A year ago today, Michael Brown Jr. was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson Missouri. The teenager was shot six times, including twice in the head, by the white police officer. Unarmed and unprotected, Brown’s body was then left uncovered on the road, in full view of family members and neighbours.
Whilst the Department of Justice attested to the fact that Brown had assaulted the police officer and attempted to grab his weapon, contradictory evidence points to Brown standing with his hands up yelling “don’t shoot” – a call to action adopted by protesters following his death.
The killing fuelled a nation-wide protest movement against inherent racial prejudice within the police force.
Hundreds of activists and supporters gathered on Canfield Drive to remember the exact time of death of Michael Brown. Academic Cornel West joined Michael Brown Sr along with the daughter of Eric Garner, who was also killed by police.
“This year has been so hard,” said Ms Garner to BBC. “No accountability, no justice. Police are still killing us.”
Michael Brown’s father thanked protesters for their ongoing support and maintained that they had allowed Brown’s killing and all those who came before, and after, not to be just “swept under the rug”.
Although the initial protests in Ferguson were marred by conservative rhetoric that disproved any wrong doing on behalf of the police officer, the protests did initiate an important Justice Department investigation that found evidence of widespread racial prejudice in the Ferguson police department.
Protesters were quick to point out that, regardless of the reasons for killing Michael, a police officer shot an unarmed man six times including twice in the head. At no point was a taser used nor was Michael apprehended in any way. His killing acted as proof enough that Michael’s life was considered “expendable” by the acting police officer.
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, from the Ferguson Action Council spoke to the BBC about the positive change that has occurred from last years protests. Although some progress has been made, there is still a mountain to climb until America sees real change in society at large.
“We have not seen the kind of systematic change that is necessary, whereby every other day in America a mother is not writing the eulogy of her child which shall be the elegy of the nation,” he said.