Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and Need

The progress from Western colonial global expansion, and the construction of American wealth and industry on the backs of enslaved Blacks and Native peoples, followed by the abrupt "emancipation" of the slaves and their exodus from the South to the Northern cities, has led us to our current divided society. Divided by economic inequities and unequal access to social resources, the nation lives in a media dream of social harmony, or did until YouTube set its bed on fire. Now, it is common knowledge that our current system of brutal racist policing and punitive over-incarceration serves the dual purpose of maintaining racial prejudice and the inequities it justifies. Brief yourself on this late-breaking development in American history here.

Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and Need

Postby admin » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:17 am

Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and Needles’: Six people in the Ferguson, Missouri, activist community have been found dead in the four years since Michael Brown was killed
by EJ Dickson
Rolling Stone
March 18, 2019

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It’s been four and a half years since the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the unarmed young black man whose shooting by police officer Darren Wilson sparked protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, helping to solidify the Black Lives Matter movement. Though the unrest is over, his passing is still deeply felt in the community, particularly among activists who say they are receiving anonymous threats following reports of deaths in their community.

Since the 2014 shooting, about six people connected to the protests following Brown’s death have died — some in violent, mysterious ways, the Associated Press reports. While police say there is no evidence that foul play was involved in the men’s deaths, those within the community report feeling as if they are “on pins and needles,” Rev. Darryl Grey said. The prominent African American leader added that he has received anonymous threats, and that he recently found an unmarked box containing a 6-foot python in his car.

Most recently, Bassem Masri, 31, was found unresponsive on a bus in November 2018 and was later pronounced dead; a toxicology report revealed he had had a heart attack following a fentanyl overdose. Masri was well-known in the community for live-streaming and participating in the Ferguson protests, telling an interviewer in 2014 that he did so because he believed the mainstream media “ain’t gonna say the truth [about Brown’s death.] They ain’t gonna never say the truth. They got their own narrative.”

Two other men connected to the protests, Darren Seals, 29; and Deandre Joshua, 20, were found killed under similar circumstances. Joshua was found dead in a torched car in November 2014 during the Ferguson protests. Two years later, Seals was found dead in a torched car after having been shot. Both men were active in the protest community; Seals, for instance, was seen on video footage comforting Brown’s mother, Lezely McSpadden, at a protest in 2014. Following Seals’ death, Sgt. Shawn McGuire, police spokesman for St. Louis County, vowed to look into whether there was a link between the two deaths. “They [investigators] are aware that DeAndre Joshua died in the same kind of way,” he told the Daily News in 2016. “Anything’s a possibility. Our detectives are always going to look into different avenues, or if it’s the same kind of motive.” (Police are continuing to investigate both deaths.)

In addition to the deaths of Masri, Seals and Joshua, three men associated with the Ferguson protests are reported to have taken their own lives, according to St. Louis police: MarShawn McCarrel, 23; Danye Jones, 24; and Edward Crawford, Jr., 27.

Yet family members and friends in the Ferguson community say that the details of the deaths don’t quite add up. In Oct. 2018, for instance, Jones was found hanging by a sheet on a tree, yet his family members have said that they do not believe Jones would be able to make the knots required to have tied the sheets, nor did Jones’s mother, Melissa McKinnies, recognize the sheets themselves. “They lynched my baby,” she said in a Facebook post after her son was found dead last October.

While some people in the activist community believe that white supremacists may have played a role in the deaths, police say there is no evidence linking them to foul play of any kind. Others have suggested that the spate of deaths underscore the harsh reality of the lives of men in color in St. Louis, Missouri, where violent crime and homicide rates have also been on the rise and black residents are three times more likely to be poor than white residents, thus having less access to crucial physical and mental health services.
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Re: Mysterious Deaths Leave Ferguson Activists ‘On Pins and

Postby admin » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:23 am

Mother disputes early police finding that son's hanging from tree was suicide
November 1, 2018, 6:45 AM
CBS/AP

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SPANISH LAKE, Mo. -- Authorities are investigating the death of a Ferguson protester's son as a suicide, although a message on social media posted by his mother has sparked assertions that it was a lynching. Melissa McKinnies, who was active in the St. Louis suburb after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, posted the Facebook message, saying "They lynched my baby."

The message, which was later removed, began trending on social media sites such as Twitter and Reddit, causing people online and in the community to press officials for more answers about the death of 24-year-old Danye Jones.

In a message posted early Tuesday, McKinnies says she is "sick with grief but ready to get up and fight for my baby."

McKinnies found his body on October 17 hanging from a tree in the backyard of their home in Spanish Lake, in St. Louis County, reports CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV.

Image
Danye Jones in undated family photo, KMOV-TV

A police report lists "suicide" as the nature of the investigation.

McKinnies says Jones had bruises on his face. McKinnies and police say there was a chair near the body.

The posting showed pictures of McKinnies' son hanging from what appeared to be bed sheets.

Family members told KMOV the sheets used to hang him didn't come from their house and the knots used to tie the sheets were advanced. They said they don't believe Jones would have been capable of making those knots.

The medical examiner's determination of the cause of death could take several weeks. Administrator Suzanne McCune said the office doesn't issue preliminary findings.

McKinnies told KMOV she wants police to continue investigating her son's death. "A mother knows her child. He was not suicidal at all, at all," she said.

She added that Jones wasn't depressed and was in the process of starting a real estate business. "He was in good spirits," said McKinnies.

"Saying that he committed suicide, no, you're going to respect him," McKinnies said.

She told KMOV she believes there's more to the story. "What it appears to be to us is that somebody took my son," she said.

McKinnies told KMOV she thinks her family is being targeted.

In the last two months, they've been getting death threats through social media and those threats recently showed up at her doorstep.

"They watched my house and when my husband and my son would approach the car, they would drive off," said McKinnies.


She also said she's never reported the threats to police "because we felt like we had this, you know…" said McKinnies.

When asked by KMOV how she could link those threats to her activism over the Brown shooting, McKinnies she said she didn't want to get into details until a scheduled family news conference Thursday. In addition, a rally in support of Jones was scheduled for Thursday outside the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri.

The Rev. Darryl Gray, a leading St. Louis activist who's met with McKinnies several times since her son's death, confirmed McKinnies' Facebook posting. Gray said it was Facebook, not McKinnies, who took it down.

McKinnies was among thousands who took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, after Brown's death on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown, a black and unarmed 18-year-old, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson during a street confrontation. Wilson was not charged and later resigned, but the shooting led to months of protests and helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gray said he was unaware of any evidence indicating foul play. But he said McKinnies and other activists from Ferguson are often harassed and threatened via text and social media.

"She believes (Jones' death) was meant as a message to her," Gray said.

Police continue to investigate the deaths of two prominent Ferguson protesters, both of whom were found killed inside of torched vehicles - DeAndre Joshua in November 2014 and Darren Seals in September 2016.

First published on November 1, 2018 / 6:45 AM

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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