Last Saturday, Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown, multiple times, killing him. Since then, the situation in Ferguson has been ever-changing. Protests and vigils were initially met with an intense response from the police, who were outfitted with paramilitary equipment.
Eventually, Missouri Governor Jay Dixon relieved the Ferguson Police of handling the situation, placing the demonstrations under control of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
While all eyes are on Ferguson, the shooting of an unarmed black man by law enforcement is a phenomenon that happens all across the country. USA Today reported that on average there were 96 cases of a white police officer killing a black person each year between 2006 and 2012, based on justifiable homicides reported to the FBI by local police, and that number only includes convicted felons—not people like Brown and Eric Garner, with no felony convictions. A report by Mother Jones breaks the situation down by state, and includes the low rate of conviction for these officers.
This week on Strange Fruit, St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann, and Bridjes O’Neil of the St. Louis American join hosts Dr. Kaila Story and Jaison Gardner from Ferguson to explain what happened there, and talk about the community’s history of tension with its police force.
Here in Louisville, we speak with Councilwoman Attica Scott, whose op-ed in The Courier-Journal this week described the fear involved in raising black sons. “People need to understand that police officers are paid by taxpayer dollars,” she said. “The budget is reviewed and approved by some local government to then pay these individuals to kill our babies. And that’s not okay.”
The Ferguson aftermath and investigation continues to develop, so watch our twitter for updates: @strangefruitpod.
And we also welcome our new radio listeners this week. Strange Fruit can now be heard on 89.3 WFPL in Louisville (and live streaming at wfpl.org) on Saturday nights at 10 p.m., just after The Tavis Smiley Show.