Anger in Ferguson Co-opted by Pro-Palestinian Activists

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil-doing.” (Psalm 37:8)

Following a Grand Jury decision not to indict the white police officer responsible for the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August, protests and riots erupted in the St. Louis suburb and across the US. Some, however, are not content to express their concerns over a perceived miscarriage of justice, and insist on linking the case to the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel cause.

At least a month ago, the Legal Insurrection blog reported on activists’ efforts, stretching back as far as August, to piggy-back tensions in the predominantly black neighborhood to promote their cause. Activist groups have expressed solidarity as one “oppressed” people to another. “Resistance to Mike Brown’s killing has been met with violent repression in the form of rubber bullets, tanks, and tear gas” the anti-Israel group End the Occupation said via Facebook, calling on others “to stand together to challenge the systemic racism faced by black and brown communities in Ferguson, St. Louis, and across the nation.” In Seattle this week, protesters marched under a banner reading “Occupation is a Crime, Ferguson to Palestine”.

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Images of protesters in Ferguson side-by-side with similar photographs of Palestinian protesters pepper the internet. Some of those images encourage extreme violence. In this video clip, taken from a news report filmed live at protests in Ferguson, a man wrapped in a keffiyeh (Arab headdress) is seen confronting the reporter before knocking out the camera. Palestinians have also been sharing advice on how to deal with being tear gassed.

However, expressions of support and solidarity are not enough, and some have gone so far as to accuse Israel, at least indirectly, of being responsible for the death of Michael Brown. Electronic Intifada claimed the police on the scene when Brown was killed were Israeli-trained. In fact, one former county police chief had attended a one-week seminar in Israel, but he no longer held that position when Brown was shot. Furthermore, New York Times reporter Robert Mackey tweeted that Israel used the same type of tear-gas as employed in Ferguson.