by Black Agenda Report editor Margaret Kimberley
“Ferguson signifies the end of the age of Obama. It is a very sad end.” – Cornel West
“For Wilson to publicly say that he would kill Brown again is too much for a grieving people to bear.” For nearly six years black Americans have supported President Barack Obama overwhelmingly, only to be treated with disdain. He has gotten away with this disrespect because of misplaced allegiance to racial solidarity and racist attacks against him.
But the day of reckoning may have arrived via Ferguson, Missouri.The non-indictment for the killing of Michael Brown may well be the catalyst for a much needed change. Not only did Wilson get away with murder, but like Emmett Till’s killers sixty years ago, he brags about it to the press. A prosecutor who was clearly uninterested in getting an indictment was bad enough. But for Wilson to publicly say that he would kill Brown again is too much for a grieving people to bear. The protests in Ferguson and across the country have awakened the long dormant spirit of resistance that has been an important part of our history. Obama’s sleight of hand distractions have finally worn thin. A meeting with “civil rights leaders” was desperate window dressing meant to quiet the grass roots protests but the game is up. Attorney General Eric Holder discovered as much when protesters interrupted his speech at the Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta. The same tired nostrums no longer work for Obama and company. At long last the presence of the first black president and the first black attorney general aren’t enough to command obedient silence.
The usual excuses now ring hollow. There are no more presidential campaigns or mid-term elections for Obama and his minions to use as rationales for throwing black people under the bus. There is no congressional approval required for the Justice Department to move forward. The only person standing in the way of federal prosecution is Obama himself and the masses of black people know it.
In the week since the grand jury announcement was made, Barack Obama has done nothing but insult the intelligence of millions of black people. His grand announcement for federal funding of police body cameras should be met with loud derision. After all of the hope placed in Obama, the end result of his presidency is nothing but a proposal that every school child knows.
The constitutional lawyer in chief who commanded such love and loyalty once again comes up empty when black people are in need.
There is nothing mysterious or complicated about improving police and community relations. There is no need for more task forces or advisory commissions. The police must stop killing black people with impunity and nothing will make that less likely to happen than the sight of Wilson and his partners in crime sitting in federal prisons.
The cry of protests must remain loud but also quite clear. There must be a unified call for federal prosecution. No one should be confused by obfuscation and lies from a president who acts when he wants to. If he wants money for the Ukrainian government, it appears. If there is renewed combat in Afghanistan, there is money to pay for it. If he wants to kill Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, then Eric Holder makes up nonsense about due process that no other legal expert knew existed. Conversely, there is plenty of case law to support a federal civil rights prosecution. George H.W. Bush did it in 1992 after the police acquittal in the Rodney King beating case and Obama can do the same in 2014.
The Obama apologists may have been diminished slightly but they haven’t disappeared. The black political class doesn’t yet have a disincentive to speak up for the people they claim to represent. While they stick their fingers in the wind, the rest of us know that at any moment we may end up like Michael Brown’s family, or Eric Garner’s or John Crawford’s.
Instead of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” protesters must turn to a very simple, one word chant. “Prosecute!” Every time Eric Holder or Barack Obama or a high profile misleader turns up in public they must be met with this very simple demand. If a black president and attorney general leave office without doing anything about the legacy of white on black police crime, their tenure in office was a waste.
What do we have to show for Obama’s presidency? We have privatized schools, the ruin of Detroit, endless war, a profit driven health care system, austerity programs and a people who were played for fools. Now the bloom is off the rose, and the fooling should be over. The end of the age of Obama is a very good thing indeed.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at https://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.