Michael Brown’s killing wasn’t the first time in American history where a black male was unarmed yet shot dead by a white police officer. It wouldn’t be the last.
But Brown’s death — and the outrage which followed — seems to be a watershed moment separating the era of ‘it happened again’ from ‘it can’t happen anymore.’
Playwright Phelim McAleer addresses the unrest which was based on a lie started by Brown’s friend. The turmoil was amplified by an eager, credulous media. Now it falls to McAleer, a New York City playwright, to perform a public service and sift the truth.
The 90-minute courtroom drama just wrapped production at the 30th Street Theatre in Manhattan but will be restaged in a different venue if interest is sustained.
Governor Finally Intervenes
Missouri’s Governor, Jay Nixon, had seen weeks and months of sometimes peaceful, often violent protests in the little suburb of St. Louis. While everyone waited for the grand jury decision, Nixon detailed law enforcement preparations.
Tensions had been building, and some groups threatened to hunt down Wilson if the officer was not charged with a crime.
When rumors of an impending announcement swept social media, the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, reiterated his thought that the grand jury wouldn’t decide until the last two weeks of November.
I Know What I Saw
The National Lawyers Guild and American Civil Liberties Union assisted in protester training and tried to negotiate terms of engagement with police officers for the expected demonstrations.
Looting and vandalism in Ferguson followed the shooting. Protesters clashed with law enforcement, and some businesses boarded up and decided how to protect themselves and their property if violence and destruction spewed from the angry volcano again.
The school district reviewed plans in case of protests, and the schools were required to repeatedly dismiss classes early for safety.
While people from Ferguson said, “I know what I saw, You can’t deny it,” they forget there is a difference between “I know what I saw,” and “I know what I was shown.”
Vengeance And An Eyewitness
Ferguson broke out the summer of 2014 from a need for vengeance. Vengeance comes out of anger, frustration, and passion. Revenge has just one goal: destruction. Destruction of what went wrong, but vengeance is often turned on anything else the anger focuses on.
The protester’s claims begin to fall apart as one last witness, Ciara Jenkins, played by Renika Williams in McAleer’s stage version which is based verbatim on grand jury transcripts.
Speaking of Brown charging Wilson “like a football player,” Jenkins wonders, “I don’t understand why he just didn’t stop.”