hip hop ferguson mike brown

Did Hip-Hop Fuel The Uprising In Ferguson? Holla If Ya Hear Me!


Did Hip-Hop fuel the uprising in Ferguson? One professional and resident of nearby St. Louis, Missouri tells AllHipHop about the transformation within a small, sleepy town. And himself.

Over the course of the past two weeks, I have born witness to a transformative event in American history. It took place right here in Ferguson, Missouri, 15 minutes away from where I live here in St. Louis. And it started with the courage shown by a handful of black youth who decided that enough was enough and they had power to draw a line in the sand. They have inspired me.

In the 60’s the technology used against civilians who protested against racial injustice in public was limited to batons, police dogs, and water hoses. It is no surprise that over 50 years later the technology is updated. They used sonar sirens designed to create pain and fear in the listener, tear gas, rubber bullets, tasers and pepper spray. These are weapons of violence and modern warfare. The injuries they inflict caused serious, possibly long term injuries.

Rubber Bullet Wound

Police used airplanes and drones, they shouted threats, they pointed guns and rifles directly at the people. Almost all of these were unwarranted assaults on peaceful demonstrators and probably violated both the people’s constitutional and human rights. All of them were attempts to intimidate the protesters. They failed miserably.
“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”

The protesters endured and gained courage from chanting their slogan, a tribute to the last action that Mike Brown took in his life. While that chant was in the air, I witnessed things I have never witnessed before. I witnessed protesters showing no fear while huge guns were pointed at them and angry, red faced police shouted threats at them. I witnessed on multiple occasions police run in fear from groups of protesters with simply their hands up expressing their desire for justice—youth with just their empty hands against men armed with heavy artillery and apparent carte blanche to use them as they saw fit—and the protesters had the courage and the police scuttled away in fear and cowardice.

“And the Punk Police Can’t Fade Me”—Tupac

Music plays an important part in this too. “We Shall not be moved” is the name of the old “Negro Spiritual” that protesters sang as they faced down the Bull Connor’s of the world during the civil rights movement. The protesters were also inspirationally unmoved in the face of great violence being brought upon them, but the soundtrack for this did not include Negro Spirituals. I went to the strip in Ferguson almost every day that first week, and mostly I heard lots of Tupac, with some Bob Marley sprinkled in and Lil Boosie song about the police. Narratives about police violence against the community have a long history in Hip-Hop, so the intersection of the facts on the ground with the Hip Hop worldview was seamless. For example, the 20 year old Tupac songs I kept hearing did not just happen to be what was on the radio at the time, but for this generation this was their soul music and spoke to their experiences directly.

“Pump Your fists like this”

This uprising was unplanned, unanticipated, and unsponsored by the local activist/church/ non-profit organization infrastructure. It was raw. In reality, this probably could never had happened with a functioning civil society infrastructure directing it—it was too dangerous, too disrespectful, too angry a moment. But the pattern of police violence against the black community over the generations has a gaping wound, and people see their struggle as one that implicates questions of life and death—no time for politeness. At the same time, there was a real sense of pride and unity in the community. St. Louis is a town looked over by many, seen as a blip on the map. At least for a moment, they had gained worldwide notoriety for standing up against injustice, and the world was on their side.

“Keep running”

Those were the last words that Mike Brown ever said, spoken to his friend before a police officer ended his life by putting a bullet into his skull. It is a mythic moment. Just like Mike Brown’s last act of throwing his hands up organically emerged as an easy to remember, empowering, even catchy chant that has swept around the world, his last two words apply not only to his friend but to all of us. We are now in a race. This moment could become a movement against racial violence, racial profiling, and police brutality. Or it could simply stay a moment in time, crippled from moving forward by an ineffectual civil rights infrastructure in the region, and national leadership too diffuse and “old school” to capture the energy of a Hip-Hop led resistance. It’s up to the youth to lead us here.

Follow: @Blackstarjus.

Images courtesy of Marvin Bing of the NAACP@jaheezus aka jahi chikwendiu, Malik of Occupy The Hood and Instagram

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  • Markus

    Hip hop didn’t fuel the uprising in Ferguson. A child’s execution did. Devils particularly those given badges are narrow minded. They see young people in the stereotypical uniform they believe all black men wear and judge an entire culture on that. As far as they’re concerned all black men wear white t-shirts,pants hanging off their asses with plaid underwear and the latest Jordans out. They listen to them repeat their favorite rap songs and think everyone listens to the same. They cross paths with one idiot and the culture gets branded as such. There are a lot of things screwed up with the youth today but the last thing needed is racists casting their preconceived notions on every single kid based on a few run ins with those who don’t speak for every one of those kids. Peer pressure is higher than ever these days with gangs and doing drugs to fit in but there are those out there who don’t fall victim to it and stand on their own. Listening to music and presuming you know an entire culture’s characteristics isn’t very smart. But no one would accuse devils of possessing intelligence either.

    • Casor_Greener

      Bump the cops and bump that kid who was robbing folks. WE need to stop this thug attitude and get rid of the crooked cops. The fact it turned into a looting session is beyond ridiculous. Did any of Martin or Malcolm marches start widescale looting?!?!?

      The whole situation was one big shame for the American people

      • Savimbi

        Not at all…………..

        the egyptians when the arab spring began…protested…when Mubarak didn’t adhere guess what they did???

        Now Mubarak is sitting in the Hague…he may never get tried…but rioting and protesting Egyptians got him there!!!!!!!

        Too much pacifism in this country…The Armed Forces got everybody shook!!!!!

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  • SmittyJ

    Man, you can’t be serious. Rap has nothing to do with this Ferguson situation. If you’ve been hearing the fruity booty azz sh*t that’s been playing on the radio and elsewhere then you know it would have these folks doing the opposite.

    • PatriciaLVetter

      I just got paid
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      Navigate To This Web-Site —>>Navigate To Any Link IN SITE To Get More Information

  • Immortal

    Another misleading article here…”They used sonar sirens designed to create pain and fear in the listener, tear gas, rubber bullets, tasers and pepper spray. These are weapons of violence and modern warfare. The injuries they inflict caused serious, possibly long term injuries”. Sonar sirens are used primarily in the prevention of hijacking a cargo vessel. Your ears are going to ring like no body’s business, but no permanent damage done unless you try to advance on one. Rubber Bullets are not used in modern warfare period. They are a crowd control measure. Ball ammunition is used and you didn’t say you were hit with one of those….if you did get hit with a 7.62 round, this wouldn’t even be a discussion. Tasers…done my share and never was a Taser there. And pepper spray? That’s not so bad..wash your eyes out with clean water and wait an hour or two and you’ll be fine. That first blurp is misleading to those that do not know what these things are used for in actual applications. A rubber bullet can kill if you get hit in the head, but otherwise it leaves a welt or bruise like what’s pictures above due to the lower powder charge in the round. Police used airplanes and drones….actually it was Blackhawks civilianized and those “drones” were civilian drones not the reaper, predator, or any other military variant.
    If this is the first time you’ve seen this, then you don’t get out the house much nor do you watch the local news or even the regional news. There are peaceful protests everywhere. And there are dickheads who ruin it by looting for no good reason.
    Just because some songs were played that had “some” meaning to the situation does not make it an instant Hip Hop revolution or a demonstration based upon it. They could’ve played some Salsa and Meringue and it would’ve been a Latin festival? And did you think that maybe they were pissed because someone was blasting “BooPac”? That would drive a few people insane.
    I think the articles intent was to show folks coming together in a cause that all could believe in, but as usual with this site, it’s written in a disjointed, slanted manner that two sentences in you could tell it was going to be like cheap porn…they both suck. You didn’t explain how there were other races there supporting Mr. Brown, nor did you mention how multiple races were there cleaning up the mess that was left in their neighborhood. This protest had nothing to do with Hip Hop and everything to do with folks of all races being tired of the police state we are finding ourselves in, tired of the lack of accountability, lack of transparency, and the outright lies told on all sides to get others to support their claim.
    I welcome debate on the merits of what I wrote both good and bad.

    • jazzoh

      why is all of this necessary when people are peacefully protesting? why is a sonar siren that is used in prevention of hijacking a cargo vessel a part of the arsenal used on people in this country ….where is the cargo vessel?…. tasers have been known to cause permanent damage i.e cardiac arrest and death rubber bullets can cause permanent damage….. I had to scan it again but it doesn’t look like they were specific about who was there the person in the pic is pretty fair skinned maybe this is just an example of the damage that can be done by one of these harmless non lethal crowd control tools. As much as we want to have utopian kumbaya moments somethings are what they are i don’t cosign looting and destruction of your neighbors property but i think it’s a reaction of a powerless group who don’t know what else to do

      • Immortal

        I agree that this is not required when people are peacefully protesting. In regards to the sonar siren, it is a non lethal form of crowd control when used in this sense even though it’s primary job was to fight ship hijacking. I’ll grant you the Tasers thing, but that is an extreme case, and one where we didn’t hear of anyone passing form the use of one there. Those moments that you spoke of while great in thought honestly don’t exist even in other facets of real life. The looting when it was done by those that lived there was one thing (they had stopped and gone to peaceful means), but as soon as it was proven (and not by the police on scene, independent verification), what good was it doing? What was their mission, what point were they getting across? “I can come “support” you, tear your shit up and leave”? The community of Ferguson didn’t deserve that, and they didn’t help the situation any. It “might’ve” been a “powerful message had it been done in the cops neighborhood. Maybe even downtown, but it wasn’t. As. Usual.

      • jazzoh

        what moments are you talking about ? I stated there are cases where Tasers etc have been known to be lethal or cause permanent damage this is fact, a simple google search will prove that. I agree that the aggression was misplaced but at the end of the day most of the time we occupy we don’t own anyway again sometimes when you feel powerless your reaction is inexplicable especially after you read about this everyday and can read history books where the same things happened. You have asked nicely, marched,sang,talked to your congressman,submitted petitions etc… people are not getting busted heads ……they are DYING ….I was just thinking about how gentle they were in Waco and those people had a full arsenal of weapons and were allowed to sit and decide what was in their best interest….Do I shoot it out or come out with my hands up few days later ah you know I think I’ll come out with my hands up ….no tasers no sirens just phone calls …sometimes no matter how bad we want to see things through our rose shade glasses or with our own spin they are what they are and allowing anyone to paint a picture to try to convince us otherwise does us a disservice in the long run.

      • Immortal

        There were no instances of a Taser killing anyone in the current situation in Ferguson. There is a lawsuit where the police used them on the mentally ill, but that was in 2011. I already knew of many others, but I was talking about this one section in time. And as far as moments go I was talking about this ” As much as we want to have utopian kumbaya moments…”. You mention gentile was the case in Waco. In Waco it had been proven that they had serious crew served weapons, that were able to make swiss cheese out of quite a few of the federal vehicles. When I say federal, that does not include the use of the tanks at the end which belonged to the military, and was used only for breeching purposes only. Ferguson didn’t have that problem. David Koresh had a boatload of kids inside a wooden tinderbox. Now me personally I didn’t care about the parents they have the ability to make a choice whereas the kids didn’t. Ferguson didn’t. The FBI, ATF, and all the local agencies tried to get this dude out peacefully being who really wants to have the lives of all those kids on their conscience? Who fired the shot that stated the whole siege will always be in dispute, just depends on who you ask. I’m not sure and am in no way able to speculate. I know mainstream news will only tell you want they want to just to get a rise or some other designed output from you. In regards to blacks tearing up their own, it’s not so much on the literal “owning” of a house or land vs. just owning a piece of your community. Each of the locals owned a piece of their community because they lived there, spent their money there tried to maintain some sort of social contract (not nessicarily contact) with each other, so with that, they were tearing up their own stuff. The markets they used, the stores they used, community property they used, it was all theirs. Watts, DC, LA to name a few. Folks were done wrong took to the streets in protest in some cases peacefully others no so. My issue will be those that come down to “support” this, what are you really there for? Are you there to peacefully show solidarity with those affected by the incident or are you there just to get “one at the man” pump up your chest and go after you tear some stuff up? That’s counterproductive, self serving, and only makes the situation worse while you drive home thinking you did something. BTW good debate. No name calling, no nothing, just a simple constructive conversation. Wish there were more on here.

      • jazzoh

        my point was exactly that, you have people who are peacefully protesting vs people who are heavily armed and the treatment is different. I think looting etc is like a childs tantrum can’t beat them can’t reason with them so you fall out on the floor and make yourself seen and heard …after you still have to clean your room but that was the only thing you could do at the moment. oh yeah I guarantee if they wanted to get real with the people in Waco they could have. So the fact that they had potentially damaging possibly lethal weapons to use against a peaceful crowd isn’t enough if someone didn’t get damaged or dead in this specific case? Also there are many cases in this country and in the world where kids are not as much of a hindrance or consideration. I hear u no time for that I am just responding no reason to go to war or for misplaced aggression

    • Wash eyes with MILK!

      #IJS

      • Immortal

        Huh?

      • Yeah, the water will spread it, the milk will get rid of it.

        Kinda like smoking too much wet / angel dust, they drink milk to sober up, etc.

        No water, milk or Pepsi.

      • Immortal

        Yup when I first read it I thought you were telling me to wash my eyes with milk, and when I re read it, I remembered washing it with milk helps.

      • Just incase you get sprayed by the cops representing for a mugger!

        >>LOL~N

        I’m gonna open your eyes on Mike Brown…just wait.

      • Immortal

        Bruh you know you have already. There are some technicalities we might disagree on, but I think we’re on the same boat for the most part. But there is the audio now saying there was a pause in the shooting. If there was a pause, I want to know why. Was it because he was reloading (doubt it), or was he going to finish the job? Either way I don’t know. And I believe there is going to be an information drop that’s going to open some eyes and pucker some a$$holes one way or the other.

      • He paused to give the kid a chance…when the kid didn’t accept & kept moving on him…he resumed firing.

      • Immortal

        That’s debatable. If you have this tall ass man coming at you in a defensive manner, you are taught to shoot to kill. No wounding, No questions there. Now as soon as stop firing why did you start back up? The audio won’t show anything that couldn’t be explained away, but it still begs to question what was going on? There will be some federal investigators who will give the final answers in the end.

      • I posted the vid somewhere, Mike kept charging the cop, after fugging him up & being shot, according to independant eyewitnesses who were unaware the camera was filming.

        P.S. : Not shoot to kill…shooting to eliminate the threat.

        I think had Mike Brown said “Ouch! Ok…you got me…I surrender!” etc..the second volley wouldn’t have been fired.

      • Immortal

        You’re not talking about the secondary audio where the folks are in the background talking are you?
        Shoot to kill (Killing is center mass) Eliminating the threat just sounds like some sexy catchphrase for what the real deal is.
        Can’t comment on that until the ballistics tests come back WITH the clothing and vehicle and the information both carry. But I doubt I’ll see any of it until after a grand jury if there is one is brought together.

      • Yeah, the secondary audio is exactly what I’m talking about & his Co-D’s statement to the media.

        If it was STK, there would have been no pause…just dumping.

        The pause was to give Mike Brown a chance…not the cop.

  • Hip hop did help, Show your ethnicity before u comment for sure, because a fake avatar looks like a perpetrator to me

    • Brindle

      the pit is light brown but I’m black. And nah, I don’t think hiphop helped anything, unfortunately, as usual now a days, hiphop was following rather than leading…

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  • Decency

    The only thing contemporary hip hop fuels is passive behavior. Rappers would have told the Ferguson protestors not to get mad but get money, just be glad “my president is black”. A few rappers jumping on the incident by making a few protest tracks from the comfort of their studio means nothing. Contemporary hip hop breeds groupthink.

  • 5% Hov

    “Hip hop didn’t fuel the uprising in Ferguson. A child’s execution did”

    What he said.

    • A child that robbed a local storekeeper & resisted the police with force.

      • 5% Hov

        Nothing do with what I said.

      • Jimmy Ivine

        He never robbed anything. The cops put that rumor out to get people like you to think that the shooting was justified, and you believed the lies… You sheep are despicable.

      • So why did his co defendant help spread the RUMOR by confessing to robbing the store with him?

        I think YOU are the sheep that believes everything without questioning!

  • Slaughtr

    Resisted the police with force!, the media has fcked minds up. Hip hop these days isn’t on shyt conscience so to say hip hop hell to the fck no! All I saw was a bunch of bandwagon seizing the opportunity to be an ass because most think burning up your fckin hood helps when the mainstream don’t give a fck so go head nigglets and destroy your community, in turn dumb nonstrategic ways to handle the system. As always the media painted a negative picture of the young man and it is said that the youngin in the video was not Brown. As long as brothers keep killing each other over bullshyt why should the world care when a cop does it. Brains need surgery out here along with a few niggaz who need a heart, courage the wizard couldn’t give it to this generation.

    • Here is video proof to support your post.

      /watch?v=0mAaJMBxKA4

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  • mma slappy

    That title is retarded,hip hop is way to soft in 2014 to spark anything

  • ZUBU

    Article was too darn long, didn’t finish it but I get what dude is trying to say.