On Monday night, November 24, television sets across the U.S. were tuned into a live feed from St. Louis, Missouri, where we watched prosecutor Robert McCulloch announce that a Ferguson grand jury would not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
27-year-old Ferguson resident Darren Seals — who has led several local protests with Hands Up United, the organization he co-founded after Brown was killed — was standing next to Michael Brown’s mother when the decision came down. Here is his personal account of those events, as told to MTV News.
“I was actually outside of the Ferguson police department headquarters, standing on top of a car with Mike Brown’s mother and some friends – all the people who have protested and fought with us. We were in the middle of the street and there were a lot of cameras around, CNN and [other outlets].
We already knew what the decision would be, but at the same time it still hurt to hear it. [Darren Wilson] got married right before the decision, so that’s how we knew he wasn’t going to jail. That was the ultimate slap in the face.
And for Mike Brown’s mother to be right there in my arms crying — she literally cried in my arms — it was like I felt her soul crying. It’s a different type of crying. I’ve seen people crying, but she was really hurt. And it hurt me. It hurt all of us.
I don’t recall anyone having a longer protest, a more productive protest, a more creative protest than what we did. I don’t think people will ever really appreciate what we did until years from now. We really did the best we could.
[Mike Brown’s family] is not a family of revolutionaries — this is a family of black people who grew up in the inner city and didn’t have the best education on these topics.
It’s easy to kill black people because we’re the have-nots. We’re at the bottom of the totem pole. What people don’t understand is, we actually live in a nightmare. We actually live in a place where gunshots [are normal]. We hear gunshots everyday.
We plan to rally more and protest more, but the long-term goal: We’re trying to use all the resources we gained from this to educate people, because we all know the system will never change. Black men being killed by police and not going to jail for it – it’s been going on for years and it’s not going to stop.
Our long-term goal is to educate young black men and young black women throughout the world on how to deal with police brutality, how to deal with the police, how to deal with traffic stops and learn their rights.
We don’t educate them on those things now. They don’t teach them that in school, and a lot of their parents don’t know these things because they were never taught. So the goal is to teach people how to avoid those situations, that way another Mike Brown situation won't occur. We’re trying to prevent the next Mike Brown before it happens, through music, through writing, speaking at schools, talking to the kids and just educating them.
People who are not from our community don’t understand that Missouri [is filled with] oppressed people. That’s why we’ve got a lot of heart to fight this battle. We’ve been taught to fight our whole lives. They will literally have to shoot us down in the streets for us to stop fighting [for this cause].
Police brutality is going on everywhere, this is nothing new, but everyone talks about what we should do, and no one actually does it. For the first time we actually did every step – we marched, we protested, we voted – we did some historical things. We did everything they said we should do. We spread awareness, we kept it positive, we kept it peaceful. For 108 days, we did everything they told us we should do and we didn’t get one day in court. We did all of that and didn’t get ONE day in court.
What’s a civil suit going to do? Give us a little money? That’s just a pacifier. Make [it safe] for a couple of days? A couple of months? Maybe a year or two, before they kill the next Mike Brown somewhere? Maybe not even in St. Louis, it might be in Chicago, Memphis, anywhere. It’s a pacifier. We don’t want a civil suit, that’s not going to do anything. After Trayvon Martin…guess what? Cary Ball died. Mike Brown died. Eric Garner died."
Along with a local group called D.O.A., Darren Seals wrote the below tribute song to Mike Brown called "Born Targets."