The grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri– assigned to investigate the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson– is now under investigation. You’ll recall the incident, which triggered a flurry of protests (that are still underway) not just in Ferguson, but around the world, where Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Mike Brown, who, according to multiple witnesses, had his hands up at the time that multiple rounds were fired at him. A renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, has confirmed that Brown was struck at least six times with one bullet entering through the top of his head.
Despite at least five eye-witness accounts, two separate recordings (audio and video) and an independent autopsy by Baden, Missouri outright refuses to arrest Darren Wilson who is now in hiding and under strict security funded by the very taxpayers who want to see him brought to justice.
So, a grand jury was convened and they were originally expected to arrive at a decision sometime in November (although they had all of the evidence needed to do so by the end of August). That date was then pushed back to sometime in January, 2015. And now, today, we wake up to this:
Twitter Activism at Its Best
The long and the short of it is that someone on Twitter, claiming to be a friend of someone on the grand jury, tweeted that the group did not have enough evidence to call for Darren Wilson’s arrest. Immediately after tweeting this leak, the person removed the tweet, but not before Shaun King was able to take a screenshot and raise enough of a fuss to trigger an investigation.
Now, what was that that folk were saying about Twitter activism?
By the way, if you watched Ferguson unfold on CNN, NBC, Fox or any other media outlet…or even on Facebook, you missed a whole lot. From day one Twitter was where the real action was and where we got a raw up close and personal look at everything that happened from the first tweet of someone announcing the shooting to everything that followed afterwards. And by everything, I mean live 24-7 video from the protests, hundreds of Vines, live tweets and photos…info from people organizing, fundraising bail money for protesters who’d been arrested– I mean just everything. Glued to my monitors for about two weeks, I can personally attest to the power of Twitter to move the masses. We even had protesters from Gaza who were, themselves, under siege at that time, standing in solidarity and tweeting tips on how to manage being tear-gassed.
I think I logged onto Facebook once or twice during that time and though I saw a few news articles and random conversations about Ferguson, it was nowhere near the electrifying presence that Twitter was broadcasting where every second there were thousands of tweets, pictures, videos, Vines, etc. being shared and people were taking action based on these. Those who weren’t able to go to Ferguson in person were organizing their own protests in their cities and even making phone calls to Ferguson’s jails inquiring about the safety of protesters, politicians and journalists who’d been arrested in the melee (so much for the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of assembly and freedom of the press).
Today Is Shaun King Day
There are too many dedicated activists to name here. Too many who were then and are still now engaged in the Ferguson protest and who use Twitter most effectively to keep us all updated and organized. In honor of today’s announcement of the grand jury investigation, however, I want to take this time to highlight Shaun King. If you don’t know who he is, check him out on Twitter and the many Storify columns which highlight his work (read here, here and here for starters). From his work in circulating this powerful Change.org petition against police misconduct and violence to all of his publishing of facts informing the world about the corruption and shady dealings beyond the Ferguson PD right on up to that state’s governor Jay Nixon, King has been tireless in his efforts to keep the issue of police violence at the forefront of our minds.
Must Read: Shaun King’s Essential Resource Guide To Understanding All Things Ferguson
It is because of King’s reporting and so many other activists and investigative reporters like him that this grand jury leak comes as no surprise. From the day Darren Wilson pulled the trigger, it’s been nothing but dishonesty, misleading information and a blatant disregard of the law coming from Ferguson officials who, apparently, have a history of racism and of this sort of misconduct. Here’s just a small taste of what I mean:
Roorda was fired from the police force of Arnold, a St. Louis exurb, in 2001. His superiors accused him of filing a false statement against a suspect in 1997 and against his own police chief in 2001 when the chief declined to give Roorda paid paternity leave, according to Missouri court records.
Roorda, by the way, is also responsible for the fundraising page, which raised a ton of money for officer Darren Wilson…who by the way is still employed, has not been arrested and has not been charged with a crime. Let me restate this– he has not lost his paycheck, nor has he had to pay an attorney to fight his case. So what’s the fundraiser for? Congratulatory prize money, maybe? Who knows. Roorda also stumps for Missouri’s Governor Nixon and is in bed with County Prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, who convened the grand jury and who has also been asked to recuse himself because of his own impartiality.
Do you see why I’m not surprised?
Silence Is Dangerous
And for those who keep telling us to stand down, shut up and let justice take its course…do you see why we can’t trust the so-called justice they issue? From top to bottom and up again, they have proven themselves to be part of a corrupt, deceitful, lying, violent good ol’ boys club with zero intention of ever truly investigating this case, which is why Attorney General Eric Holder was compelled to step in and order a federal investigation. Their track record in these types of cases isn’t the greatest either, but I’m merely pointing out why there’s such an outcry for someone to do something as this entire system has run amok.