We met up with a few friends who had arrived a few days before us and headed to the memorial for Mike Brown. Parking nearly a block away out of respect, we noticed a line of roses leading up to the spot where Mike Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson. Emotions whirled as I noticed the crowd of people still surrounding the memorial after nearly two weeks.
I found myself not just looking at the memorial, but looking inside myself. As I stood beside the large pile of cards, posters and stuffed animals, I noticed something. It was not just the group of people standing at the memorial mourning the loss of one life. I saw an entire city–an entire race–grieving together. And it was not just one life lost. We were morning something bigger.
Shane and I shared a moment of eye contact blurred by tears as we saw how normal death has become in America. According to the FBI’s statistics of reportedly “justifiable homicides,” records show that nearly two times each week a black person died at the hands of a white police officer between 2005 and 2012. Michael Brown was not alone. There are 100 Michael Browns each year. It was not the death of Michael Brown alone that provoked our tears, but the number of others too.
Despite the fact that white folks continue to be a majority, a 2011 study showed that ethnic minorities are a majority of the victims of homicide. African Americans rank number one at almost 45%.
I could have easily been another number added to the FBI statistical data.
As we cleared our eyes and walked back to the car, we stopped to pray. Forming a prayer circle, we prayed for the families of Ferguson and also the other cities and nations that are hurting around the world.
Describing the experience of being part of a growing movement that, step by step, is calling for a better world, Gregory paints the picture of the night, marching block by block.
The folks we met did not want vengeance and did not want officer Darren Wilson killed. They want an end to killing. They want all police forces to acknowledge that their practices and policies should be rethought. They believe in a movement that has the power to stop the deaths of young black men such as Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Sean Bell.
So we marched from 6:30pm until 2:30am . . . chanting, "We are young, we are strong, we are marching all night long!"