Day 8 - Last Words: Michael Brown
"I don't have a gun. Stop shooting."
Michael Brown, 1996-2014
Shortly before noon on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson walked along the double yellow lines in the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri. Officer Darren Wilson approached the two boys in his vehicle and ordered them to move out of the middle of the road. There was a struggle between Brown and Wilson, during which Wilson's gun fired twice, striking Brown's right hand. Both boys fled, and Wilson got out of his car to pursue Brown. Wilson fired his gun, striking Brown's body at least six times and killing him.
Brown's body remained in the street for over four hours. After his corpse was taken away, two weeks passed before his mother was able to see him. In November 2014, a grand jury elected not to indict Officer Wilson. In the months after shooting Brown, Wilson received nearly $500,000 in online support. Michael Brown's last words are taken from an interview with his friend Dorian Johnson on MSNBC on August 11, 2014.
In June 2017 St. Louis County agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the relatives of Michael Brown. In 2016 Lezley McSpadden published, Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown. McSpadden is also the founder of the Michael O. D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation.
Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC
During debates in the 1950s and 60s, many white Southerners resisted integration by suggesting a milder, "middle of the road" approach to racial equity. Mississippi novelist William Faulkner famously suggested that, if pushed to move on integration, he would go with white Southerners "into the streets and shoot blacks."
Baldwin knows that half-hearted, lukewarm movements for racial justice will turn into a bloodbath for the oppressed. In what is far too heart-breaking a reality, Michael Brown's body bears the wounds of the white man who cannot walk the middle of the road. Brown's body bears the bullets of the white man who cannot help but shoot black men in the very streets he claims to protect.