We, Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine, condemn the police murder of Michael Brown. We condemn the failure of the St. Louis County Police Department to hold Darren Wilson accountable for murdering Michael, continuing the crisis of police and vigilantes killing one black person every 28 hours. We condemn the use of dogs, SWAT teams, and military equipment against unarmed protestors, who are largely African American, and are demanding to be heard and treated as human beings. We condemn the new atrocities unfolding day after day.
The police’s actions against the community of Ferguson, Missouri have drawn widespread shock, as well as the notice and solidarity of many Palestinians. St. Louis Police have used many of the same tactics the Israeli military uses on Palestinians, including the deployment of tear gas (an illegal weapon in international warfare) as “domestic riot control,” pointing assault rifles at large groups of people, including children, blocking anyone from entering or leaving Ferguson, and setting curfews–all in the name of “safety,” all for control. And meanwhile, the mainstream American media continues to attempt to malign Michael Brown’s character, and to downplay the significance of yet another police murder.
The mainstream US media has been very slow to care about Black people in Ferguson. There are too many eyewitnesses saying that Brown was unarmed and compliant for the media to blame his death on his own actions – so instead they have slandered his character implicitly, choosing to feed the racist fear of Black people through the use of racially loaded headlines and photos. In addition, they have enabled the Ferguson PD’s leaking of surveillance footage that allegedly shows Brown at a convenience store prior to the shooting, even though the chief of police said that Officer Wilson had no knowledge of this when he accosted and killed Brown. All of these actions by the media are consistent with the active construction of racism and with placing the burden of proof on the unarmed and murdered victim. It took individual Black people responding and coordinating on social media to bring this trend into question.
We recognize that the struggles in Ferguson and Palestine are interconnected, but are not to be conflated. Militarization of American police is one of many tactics used in a quest to control Black people that has been ongoing since before the founding of the United States. In St. Louis in particular, Mike Brown’s murder was not the beginning of police violence. St. Louis County Police Chief Timothy Fitch’s participation in a “counter-terrorism” training in Israel was not the beginning of the force’s militarization. The racist actions of St. Louis County Police are not new in St. Louis, nor are similar actions new anywhere in the United States.
We express our solidarity with those in the black community who have been affected by police brutality. As an organization, we are committed to working to dismantle systems of oppression and state-sponsored violence, especially when it is based on factors such as race and ethnicity. As fellow students, we offer our compassion on a more personal level. We would like to express our continued appreciation to Stanford NAACP and the Black Student Union for acting in solidarity with SJP in the past, and wish to affirm our commitment to working on joint campaigns against racism and violence in the future.
Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine