Police Killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Exposes U.S. Culture of Racism and Violence

Posted Aug. 20, 2014

MP3 Interview with Kevin Alexander Gray, author and activist, conducted by Scott Harris


In the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown, that killed the unarmed 18-year-old African American in Ferguson, Missouri, the predominately black St. Louis suburb exploded in protest and violence. In the week since the death of Brown, peaceful protests during the day have contrasted with nightly running street battles between riot-clad police and angry crowds defying curfews and throwing rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at state and local law enforcement officials. Many in the community are infuriated that the police officer involved in the shooting has not yet been charged with murder.

The militarized local police response to protests in Ferguson, that included the deployment of armored vehicles, high powered-rifles and flash grenades designed for combat, was widely criticized as further fueling the conflict. Although Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon assigned State Police Capt. Ron Johnson, who grew up in Ferguson to take command of the situation, daily confrontations have continued.

Dorian Johnson, a friend of Michael Brown who was with him during the incident, told investigators that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson chased Brown as he fired a shot that hit him in the back. Then, after Brown put his hands up in the air, the witness stated the officer shot him five or six more times. An independent autopsy requested by the family revealed that Michael Brown was shot six times, twice in the head – and provided evidence that appears to contradict some of Johnson’s account as well as Officer Wilson’s version of the shooting that alleged the teenager had tried to grab his weapon. Racial profiling of African American males by police across the U.S. has resulted in dozens of shooting deaths of unarmed black men each year, a decades-long lethal pattern that provokes anger and fear in black communities. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris Scott Harris spoke with activist and author Kevin Alexander Gray who examines the murder of Michael Brown in the context of of pervasive racism and violence that persists within our nation's criminal justice system and society at large.

Kevin Alexander Gray is one of three editors of a new book titled, "Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence." Find links to more news and commentary by visiting Kevin Alexander Gray’s blog, "The New Liberator" at Thenewliberator.wordpress.com.

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