Houston, TX. On November 25, 2014, in the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s failure to acquit Darren Wilson for the murder of black teen Michael Brown, over 400 Houstonians, primarily youth, marched through the streets of Southeast Houston.
The protest began in MacGregor Park with a brief march to the MLK Statue, where several protestors spoke out on injustices not only in Ferguson but with Houston Police Department (HPD) as well. Protestors then marched past police barriers and onto MacGregor Street, bringing rush hour traffic to a halt. Protestors were also able to occupy other high traffic streets such as Scott and Wheeler as they marched through historically black neighborhood Third Ward and Texas Southern University, all the while chanting, “Out of the houses, into the streets!” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”
Though the protest was overall peaceful, it was highly impassioned, with the very aim to “shut [Houston] down”, unprecedented to any protest seen in Houston other than one after Trayvon Martin’s death.
The protestors were composed of all shades of color, yet what was remarkable of the protest was the amount of youth present, with 20-something year old’s being the overwhelming majority. There were no civic liberties organizations, no unions, no politicians, in all, no funded organizations present to quell the anger of the protestors.
There were no filters, just raw emotions.
The protest, like many others around the nation, was not questioning the innocence of Michael Brown, whether he was a “good kid” or not, or whether he stole a pack of Cigarillos or not. Michael Brown’s death is not an isolated event that only happens in Ferguson, Missouri.
Rather, it is the institutionalized racism that continues to uphold the threads of society and how those institutions disproportionately affect black and brown bodies that fuels our anger. It is how those structures hold to the legacy of Jim Crow criminalizing blacks and browns, creating a highway to prison route while also creating an unexplainable fear of the black body. It is how blacks and browns are more likely to experience violence in the hands of police than our white counterparts.
It is challenging the society that forces us to teach our black and brown youths to be afraid and not look threatening and to hesitate when calling the police.
The Criminal Justice system did not fail to find justice for Mike Brown. It performed exactly how it is intended to.
By the end of the night, over 100 (one hundred) HPD officers had encircled the protestors, including 15 officers on 7 foot horses. Looking into the eyes of protestors as they stood face to face, nose to nose, with officers and their horses, you could see how uneasiness had been replaced with defiance, fear replaced with fury, and silence replaced with rage. Despite the long standing structures of slavery that extend to modern times, our youth is awakening to a new dawn of resistance that is stronger than the fear this system has created.
This is the Deep South. This is Houston.