“If they can’t serve justice in this, the people have every right to go out and express their rage in a manner that is equal to what we have suffered,” said Ashley Yates, a co-founder of Millennial Activists United, who was arrested last week while protesting in Ferguson.
Yates spoke alongside Tef Poe and Tory Russell, activists for Hands Up United and the Organisation for Black Struggle, hours after it emerged that authorities in Missouri were making plans to deal with potential riots in the event of Wilson avoiding prosecution.
“We’re going to take our anger out on the people who have failed us, and if they are prepared to deal with that, then let them have at it,” said Yates. Poe said that while people in America often expected “casual revolution”, Ferguson may be “the moment when we can’t do that”.
More than a week of unrest followed Wilson’s fatal shooting of Brown on 9 August after the city officer stopped the 18-year-old and a friend for jaywalking. Several witnesses have said Brown was shot while fleeing and when his hands were up. Police say he assaulted Wilson.
Police cracked down on the protests with a militarised presence including armoured vehicles and dozens of armed officers in riot gear. Demonstrators were shot with teargas and rubber bullets. More than 220 people have been arrested since the protests began. A grand jury in St Louis county is now considering evidence gathered by a county police inquiry.
The three activists said that in addition to the arrest of Wilson, protesters were demanding that Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for the county, whom they accuse of pro-police bias, to step down from the case, or for the Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, to remove him. They also want the resignation of Ferguson’s mayor, James Knowles III, and its police chief, Tom Jackson, over their handling of the crisis.