Rembert Browne’s Report From Ferguson

Rembert Browne:

I’d never had an assault rifle pointed at me before. I’d never locked eyes with a man holding an assault rifle atop a tank. But this was reality in Ferguson — those who’d been protesting for hours in front of these tanks had long passed the point of being scared of these soldiers.

As darkness fell, the crowd was growing, in number and volume. I wasn’t sure which side was going to back down, voluntarily or forcibly. Or when.

At one point, one of the cops appeared to smile. It ignited the crowd, which had made a habit of focusing on specific cops, either in an attempt to rattle them, to draw out any sign of humanity, or simply to shame them.

Then there was the helicopter, circling the crowd with a spotlight shining down. Most of the front line of protesters threw the middle finger whenever the light zeroed in on them.

And then there was the first request, which felt more like a demand.

I usually try to not add anything to pieces I link to of a political nature. In general, when I post a link to a piece, I don’t really see it as being about me. I posted it—obviously, I think it’s important enough for others to see. This time, though, it feels different.

I follow Browne’s work because he’s two years younger than me and is one of the first journalists—maybe because of his Internet presence beyond his actual writing—that I’ve felt a connection to. I understand his voice, and his references, and his conclusions. However, I would never claim to fully understand his thoughts and emotions about race. That doesn’t stop me from using his words to help inform my world view.

Following along with the protests in Ferguson on Wednesday, I was relieved when I finally saw the tweets he mentions near the end of the piece, when he let his friends and family and followers know that, “I’m not fine, but I’m fine.” What he wrote about his experience is powerful, sad, raw, and most of all—important.