Nyimah Jackson Staff Writer
Since 2014, multiple activists connected to the Ferguson, Mo., protests have died. These protests started August 9, 2014, when Michael Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson. His death came just two months after Eric Garner’s, who died after being placed in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Brown’s death incited a night of rioting that stemmed from anger towards police brutality and the tense relationship between police officers and African Americans. The riots went on for weeks before dying down momentarily. Three months later, a Grand Jury announced that officer Darren Wilson had acted in self defense against Brown and would not be indicted. The decision drew more violent riots and protests in Ferguson.
A week after the Ferguson protest began, known activist Deandre Joshua’s body was found burning inside his car with a bullet hole to the head, down the street from Brown’s memorial. The case continued to be a cold case with no suspects named or a clear motive. However, two years later, another activist by the name of Darren Seals was found murdered the exact same way, with a gunshot to the head and burned in his car. Similar to Joshua, police were not able to identify suspects or a motive for his death.
The deaths of Edward Crawford, Marshawn McCarrel, and Danye Jones were ruled as suicides, as Crawford and McCarrel shot themselves and Jones was found hanging from a tree in his backyard in October 2017. Although Jones’ death was ruled a suicide, his mother, Melissa McKinnies, insisted he had been lynched as a result of her own activism.
With two cold case murders and three apparent suicides, people have begun to suspect that those who were a part of the Ferguson protests are being targeted. This relates to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has received much backlash because it is said to be motivated with violence and fueled by discrimination. This backlash aroused from protests and riots where activists were seen holding Black Lives Matter signs and wearing apparel with the same slogan. Some suggest it should be changed to All Lives Matter, while others have even compared the movement to that of the Ku Klux Klan. The Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in response to the fatal death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. What initially started as a hashtag on social media has blossomed into a social movement that strives to seek justice for the Black community while emphasizing the fact that African American lives are equally important.
The number of people connected to the Ferguson riots that have died is alarming and raises suspicion amongst the activist community. The deaths of these five black men calls into question whether these deaths were truly random or whether activists are being targeted.