As we near the 2015 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots does it equate with the Michael Brown shooting. The Super Bowl has created energy that will be talked about for years to come. In comparison, the Michael Brown shooting will be discussed ass the Super Bowl of racism for many generations.

The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the resultant protests and civil unrest received considerable attention in the U.S. and abroad, and sparked a vigorous debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans, and police use of force doctrine in Missouri and nationwide.

After the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl victory there is some civil unrest. According to The Seattle Times, two men were shot and wounded near the of the Pioneer Square. Bottles and rocks were thrown at Seattle police, and the windows of businesses were broken out, said police spokesman Mark Jamieson.

Like the aftermath of the Seahawk Super Bowl victory, there was an aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. On August 9, the evening of the shooting, residents had created a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles in the spot where Brown died. An unidentified officer reportedly allowed the dog under his control to urinate on the memorial. Police vehicles later crushed the memorial. These incidents inflamed tensions among bystanders, according to Missouri state Rep. Sharon Pace, who told Mother Jones, “That made people in the crowd mad and it made me mad. They looted, burned-out QuikTrip gas station in Ferguson.

On August 10, a day of memorials began peacefully, but some crowd members became unruly after an evening candlelight vigil. Local police stations assembled approximately 150 officers in riot gear. Some people began looting businesses, vandalizing vehicles, and confronting police officers who sought to block off access to several areas of the city. At least 12 businesses were looted or vandalized and a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station was set on fire, leading to over 30 arrests. Many windows were broken and several nearby businesses closed on Monday. The people arrested face charges of assault, burglary, and theft. Police used a variety of equipment, including riot gear and helicopters, to disperse the crowd by 2:00 a.m. Two police officers suffered minor injuries during the events.

On August 11, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd at the burnt shell of the QuikTrip convenience store, set on fire by looters the night before. According to reports, gunshots were fired in Ferguson and five people were arrested. Some protesters threw rocks at police officers. The police responded by firing tear gas and bean bag rounds upon those protesting, which included state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal.

On August 12, several hundred protesters gathered in Clayton, the county seat, seeking criminal prosecution of the officer involved in the shooting. Protesters in Ferguson carried signs and many held their hands in the air while shouting “don’t shoot!” According to police, some protesters threw bottles at the officers, prompting the use of tear gas to disperse the crowd. The following day, a SWAT team of around 70 officers arrived at a protest demanding that protesters disperse. That night, police used smoke bombs, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Video footage of the events recorded by KARG Argus Radio shows Ferguson Police firing tear gas into a residential neighborhood and ordering the journalist to cease recording.

As night fell on August 13, protesters threw projectiles, including Molotov cocktails, and police launched tear gas and smoke bombs. While police were clearing a McDonald’s restaurant, The Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilley were arrested. Al Jazeera America journalists including correspondent Ash-har Quraishi covering the protests in Ferguson on Wednesday night were also tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets by a police SWAT team.

In the evening hours of August 14, Captain Johnson walked with and led a large, peaceful march in Ferguson.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson announced the name of the officer involved in the shooting in a news conference the morning of Friday, August 15, nearly a week after the officer shot Brown on Saturday afternoon. On Friday night, protests continued in “an almost celebratory manner” near the QuikTrip until police arrived at around 11:00 p.m. At around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, rioters broke into and looted the Ferguson Market & Liquor store that Brown allegedly robbed prior to his shooting, as well as other nearby businesses; after the initial break-in, a group of protesters and observers gathered near the storefronts of the looted businesses in an attempt to prevent further looting.

As a result of looting and disruption the night before, on August 16, Nixon declared in a press conference a state of emergency and implemented nightly curfews in Ferguson from midnight to 5:00 a.m.

In the early hours of August 17, tear gas and tactical units were used, despite prior assurances. One of the protesters was shot and critically wounded; police have claimed that they did not fire any shots. Seven other individuals were arrested. Later that morning, a Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman announced that the curfew would be extended for a second day.

On August 18, after violent clashes during the imposed curfew, Nixon issued an executive order calling in the National Guard to “help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson.” Nixon also announced that there would be no curfew on the night of August 18.

On the night of August 18, after several hundred protesters, some of whom were seen throwing bottles, charged toward a wall of police 60 wide and five deep, members of the crowd pushed them back including clergymen and community leaders locking arms, averting a more serious confrontation. Seventy-eight individuals were arrested, including The Intercept‘s Ryan Devereaux. German journalists Ansgar Graw and Frank Hermann reported being placed under arrest by an unidentified officer who would only identify himself as “Donald Duck”.

On August 20, Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to Ferguson, where he met with residents as well as Brown’s family. Only six individuals were arrested, compared to 47 arrests the prior night. Nixon then withdrew the National Guard from Ferguson on August 21 after witnessing improvements among the social unrest. On August 23, protests continued to be peaceful, although three more arrests were made. During the same day, a rally of 50 to 70 people was held in Ferguson in support of Wilson under the banner “I am Darren Wilson”, and as of August 25, nearly US$400,000 were raised by supporters in an online crowdfunding campaign. The online campaign drew a number of racist comments, which forced the website to shut down the comment section.

The Super Bowl of racism continued in to the month of September. Early on September 23, a memorial to Michael Brown on Canfield Drive burned to the ground. Protesters gathered at the site. Later on the same day, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson released a video apology to the Brown family. The burned memorial was set up again.

That evening, several hundreds of protesters gathered, asking for Jackson’s resignation, in front of the police headquarters, protected by 50 police officers Jackson joined the protest and started to explain that changes were underway after Brown’s killing, creating some agitation in the crowd. Within minutes, police officers intervened to protect their chief. Several protesters were arrested and later the protest was declared unlawful.

On September 26, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division asked Jackson to prohibit police officers from wearing “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets when on duty. In a previous letter earlier that week, it had asked that police officers wear nametags.

On the evening of September 28, a large crowd protested. Bottles and rocks were thrown at officers. Support from other police forces was requested. Eight protesters were arrested on failure to disperse and resisting arrest charges. As most are first-time offenders, they will be released without bond.

On September 29, protesters gathered in front of the police building, including a dozen clergy members who prayed in the police parking. They were told that they would be arrested if they did not clear the street. A clergyman was then arrested. Protesters were also told that they would be arrested if the chants went on after 11:00 p.m. About that time, police moved slowly forward, but protesters refused to move backwards. As they were almost in contact, gunshots were heard, and both sides backed up. Later, Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol told the crowd that the “five-second rule” would not be implemented and there would be no arrest as long as the protest remained peaceful.

Just as we thought the Super Bowl of racism was finished, it continued in to the month of October. On October 2, St. Louis County Police and Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested more than a dozen people, including Mary Moore, a freelance journalist who has worked for CNN. Protesters were charged with offenses that included failure to comply with police, noise ordinance violations and resisting arrest. They had to wear orange jumpsuits. Bonds were highest at $2,700, then reduced to $1,000.

On October 3, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson ceded responsibility for managing protests in the city to the St. Louis County police department. The limited resources of Ferguson police made it difficult to handle daily protests after their resumption the previous week.

On October 4, about 50 protesters briefly delayed a concert of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Just before the performance resumed after intermission, they started singing an old civil rights tune, unfurled three hand-painted banners and scattered paper hearts that read: “Requiem for Mike Brown”. After that, they left the building peacefully.

On Monday evening, October 6, after a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball supporters and protesters had a chanting battle outside the stadium.

A website, Ferguson October, as well as other organizations, planned a massive week of resistance throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. The event, Ferguson October, began on Friday afternoon when protesters peacefully marched to County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s office in Clayton, Missouri. Later until around 2:30 a.m., mostly peaceful protests took place in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood. As many as 400 people took to the streets on Friday night.

On October 9, 2014, Ferguson October sparked the activation of the St. Louis County Emergency Center in anticipation. Police are also working longer shifts and the Missouri National Guard can be activated if needed.

On October 12, 2014, a Ferguson October rally and service was held at Chaifetz Arena. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clergy addressed the crowd. Younger activists criticized older activists for not being radical enough. When the keynote speaker, Cornel West, took the stage, he said, “I didn’t come here to give a speech. I came here to go to jail!”

On October 13, 2014, protesters attempted to cross police lines to meet with officers at the Ferguson Police Department. Dozens of protesters (over 50) were arrested, during a staged and peaceful act of disobedience, including clergy and Cornel West.

On October 20, Missouri Senator Jamilah Nasheed was arrested in front of the Ferguson Police Department building for blocking traffic in the street and not respecting police orders. She was taken into custody, along with a man who was accompanying her, and refused bond.

The Super Bowl of racism continued into the month of November. On November 17, the governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency in anticipation of protests in Ferguson following the announcement of the results of the grand jury.

On November 21, two alleged members of the New Black Panther Party were arrested for buying explosives they planned to detonate during protests. The same pair is also indicted for purchasing two pistols under false pretenses.

On November 24, the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in the shooting death of Brown. Following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, Michael Brown’s stepfather Louis Head yelled to the crowd of protesters in front of the police department: “Burn this bitch down!” There were peaceful protests as well as rioting. A dozen buildings were burned down; there was gunfire, looting, vandalism, and destruction of two St. Louis County Police patrol cars, as well as burning of various non-police cars. Police in Ferguson deployed tear gas and ordered protesters in the street to disperse. There were 61 people arrested in Ferguson on charges including burglary and trespassing. In one case, firefighters evacuated the scene of a fire due to gunshots being heard, and for the same reason could not respond to other fires.

On November 25, the body of 20-year-old DeAndre Joshua was found inside a parked car within a few blocks of where Brown was killed. Police initially classified the death as suspicious, later ruling it a homicide. The man had been shot in the head and burned. That same day, CNN reported that thousands of people rallied to protest the grand jury’s decision in more than 170 U.S. cities from Boston to Los Angeles, and that National Guard forces were reinforced at Ferguson to prevent the situation from escalating. At least 90 people were arrested for arson, looting, and vandalism in Oakland, California. Protests also took place internationally, with demonstrations held in several major cities in Canada and in London, United Kingdom. Calls by protesters to boycott the Black Friday shopping day, which took place the Friday after the grand jury decision, were heeded in the St. Louis region, with hundreds of demonstrators disrupting shopping activity at the Saint Louis Galleria and other area shopping centers.

On November 27, Governor Nixon reportedly rejected calls for a new grand jury to decide whether to charge Wilson over Brown’s killing.

The aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting lasted for four months which sparked protests around the world. The Martin Luther King march did not spark as much activity which qualifies the Michael Brown shooting as the Super Bowl of racism.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
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One thought on “What was the Super Bowl of racism in 2014?”

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