It's hard to overstate just how evocative the events in Ferguson, Missouri have been over the last few months. With an entire community thrown into the tumult of a globally recognized protest movement, and members of various communities standing up to make their voices heard, black, brown and white alike, it's no surprise that the sadness, strife and urgency has lent itself to some dramatic acts of public artistry. Both in the St. Louis area, and around the world, there have been powerful examples of Ferguson-related graffiti sprouting up. Whether paying their respects to slain teen Michael Brown, criticizing the police, calling for peace and calm, or all of the above, there are some images out there that may be capable of stirring something deep inside you.
And really, now seems as good a time to look as any. With a St. Louis grand jury having already decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Brown in their fateful early August encounter, there's no telling for sure where the protest movement will go from here. The only thing that does seem certain is that it isn't going away — with multiple instances of harrowing police violence against unarmed black citizens in recent months (the killings of John Crawford and Tamir Rice in Ohio, for example), the movement has spread throughout cities and towns all across America and beyond. Here are some striking images that speak to that fact, both from within Ferguson, and the world over.
Open For Business
After the announcement that Wilson wasn't going to be indicted, the city of Ferguson had a pretty rough night. While countless protesters turned out for peaceful demonstration, as they have done so for months, the city was also plagued with looters and arsonists.
Property damage, of course, is little compared to the value of human life — in this case, specifically those of black Americans — and that's frankly where the bulk of the media's attention ought to be going. But there's no denying that a lot of business owners and employees got their lives turned upside down that fateful evening. So it's heartening to see everyday citizens helping get some of these places back up and running with a splash of paint here and there. Nothing says "closed" like a smashed-in storefront window, after all, even if you're open.
Spotted in Oakland, California after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, this is as simple and unvarnished a statement as it gets. It's a more general echo of what's become the mainstay rallying cry of the Ferguson movement — "Black Lives Matter."
Solidarity From Ireland
The iconic "Free Derry" sign, painted amid the tumult of late-1960's, early-1970's Northern Ireland, has apparently been given a makeover in solidarity with the Ferguson protests — in addition to the phrase "hands up, don't shoot," an image of a helmeted rifleman taking aim at people labelled "Ferguson," "Derry," and "Palestine."
Solidarity From Palestine
Few international issues are as polarizing within the United States as the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and in that way, it's not surprising to see this kind of cross-border solidarity. Few domestic movements have been as polarizing as Ferguson has proven to be, after all. The sympathetic contact between Palestinian and Ferguson activists has been on display before — when protesters were being teargassed by St. Louis-area police, some Palestinians tweeted different ways to flush the chemical agent out of their eyes.
The Scales of Justice
As everybody knows, justice is supposed to be blind. Was justice blind in the Darren Wilson grand jury? Consider this: in 2010, a whopping 162,000 grand jury cases were presented, and only 11 resulted in non-indictments, according to FiveThirtyEight — that's a non-indictment rate of 0.006 percent.
"Are We Really Free?"
One of the most iconic images from all of the Ferguson protests splashed against a stone wall. Captured in a photo, that moment when Missouri resident Edward Crawford picked up a teargas canister and lobbed it back won't soon be forgotten.