August 9, 2014 — that is truly a day that will live in infamy. It is the day when a Ferguson police officer gunned down unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. His body was left unattended to for hours on the street in the hot summer sun, and neither family nor friends were even able to cover him.
Darren Wilson, the cop that did the killing, is still a free man, drawing full pay from the Ferguson police force. He has yet to tell his story publicly as to what happened, so the public is left in the dark. Meanwhile, in a highly provocative action, police in Ferguson began wearing “I Am Darren Wilson” bracelets until federal officials persuaded them to take them off.
In the past two months, the African American community in Ferguson, together with its many supporters, has been seething with anger. But along with that, activists have been organizing, and have called “A Weekend of Resistance” for October 10–13. Among the actions planned during those days is a march to the prosecutor’s office, which is certainly needed in view of his record of shielding white police officers from prosecution, despite their having killed unarmed Black people.
From the beginning, the Labor Fightback Network, along with countless other organizations and individuals, has been demanding the immediate arrest of Wilson. He must be held accountable for what eyewitnesses on the scene — whose version of the events has not been refuted publicly so far by Wilson or the police — have described as his flagrantly unjustified shooting.
We strongly believe that the key factor in determining whether the Grand Jury will allow Wilson to walk is the magnitude of the movement demanding justice for Michael Brown. That is why the actions called for October 10–13— and the ones that will surely follow — are so critically important.
The key to the situation, in our judgment, is the extent to which the labor movement, particularly in the states contiguous to Missouri but also in other parts of the country, together with its allies and partners, will make the October actions as massive as possible. Surely the racist character of the Brown killing, together with the pattern of oppression, discrimination, and victimization of the African American community in Ferguson, warrant such labor action now. Brown’s mother is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. The situation underscores the importance of the age-old labor principle that an injury to one is an injury to all.
The whole world is watching what is transpiring these days in Ferguson. If Wilson is allowed to walk free of the charges without so much as a trial, the hypocrisy of the U.S. ”justice system” will be apparent to all who are not blinded by racist poison. But in addition, if labor, with the exception of progressive local unions here and there, is passive and fails to mobilize its ranks in solidarity with the Brown family and the working class in Ferguson, it will be subject to sharp criticism — and legitimately so.
To our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, we urge you to pull out all the stops at this moment of crisis. Let us together do everything we can to win our unions to galvanizing a turnout so large as to help make the difference. Demanding Justice for Michael Brown without combining that demand with action will not win the day.
Join us in Ferguson on October 10–13!