Overnight in America protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, again have taken to the streets in sadness and in anger after a grand jury revealed their decision not to pursue charges against police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed 18-year-old unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in August. Joining the protestors in their cry for justice were many key figures in the US music community.
Perhaps the most resounding response to the verdict came from rapper Killer Mike, one half of hip-hop duo Run The Jewels, who were due to take the stage in St. Louis, just a few kilometres away from the town of Ferguson, and just a mere few hours after the verdict was delivered.
Prior to kicking off the show, Killer Mike delivered an emotional speech to those gathered in the room, sharing the impact the decision had on him personally and on the future of America in general.
“I just gotta tell you today that, man, no matter how much we do it, no matter how much we get shit together, shit comes along and kicks you on your ass, and you don’t feel like a champion,” he began. “So tonight, I got kicked on my ass when I listened to that prosecutor.”
“You kicked me on my ass today,” continued an emotional Mike, fighting back tears as his parter El-P stood by his side. “Because I have a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old son, and I’m so afraid for them today.”
He concluded his emotional speech by referencing the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s not about race, it’s not about class, it is not about colour, it is about what they killed [Michael Brown] for. It is about poverty, it is about greed, and it is about a war machine…the one thing I want you to know is that it is us against the motherfucking machine.”
Other figures in the music community also spoke out about the jury’s decision not to indict the police officer. “I’m heartbroken over the news of no indictment in Ferguson. Let’s all pray for peace,” Pharrell Williams tweeted.
Q-Tip posted a series of tweets on the verdict with one reading, “No value for black life. But they extrapolate our magic, sweat, our voice our fire…And leave us stripped of our right to exist.” He later participated in a protest march in Times Square. Macklemore took part in a protest on the frontline in Ferguson which, according to Rolling Stone, eventually turned violent and forced the local highway to shut down.
Beyonce chose to use her preferred social media outlet, Instagram, to share a photo of the statement released by Mike Brown’s family which begins with the words, “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,” and pleads for peaceful protests against the jury’s decision.
Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello already shared his protest song Marching on Ferguson earlier this year and in response to yesterday’s verdict tweeted a succinct, “Baseball, apple pie, decisions like this. #Merica”. He later added that all bandcamp donations to his protest compilation album This Concerns Everyone, will go towards the Ferguson Legal Defense Fund.
See Killer Mike’s emotional speech below as well as reactions from other members of the music community.
Watch: Killer Mike’s pre-show Ferguson Grand Jury speech
No matter what happens today in Ferguson/STL, stay organized, stay active, stay police'n the police! Never Stop. Never take a day off.
— Killer Mike (@KillerMike) November 24, 2014
— Killer Mike (@KillerMike) November 25, 2014
the D.A never represented the people properly. He never wanted an indictment. violent ones in the streets are likely those who didn't vote
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) November 25, 2014
I'm heartbroken over the news of no indictment in Ferguson. Let's all pray for peace.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) November 25, 2014
Facts are facts. I don't have them all. But I do know I fear for the lives of Black American males. This is my reality.
— Lecrae (@lecrae) November 25, 2014
Baseball, apple pie, decisions like this. #Merica
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) November 25, 2014
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) November 25, 2014
— Big Boi (@BigBoi) November 25, 2014
Feeling stuck all the way over here in Sydney seeing the news just now… Sending my prayers to Ferguson & praying for an equal America.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 25, 2014
The system that instills & protects white supremacy wins again. Humanity loses…No justice. I pray for Mike Brown & his family. So sad.
— Macklemore (@macklemore) November 25, 2014