Mike Brown Case Hits Mizzou

By: Olivia Rivers

Whether you watch the five o’clock news every day or just occasionally read through the latest news stories that pop up when you open your web browser, you have most likely heard something about the case of Michael Brown Jr., which has sent our nation into a deep reflection of civil rights.

August 9th of this year, shortly before other 2014 high school graduates departed home for their much anticipated first year of college, Mike Brown was fatally shot 10-12 times in the St. Louis, Missouri suburb Ferguson. The unarmed eighteen year old was killed by a Ferguson police officer right before he could begin the next phase of his life, leaving his family and community hurting and questioning.

Shortly after the details of Michael’s death spread, members of Ferguson and nearby communities began protesting and holding demonstrations. Admittedly, not all responses to Brown’s devastating story, were peaceful. There were violent and destructive acts carried out in the community which Brown was gunned down in, though after the fact it was determined that many participants in those harmful doings were not Ferguson residents. The pain felt by the community, which sees the killing of unarmed minority males by police officers as on ongoing problem that need be addressed, was intensified when a grand jury acquitted Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson of five possible charges for killing Brown, deciding to not even let the case go to trial. The possible charges Wilson could have faced included: involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, second degree murder, and first degree murder.

The circumstances surrounding Michael Brown’s death, which was yet another example of a social issue which has plagued the country for generations, eventually warranted national and global attention. Leading to protest around the nation and even one right here on Mizzou’s campus. Tuesday, December 2nd, hundreds of MU students took to the student center for a demonstration in support of justice for Mike Brown. Tashan Reed, a freshman here at MU and a resident of Ferguson, described the event as “…a peaceful march into the student center with arms raised” Reed went on to say that the “Crowd gathered in [the] middle and began chanting things like ‘black lives matter, hands up don’t shoot, etc’ then…several people made speeches or read poems.” Last week The Maneater published a story recapping the event, which featured a very moving picture of the “die-in” that took place during the demonstration. A freshman here at MU, Sana Moore, stated that “The overall mood was very empowering and impactful. It was like everyone came together and was able to fight for something we all believed in.”

Not everyone in the student center that day was supporting the cause so many had come together to raise awareness for. According to Sana Moore, “There was someone who was against the protest, they stood on top of a table and yelled harsh things towards us, however, it didn’t stop us from continuing our acts.” Perhaps even harsher were the words that weren’t said to the faces of demonstrators, but rather on the popular social media app Yik Yak. Following the protest, several MU students took to Yik Yak to post numerous offensive, racist, and threatening messages. One such post read, “As the protest end and masses of people leave the student center, I wonder how many things will be ‘missing’ from the Mizzou store.” Another, bolder post read, “Saw all of them in the student center and thought they were giving out free chicken and kool aid.” Just when it seemed like the post couldn’t get any harsher or more offensive, one student wrote, “Black people butt hurt over the stereotype they cause…again. I’m gonna step on every one of your fat lipped faces if you don’t get the fuck out of the way, and off the ground.” If only Mike Brown were able to get up off of the ground that doomful

Saturday. Unfortunately he couldn’t, for he had been shot to death unnecessarily by an officer who will perhaps never have consequences for the shooting that he claims he would do all over again.

Sophomore Katherine O’Keefe, who resides in Ferguson when she’s not here in Columbia at school, responded to the messages by saying, “People are insensitive to matters that don’t affect their daily lives and all of the people who were posting things don’t understand the hurt that the protesters were feeling so they should keep their…mouths shut and respect how others were peacefully expressing their feelings.” Many protesters are speaking out because they fear that a similar situation could happen to one of their loved ones. Protesters want to promote the message that all life is valuable, and that black lives matter too. While some students, who maybe just don’t see how Mike Brown’s case affects them, may have posted ignorant messages on Yik Yak such as “Well hey, at least they didn’t burn down the student center too, right?” in an attempt at humor, one student posted an alarming threat on the app. The anonymous student wrote, “Let’s burn down the black culture center and give them a taste of their own medicine.” While none of the Yik Yak post in response to the protest should have been taken lightly, the post threatening MU property provoked a response from MU’s Chancellor.

In short, the upset following the death of Michael Brown Jr. is not over, and I predict that we will continue to have demonstrations across the nation until a significant change is made in the way law enforcement conducts itself. Whether you are for or against all that these protests stand for, let us, regardless of race, age, or background, keep things peaceful.