brown had been gunned down on that very, very narrow street. Roses, gifts and items of memorial lie on the spot where his body was dropped and left for 5 hours for the entire neighborhood to watch. I spoke with residents who witnessed the murder and those who lived on the block. One man’s account was so vivid in detail that it was hard for me to hear, and hold back tears. This wasn’t CNN, or MSNBC or even Twitter. This was a first hand account and you could hear and feel the hurt and sincerity of this community. Many others would explain to me how their children were traumatized by seeing this happen. And almost everyone explained to me how they had never been afraid of anyone in the neighborhood except the police. Later we headed to the church rally where people gathered in peaceful protest and wore signs and shirts that spread the message of justice and compassion for Michael Brown and equality.
After heading to the main road where we spoke to people who peacefully protested, marched and shouted phrases of justice, our car service would take us to a Wendy’s parking lot to wait for a friend of ours arriving to meet us. As we sat waiting, talking and thinking about what we had seen, a few cops started to approach one of the vehicles. Moments later more and more cops slowly approached, all holding machine guns. Some of these cops were setting up, getting into position in ditches behind garbage cans in the background. One of them approached the vehicle I was in and the first thing he asked me was, “Do you have any weapons in here?” I quickly replied, “Why would we have any weapons?” To which, he started to ramble off a non-sensical answer about how they’re out there to protect themselves and they just saw some cars and you never know. You never know what? I repeated my question, “Ok, but why would we have any weapons on us?” He again gave me a bullshit answer about how they have to be careful. All the while this conversation was happening, his fellow officers, had their hands on their machine guns while looking at me. We were in a parked car in Wendys doing nothing at all. And they approached us, and tried to provoke us. They wanted to find an incentive to use their new toys. I take you back to his answer. His answer was not, we are out here to protect and serve you…’we are out here to protect ourselves.’ What are they protecting themselves from?
They shot Michael Brown six times, and twice in the head so they could protect themselves from whatever he could say. So they could protect themselves from his side of the story ever getting to the world. So they can now loop a robbery video, and constantly broadcast that he had marijuana in his system as if any of those things alleviate them from being murderers without cause. They are on the street provoking these citizens and inflaming the situation with tanks, machine guns, tear gas and sonic weapons to push their agenda of fear and send a message that black life is not valuable or respected. I listened to countless stories and details from the people all over ferguson and the greatest thing for me was how balanced and well thought out their perspectives were. They really understood what was going on, they understood what needed to be done and why violence was not the answer and why the police were doing what they are doing. I met ONE person the entire day that felt violence was the answer. The media will have you believe there are tons of looters and riots happening on the street until that same media gets violated by these police officers. It is a very small percentage of people who have poor intentions. Obama gave a speech today that mentioned the accountability of black men a few times and never ever even suggested the accountability of the ferguson police or the possibility that any of these killings are racially motivated. No president is perfect, but the way he has handled this entire situation is disappointing to say the least.
When Miles Davis made his album, Kind of Blue he said he wanted to evoke the feeling of when he was young in Arkansas on a lonely road with his cousin at night coming from church. The people in ferguson are on this same road. They feel all alone with no one to truly be a voice or someone who can actually do something for them. I hope that our presence may have helped at least one person there. And more than anything, I hope that all of us can pray for justice in this case. Because, Ferguson is just the beginning. If they can pull this off here, I guarantee they can send drones to Chicago and anywhere else and get rid of us all. Know justice, know peace.