Three years have passed since 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Darren Wilson—a white police officer—on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, MO.
157 weeks ago, Brown’s mother, his family members, close friends and neighbors, strangers passing by and virtual witnesses, stood watch over his body. Brown was struck at least six times by bullets, two of which hit him in the head. His body—stained with blood and lacking life—remained barely covered on Canfield for four hours under the blazing summer sun.
It’s been nearly 1,096 days since Mike Brown’s death was explained away as a necessary intervention, an act justified by the “reasonable belief” Wilson needed to shoot the unarmed teen because he feared for his life, a performance of aggression enacted upon a Black person, a human being who Wilson would later describe as a “demon” during his grand jury testimony.
Nearly 26,304 hours since New York Times’ writer John Eligon described Brown as “no angel.” Because we are to assume most teens are? It’s been many hours since activists in Ferguson commanded the streets in protests that would last for over 100 days. Many hours since people—whose rage has been aimed at a law enforcement system that overwhelmingly targets Black people—took to the streets across the country. Many hours since Ferguson activists, and not the police who tear-gassed and beat and harassed and arrested and jailed them, were called thugs.
Almost 1,578,240 minutes since journalists like, Jonathan Capehart, contended Black activists picked the wrong dead representative as the poster child of their burgeoning movement. “Hands up, Don’t Shoot,” Capehart argued in a Washington Post column, was a lie. He went on to admonish those standing under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” to “…never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong.” But those of us in the U.S., the honest among us, know right and wrong are rarely the factors governing extrajudicial killings of black people by law enforcement here, in this country, where Blackness has always qualified as fundamentally criminal whether Black people have committed wrongful acts or not, death by shooting, outside of the court of law, almost always occur without recompense.
But every second Ferguson activists disrupted the everyday display of anti-Black apathy in their city, and around the country, was a ripple that helped to shift public policy and transform the consciousness of a people.
94,694,400 seconds. And too many moments of heartrending sadness since Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., mother and father of the deceased Brown, were thrust abruptly into the spotlight as activist spokespersons among a special group of Black parents who, we know, would have preferred the presence of the warm and alive bodies of their now dead Black children over the cameras streaming their indescribable pain.
Time is a measure of progress, a marker of the seconds we’ve gained and lost, a field through which we are birthed, a dimension through which we pass through and away. Sometimes time ticks and is taking from us. But every second Ferguson activists disrupted the everyday display of anti-Black apathy in their city, and around the country, was a ripple that helped to shift public policy and transform the consciousness of a people.
Today, at this moment, in this time, we remember Michael Brown Jr. We remember the time. 12:01 p.m. When Mike was still alive. 12:02 p.m. When Mike was shot. We remember his parents and family. And their 94,694,400 seconds of grief and remembrance. We remember his neighbors and friends. And the 1,578,240 minutes that forever marked change in their lives. We remember the Ferguson activists. 26,304 hours since they were called to demonstrate their love for Black people. We remember 12:03 p.m. A moment that ushered in insurgent Black protest. And we won’t forget. Not today. Not tomorrow. Ever.