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Whose Streets?

by Louise Adams
Friday Aug 11, 2017
'Whose Streets?'
'Whose Streets?'  

On August 3, 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning minorities to use caution when visiting Missouri. Bustle.com's headline said that this statement "proves Michael Brown's death changed nothing."

Director/producer Sabaah Folayan and co-director Damon Davis beg to differ in her searing "people's documentary" called "Whose Streets?"

Unarmed 18-year-old African-American Mike Brown was murdered by multiple gunshots from a local cop on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, MO, a St. Louis suburb, what some feel is "the new Mississippi." His body lay in the streets for hours; his death ignited a movement, which is chronicled in four parts, using live footage, media stories at the time, and social media posts.

Brown had said "Hands up; don't shoot," which became the mantra and gestures of the residents of this community who transformed into protesters, the first wave of this new resistance, "not your daddy's civil rights movement."

In an environment that valued buildings that were burned over bodies that were assassinated, property over people, Black Lives Matter grew and took to the streets for months, garnering international attention. One said, "We got the stage, let's influence the world."

But the coverage, like those in power, skewed white using a white narrative, and acts of civil disobedience were mischaracterized. Unarmed marchers had red sniper dots trained on their heads and chests; police had machine guns, tanks, and tear gas, "chemical warfare on U.S. soil." The state National Guard was deployed.

"Our behavior changes because the policing changes," a regular noted, as Dr. King was quoted: "A riot is the language of the unheard."

Another 18-year-old was shot and killed on October 8. "We are human beings, like you," the resisters pleaded to the police. "We breathe like you, we bleed like you."

That November, a grand jury did not indict officer Darren Wilson for Brown's murder. The US Department of Justice later confirmed a pattern of racial injustice and corruption in the city and state law enforcement forces, fueling an "unseen war, waged on the people, without anybody knowing."

The battle has gotten worse now. But one of the featured activists, Brittany Farrell, reminds viewers "we don't do this because we hate the police. We do this because we love each other."

"We have nothing to lose but our chains," she chants with her wife and daughter.

But many see that they can never escape. This is where they live, and this war from the past will still stretch into the future.

"It never stops," says one of the guys. "You can't clock out of this shit."

Louise Adams is a writer, actor, educator, yogini and nom de guerre. @MzzzAnthrope


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