El Jones is the current Halifax poet laureate, spoken word artist, and teaches in the African Canadian Transition Program at the Nova Scotia Community College and in the Women’s Studies program at Acadia University. On August 18, From the Margins interviewed El about the Michael Brown murder and its aftermath, the targeting of Black people by police and the ugliest of institutionalized racism. The show also features topical poetry by El Jones and more. Scroll down for the interview.
On August 9th in Ferguson Missouri, Michael Brown, an unarmed, Black 18-year-old African-American male was killed by multiple gun shots from white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Brown was walking down the street with friend Dorian Johnson when Wilson stopped them, apparently for jaywalking, then the officer, according to various reports, turned the jaywalk stop into an investigation over a robbery.
The Brown family’s lawyer said, “Nothing, based on the facts before us, justifies the execution-style murder by this police officer in broad daylight. The police are playing games here and the parents are beyond incensed with the way that the police are handling the distribution of information. The police are not being transparent and they are strategically trying to justify this execution-style murder.”
Since the shooting, there have been ongoing demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri and beyond, against the slaying of Brown by police, but which have gone well beyond a singular focus on Brown himself, addressing the targeting of Black people by police in general. For context on the extent of this problem, according to the FBI’s most recent accounts of “justifiable homicide,” in the seven years between 2005 and 2012, a white officer used deadly force against a Black person almost two times every week.
The scene in Ferguson, Missouri: the police have mounted in force against the demonstrations, using smoke bombs, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the crowds. The justification for the police applying such force are their allegations of looting, and throwing of bottles and other projectiles at the heavily armed police. The repression has included the arrests of journalists from the Washington Post, Huffington Post and seizing of equipment from Al Jazeera America.
On August 16, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared in a press conference a state of emergency and implemented nightly curfews in Ferguson from midnight to 5:00 a.m.