In the aftermath of the Ferguson grand jury decision, a number of people took to the streets of the St. Louis suburb. While others sought to protest in peace, others began torching cars, looting and burning down local area businesses. Their actions caused many in the nation and around the world to question why some residents were destroying their own town.
In an exclusive NewsOne.com interview, we hear directly from residents of the Canfield Green Apartments, where unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson.
Twenty-five-year-old Tommy Keely spoke with NewsOne. He told us he is the cousin of Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown just prior to his death. About the destruction of the city, Keely said, “I ain’t gonna say I support the looting, but I ain’t saying nobody was wrong for doing it.”
Another young man who identified himself as “OG Bobby Johnson,” interjected that he does support looting of businesses and called the action “the real Black Friday.”
Keely then explained why he felt the actions of a group of protesters were valid saying, “Why should we have to abide by laws that don’t apply to the people that make the laws and enforce the laws. If they laws don’t apply to them, then why should they apply to us?”
“If it’s ok for [Darren Wilson] to kill somebody like that, it should be okay for me to do it, you know what I mean? Real talk. But they do us like this everyday. This ain’t just start with Mike [Brown]. It’s probably not going to stop,” said Kelley.
He added, “Why should we really care about some sh*t that’s not bringing us no money, that’s taking money from our pockets. These stores don’t pay us. We don’t work in none of these stores and they not gonna to give us jobs. So why should we care about their businesses?”
When asked his initial reaction to the Darren Wilson grand jury verdict, Keely said, “I personally threw a bottle at a police officer’s head.”
“I wanted to shoot one of them, but I ain’t condoning no violence.”
Keely expressed his and many others frustration over the grand jury’s move to not indict Wilson saying, “I really couldn’t do nothing about the decision. Once they made they decision, it was what it was.”
He then suggested the violent protests are Ferguson’s response to the jury’s decision, saying, “So my city did what they had to do. And it’s not over.”
Keely called the destruction that the nation witnessed on Monday “remodeling” because he believes all of the business owners have insurance, “so by the end of 2015, Ferguson is going to look like Clayton” another St. Louis area suburb.
“So why everybody even trippin’? Every store right there got insurance. They ain’t hurt. They’re fitting to get paid double time. So why are they even acting like they’re hurt?” he said.
Keely expressed resentment over conditions that have left him and many others in the community feeling alienated, marginalized and left out of economic progress in America. The perception that foreigners receive preferential treatment in business is a large factor in that resentment.
“Motherf*cker come from another country where they’re supposed to be our allies …but you giving them $10,000 grants to start a business. They’re buying guns and sh*t. They’re buying up dope.”
He went on to say, “But we can’t even get a $10 loan. And our people built this country on their backs.”
To be very clear, NewsOne does not condone looting or bias against foreigners, but we think it’s important to understand the mindset that can lead to it in order to change things for the better in Ferguson and other communities facing similar circumstances. Watch the video clip above and consider what we can do to make sure nothing like the recent destruction in Ferguson happens again.