Ferguson youth on the frontlines

After several days of violent protests and intense confrontations between local police  and protestors the police decided to pull back and allow the protestors to march peacefully and protest. The scene resembled a gigantic street party which was managed mainly by middle aged African-Americans who kept the traffic flowing. For most of the night the police were no where to be seen and the Ferguson public were able to both simultaneously protest and celebrate a small 'victory' of sorts.

One of the aspects of the uprising in Ferguson that is most striking to me is the determination of the protesters. The police arrived with armored vehicles and assault rifles, and the people kept fighting. Then a new cop was put in charge who tried to defeat the uprising with smiles and handshakes – and the people still kept fighting.

The National Guard arrived, and the rebellion continued. The National Guard left, and the rebellion continued. A curfew was imposed and lifted, but the community marched in their streets whenever they wished.

Of course, the entirety of the Black community in Ferguson and surrounding areas were represented, but a special role was played by youth. Why else would the ruling class media take so much time to slander and demonize young people as vandals and looters? “Everything was going fine,” the newspapers and networks say, “until a group of young troublemakers forced the police to step in.”

The reality is that the system is stunned and terrified at the heroic acts of self-defense carried out night after night by the youth of Ferguson. The ruling class can have all the guns and money in the world – Ferguson is proof that this can always be matched by the willingness of oppressed people to sacrifice.

This resistance has established the youth of Ferguson not only as a vanguard element in the struggle against white supremacy, but leaders of an entire generation of young people desperate to free themselves of a system that robs them of a future.

I’ve noticed that this is true in Philadelphia (and I suspect other cities) as well. At demonstrations and meetings to organize solidarity with the Ferguson uprising, young people – with crucial guidance by veteran activists and revolutionaries – are always the most eager to get started with the fight back. Even though the struggle for justice for Mike Brown continues and murderer cop Darren Wilson is still free, the rebellion has already won a key victory. Fear and cynicism have given way to confidence and hope among countless young people who are inspired by our leaders in Ferguson.


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