I can remember every detail. My grandmother had just passed away that June and we spent the remainder of the summer cleaning out her house to be sold. That Saturday afternoon was filled with sorting, reminiscing, packing, and throwing away all of my grandmother’s items. My aunt had also just succumbed to cancer three days prior after being placed on hospice 7 days before. She was a helping hand in cleaning out my grandmother’s house before becoming increasingly ill. On this day, the vibe was very mellow and we just wanted to get done. It was a cruel summer for the Flowers’ family to say the least but like we are known to do, we kept pushing.
We had been cleaning for a good 3 hours and decided to take a break: my mom, aunt Violet, and I. We sat in the TV room and my aunt pulled out her phone and on Yahoo’s main page it read, “Police involved shooting. Heavy police presence in Ferguson.” I had not been on my phone the entire time we were cleaning so I decided to do my usual and log into Twitter. All I saw was the gruesome image of Michael Brown’s body slain on hot concrete all up and down my TL. Everyone was RT’ing and hash-tagging #MichaelBrown.
I had never seen anything like it. My grandmother lived in Ferguson. Addy’s father lives in the complex adjacent to Canfield. This is an area I was raised in and knew all too well. All of the chaos was just one exit over from my Grandmother’s house so my mother and I decided to get into the car and drive over to Canfield. The street was blocked off right in front of “what is now known to be the burned down Quick Trip” so my mother parked on a side street and we walked to where everybody was. It was so many people with so many questions. It had to be around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and by then police cars from multiple municipalities were there: blocking the street and standing outside their cars attempting to de-escalate anything that could possibly happen.
There were so many stories being said as everyone was trying to figure out what exactly happened.
“This cop just came and shot him, man. He ain’t even do nothing.”
“Somebody tried to rob that store and a cop chased him down and shot him.”
Nobody really knew the facts but one universal detail was, the boy was unarmed.
Apparently this incident happened earlier in the day and his body was still in the middle of the street on Canfield Dr. No one was allowed to go down that street and his body had yet to be covered.
People were livid. They were yelling and screaming at law enforcement demanding information and weren’t getting it.
The tactical team had arrived and law enforcement positioned as if they were ready for war. This was before the rioting and the looting. The was the very beginning when concerned residents were only trying to figure out “why?”
My mother and I stayed for close to an hour and decided to leave as traffic got heavier. We were unsure of what exactly happened or what would eventually happen. We just knew that was only the beginning.
On Sunday evening, our household sat and watched the events of Ferguson like the rest of the country. It was like watching a movie. I had never seen my city like this. I remember telling my dad when Trayvon Martin was killed and when Eric Garner was killed, I don’t see something like that going down in St. Louis because we would never stand for it. Unfortunately, we are known for having one of the worst crime rates but I still couldn’t fathom it happening here. This was different. I am used to turning on the TV and watching incidents in LA, NY, Florida, Detroit…..not here. To know that not only can I turn on my TV, but I can drive in my car 7 minutes down the road and see it for myself. This was crazy.
I can’t tell you the mix of emotions that was flowing within me. My Aunt’s wake was set for that following Monday and I was also set to start school (I worked at a St. Louis City Public School as a College Adviser) that Monday. Would there be a conversation about this at work tomorrow? Would they act like it never happened? Could I even grieve properly for the aunt I just lost? The thoughts were all too much.
Following the events of August 9th, I can honestly say that my city has changed. For better or worse, I can’t really say. Everybody likes to criticize the rioting and looting (which I do not agree with) BUT I understand this destruction. I understand it completely. Without that chaos, this would’ve been looked over. The nation would not have stopped and watched. Would there have been prolonged conversation about this? I do not believe so. To many, he just would’ve been another black boy that “probably did something to cause his demise.”
Many activist groups have formed with some individuals I know very well and are very proud of. Universities have come out of the classroom and protested and provided forums for people to attend and discuss race relations and solutions. Investors have poured into Ferguson in order to create resources for local youth (jobs, activities, summits, etc.). Some sketchy officials have resigned and some departments are looking to diversify their force. #BlackLivesMatter has made its way all the way to the White House in hopes of creating positive/long lasting change for us.
It is said that Mike Brown always expressed that the world would know his name but if he knew the manner in which this would come to be, would he have tried to change anything? One thing is for sure, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back and whatever side of the fence we are on, we can never stray away from it because it will always be in our faces.
Where were you on August 9th? Have you done anything since then to ensure that August 9th doesn’t happen again?
RIP Mike Brown