Six men connected to protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown have turned up dead, and despite law enforcement’s insistence that none are tied to the protests, local activists are not so sure.
Protest leaders told the Kansas City Star that even 4 ½ years later, they continue receiving threats linked to their protest of the 18-year-old’s death.
Rev. Darryl Gray told the newspaper that everyone “is on pins and needles,” and that he himself once had to call police after he found a box inside his car, fearing it contained a bomb.
There were no explosives, but the box did contain a 6-foot python, he said.
The police have said just two of the six deaths were deemed homicides, though no arrests have been made. Three of the deaths were ruled suicides, and one man who collapsed on a bus was said to have overdosed.
The first death came not long after Brown was killed, which happened in August 2014 during a confrontation on the street with officer Darren Wilson. Brown was unarmed, but Wilson said he feared for his life when Brown approached him menacingly.
The shooting was followed by protests.
In November 2014, after a grand jury declined to charge Wilson, the city saw “one of the most violent nights of demonstrations,” the Star reported, as well as the death of 20-year-old Deandre Joshua.
Joshua’s body was found inside a burned vehicle, and it was determined he had been shot in the head before the car was set ablaze.
A second activist was found dead, also inside a burned car, in September 2016. Darren Seals, a 29-year-old who was seen comforting Brown’s mother in a video, had been shot numerous times before the car was torched.
The Star noted that MarShawn McCarrel of Ohio, who shot himself in 2016; Edward Crawford Jr., who shot himself in 2017; Danye Jones, who was found hanging from a tree; and Bassem Masri, who overdosed on fentanyl, all had their deaths ruled as suicides.
Jones’ mother, Melissa McKinnies — who was also active in the Ferguson protests — wrote on Facebook after his death that, “They lynched my baby.”
Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests, told the Star that she has been targeted due to her activism, at times in rather dangerous ways.
"Something is happening," she said. "I've been vocal about the things that I've experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts."
She also told the Star that “her car has been run off the road, her home has been vandalized, and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time.”
Still, she continues to use her voice.
"They shut us up and they win," Bush said.
Image credit: Screengrab/ABC 13 Houston/YouTube