When the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson came through, Frankie told me what he thought: “I’m outraged and the people that I hang around are outraged because they keep getting away with certain things. We not finna let them get away this time…Missouri is the show-me state. We ain’t doing no talking. We’re gonna show them…Muhfuckas ain’t gonna keep taking this bullshit. I know I ain’t gonna keep taking no bullshit. They keep killing our brothers out here. This is our race.”
All Frankie knows is black people are either dying or disappearing. His cousin: in prison with two life sentences. His brother: killed a week before our second interview. Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Tamir Rice, and John Crawford III, over the span of a few months. I ask Frankie how he’s doing. “Hurting,” he says, looking down at his hands, his shoulders hunched. “Hurting real bad.”
It’s a feeling shared by a lot of protesters, who refused to suffer in silence. If they had to feel the pain, the rest of the world should feel it, too. Or as someone borrowed from Katniss and tagged on a St. Louis landmark in the Shaw neighborhood, “If we burn, you burn with us.”
The community work Frankie has been doing for the past 10 years includes mentoring, providing people with jobs and child support, setting people up with GED classes, and getting amnesty for people with traffic warrants. He hopes to continue this work with a group called the Mighty 13, made up of 12 other men he met while protesting in August. The group will help people who have run-ins with the law, set people up with job opportunities and other resources, and survey people regarding the issues they’re concerned with in the neighborhood. But in Ferguson, the collective outcry that began in August and has lasted for over 100 days was more than the trauma of a few hours. The ingredients to make St. Louis boil over have been adding up for years.
Read More | “The Protester” | Raven Rakia | Matter