‘We’re Tired of Police Judging Us’—St. Louis Resident Opens Up About Police, Protests & Mike Brown (Video)
While on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, to cover the aftermath of the killing of Mike Brown by police, I had the privilege of being introduced to Kerry, a young black man and resident of the St. Louis area. He agreed to speak to me about his experiences.
We recorded the interview on August 21, days after some of the worst and most intense police violence that had occurred.
Kerry was out on the first day. Demonstrators wanted to march from the scene of the shooting on Canfield Drive by the apartment complex to the Ferguson police station. Police setup a line to block the upset community from marching anywhere.
“Riots started because we wasn’t getting our freedom,” Kerry suggested. If the rioting wouldn’t have happened…we wouldn’t have all this media here.”
“I’m not with the rioting. I’ve got kids of my own. I’m not with the rioting. I’m totally against it. But it happened and now look what’s happened. We finally got the light that we need to this tragic murder that happened for nothing.”
A couple days later, he noted that Kajieme Powell, another young black man, was gunned down by St. Louis police. He was close enough that Kerry believed the police could have used a taser and not shot him.
Kerry commented on the fact that Officer Darren Wilson had not been arrested yet:
True enough, it’s a process, as they say. But take it from our perspective. It’s a black police officer who shoots a white teen six times. Where would he be? It’d be a whole different situation. [And I’ll] go ahead and say he’d be locked up, no questions asked. So there is a difference right there.
“I’m tired. I’m tired of the black man being treated the way they getting treated. It’s just been going on for so, so long,” Kerry shared. “We want to be treated equal. When we go out for a job interview, don’t look at us cause you may think that we’re a thug. You’re automatically judging us before you even get to know us. And, as a kid, was you taught to sit down and know somebody before you judge them?
“That’s basically what the police do is judge us.”
Asked about the huge presence of media, he said they were needed, but “they’re not putting out the whole story.” Referring to violence, he said it doesn’t start “from us throwing out a bottle first. It starts with the police shooting tear gas at us first.”
“I want to see justice, justice first of all. I want to see equality,” Kerry explained. “I want to be able to take my kids somewhere without being harassed and pulled over and pulled out [of] the car with my wife and kids in the car.”
He recounted an instance where he had been thrown on the hood of his car in front of his wife and kids and embarrassed in front of his family as police harassed him.
“I can tell you more and more stories about how the police just harass me as a black man. So just imagine all the black men in America that’s going through this.”
Brown’s death lit a spark, but everything is much “bigger than him right now,” Kerry argued.
“It’s about education. It’s about jobs. It’s about walking these streets as a young black man, old black man, middle-aged black man, just as a black man period.” And, it is about being able to drive and not get harassed and pulled over by police while you’re with two or three friends because police say they heard you are a suspect and they got a call about someone in the area.
“This life that we live is hard. It’s hard to be a black man in America.” People do not want to be treated like they are “animals” anymore.