Just as one of of The Lost Voices was to conduct an interview with AllHipHop, he was arrested by the police, seemingly a move just to jostle the young man's life. He was released shortly after activists, lawyers and others assembled to get him out.
Despite what the somnolent masses may believe, the embers in the hotbed of Ferguson, MO have yet to cool down. Much of the media is long gone, as busy journalists have fulfilled their assignments and have moved on to the next salacious story. The tanks and militarized police have rolled back, but the battle continues.
The Lost Voices understand this all too well.
The Lost Voices are a rambunctious, political collective that has set up an encampment outside in close proximity to where Mike Brown was slain in August by officer Darren Wilson. Comprised primarily of 10 young people, their goal is to activate their comrades and also turn up for Mike Brown, who could have easily been one of them that Wilson killed in the street. Committed to sleeping outside is no easy task, especially when you have a local government of dense oozes corruption and misconduct. And yet, the Lost Voices understand that they are not alone, connecting revolutionary dots with Organization For Black Struggle (OBS), Black Lives Matter, the ACLU and and a resolute conclave of activists and organizers. They've even linked up with drug dealer-turned-activist Freeway Ricky Ross and found inspiration in J. Cole, who visited Ferguson during the uprising.
AllHipHop's CEO Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur talked to one of the leaders in the Lost Voices, Travis, after their voices started a previous feature story on Ferguson and Mike Brown . (Click here to read "Ferguson’s Struggle: No Games, The Spirit Of Tupac And A Divided Movement") The 19-year-old conveyed their struggles, woes and emotional terrorism taking place in the Ferguson area, which is truly a microcosm of conduct all across America . More importantly, Travis reveals how the Lost Voices are slowly being found by inserting themselves in the systemic revolution taking place in 2014.
Presently a non-profit organization, the Lost Voices need support to do what they do. Click here to like them on Facebook and get more information on how to send them supplies as the winter begins to creep up.
AllHipHop.com: Hey Travis..how are you doing? I heard you had some recent issues with the police?
Travis: Yesterday, I was locked up. I guess I had too much swag in my walk. They got me for “manner of walking” and “obstructing traffic.”
AllHipHop.com: I never heard of a charge like manner of walking. Wow. That’s hard to conceptualize. If they want you, they will find a way. How are you guys holding up aside from the most recent things that have happened?
Travis: We’re holding up pretty good. Right now, we just found a new camp site. And we’re setting up our business. We just got our LLC and getting our tax ID and everything like that squared away.
AllHipHop.com: First of all, how many of you live in the encampment?
Travis: There are 10.
AllHipHop.com: Explain to me, in your own words, what you are doing and what you want to accomplish. A lot of people have not heard of the Lost Voices and want to know.
Travis: What we are about is the youth. The oldest of us is 43. We range from the old to the young and who’s not born yet. We’re just trying to get everybody’s awareness about getting their rights down and being educated about their rights. And, knowing that you don’t have to stand and let the Mike Brown case occur again. We’re trying to end that and bring awareness in our community.
AllHipHop.com: You had to move your camp. Is that due to the police or something else, like the business where you were staying.
Travis: There’s some issue with that. Originally, we was at the Red’s BBQ place, which is like a couple blocks down. They told us we could set up a place to get people to vote - register to vote, but then they changed their mind. Its been a wishy washy thing with them. And then they said they would get the police involved and the lawyers and all that. So, we decided for ourselves to go ahead and move before there are any problems. I guess, later on that night, we had problems because I got arrested. They don’t like what we’re doing I guess.
AllHipHop.com: I guess maybe the restaurant wasn’t interested in having that political portion…
AllHipHop.com: Where are you guys moving now?
Travis: We’re at the old Ponderosa restaurant.
AllHipHop.com: They are willing to let you all stay there with no issues?
Travis: Actually, we’re trying to find out who owns it, and the building. Until that comes up, we’re not going to worry about that. We have a P.O. Box and a bank account set up to accept donations.
AllHipHop.com: You guys have made an impression. There’s always this reoccurring criticism of young people, that they lack intestinal fortitude when it comes to political engagement. Where do you guys fall into this new form of leadership?
Travis: This was the spur of the moment. We didn’t really see the vision of us growing like this, but to see all the support we’re getting. And realizing….I’ma tell you this too: we were all complete strangers. We didn’t know each other from a can of paint. We took up the position of being leaders to organize ourselves. That’s just great thing that happened, being complete strangers and getting to know one another. Especially in St. Louis. The Mike Brown case, I mean the Mike Brown death…he was the inspiration for us to come together. I can say this. We love J. Cole. He was a part of it. And, NWA was a part of it too. Keeping that attitude.
AllHipHop.com: I saw some video. You guys really get it poppin…
Travis: Yes, sir. I’ll tell you this too. Every time we get on the street, its like a straight concert. And that’s how we get connected to the youth, having some sort of concert for them. So they can have fun and not have to worry bout the extra bulls**t we are going through. That would be like the most treating thing.
AllHipHop.com: New York and New Jersey, where we are, have their issues with police brutality, but the uprising in Ferguson was a completely different thing. What’s it like being a young person in that area? Is this normal? Was Mike Brown a special instance?
Travis: The Mike Brown situation…that was captured. It was a captured moment, a police killing a young man. I’m sure they’ve killed others the same, but in this instance, it was no longer going to happen again. This could have been me or my twin brother. Like what the f**k? You get antagonized by the police and they are supposed to protect and serve you. And then they wonder why they are being disrespected. They have a distinct attitude about young black men and how they approach us. I’m probably not making any sense right now. But, every time I come around the police, I get nervous. I shouldn’t feel like that every damn time.
AllHipHop.com: There’s a lot of studies about that. Racism is a mental thing. It wears you down, it stresses you out and creates ailments. The actual presence, the intimidation - if you want to call it that. People don’t talk about that much. What would you guys say is your goal? You have a company now.
Travis: The goal of the company is to get the word out. We are speaking for the people. Straight up. For the youth to stand up. That’s a monumental thing. We’re making history now. We want to make people aware of our rights. And voting. Its so important. I had a couple people to get to vote and they didn’t want to, because they didn’t know the elected officials. That’s a f**kin’ problem. Point blank. That’s a big thing that’s got to change. We’ve got strength in numbers.
AllHipHop.com: The population there is mostly Black. It seems like you guys would have an easy time voting in who you want to, or getting somebody in that represents what you want.
Travis: And we have two female Black Senators come to us. Maria (Chappelle-Nadal) and she spent the night with us. That’s the most important thing. We (the youth) don’t trust authority.
AllHipHop.com: The cameras have died down now and the media is not as prominent. What’s it like now? How is the fight carrying on with less media present?
Travis: Its very strong. A lot of the media have left. The Lost Voices haven’t. We’re growing each day in numbers. I’m telling you right now: the passion has not left. The media have gone. We haven’t left until we have justice.
AllHipHop.com: When you talk about justice. A lot of people fight for justice, they want to do it when its easy or don’t have a concept of how long it takes to actually achieve justice. What keeps you motivated, especially with the militarized police.
Travis: I can tell you now. We don’t give a rat’s ass about a tank coming up at us. What was normal was not normal. Us just standing by was not normal. This is normal right now. All of us have gotten together. We’re like a big family. We gotta start someplace. And you gottta teach the children the right way.
AllHipHop.com: Did you know the average member of the Black Panther Party was about the same age as you are? How do you feel about that? A lot of people these days look at leaders as older people, you know Al Sharpton…
Travis: And that’s something that has to change! Like, old young…it doesn’t matter how old you are. You have to have the mindset. We all have the mindset to be leaders. We have grown to be leaders..young leaders. I have never seen so many people with so much passion. You have some that are Bloods and some that are Crips. It doesn’t matter. We came together. That’s the most important thing.
AllHipHop.com: This is AllHipHop…I gotta ask: Are a any of you going to start rapping?
Travis: [Laughs] Of course. We have a couple of rappers. One’s name is Dante and the other’s name is Low-Key. Just wait on that. Lost Voices.
AllHipHop.com: Even though its kind of cliche, Hip-Hop a big way to get the way to get the word out. There’s nothing like Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: Did you have anything else you wanted to say?
Travis: Until we have freedom we can never have peace. Until we have our freedom, we can never have peace. We have to get our freedom to get our peace.
All images from Facebook