I received a forwarded email a few weeks ago in reference to an issue that was brought up in the comments section of one of my entries. Apparently, Ferguson and St. Louis County have or had been (at that point) searching a church pretty regularly. I believe the email I received begins to explain why. My resulting investigation, which is not official by any means, revealed the following:
“URGENT: FERGUSON NEEDS THIS
As a member of OBS I can verify that we are working on tirelessly for Justice for Mike Brown and accountability for law enforcement of all kinds. We are in fact all volunteers, and small in number. But with our coalition of other organizations and with your help we can assure that we are in the fight in Ferguson long term. Below is an invitation…if you feel called please help support this work through the Color of Change site or OBS’s website directly:
You support, especially prayers, are appreciated! Also, if you are local and prefer to donate supplies we could use them for the Safe Haven location – St. Mark’s MB Church in Ferguson. This a place open every evening until 2 or 3am. Organizers and folks who are dedicated to protecting the space are welcome to host protesters or anyone in the community who needs a safe, non-violent space. We have food, water, a place to charge phones, wifi, and sometimes its just a cool and quiet place for them to rest.
We’ve triaged many who have been injured, including by tear gas. The county police for the last couple days have been attempting to raid the Safe Haven, claiming the 1st time that there are guns on the premises (not true) and the 2nd time that we are violating building codes by having people sleeping there (which we are not).If they do raid the building we are committed to setting up in an alternate location.
The link for local support is here:
You will be contacted by myself or another supply coordinator.
Much Peace & Many Thanks!!! Please pass this along to anyone you think would like to support. Reply or call my cell with questions. 314-XXX-XXXX (Redacted by WS)
The situation in Ferguson is extreme. Community organizers, journalists, and residents face brutal assaults on their safety and civil rights due to a dangerous and militarized Missouri police force; officers in tanks, clad in riot-gear, are firing rubber-coated bullets and smoke grenades, unleashing tear gas on children, and unlawfully arresting peaceful protestors.1
At the front lines of the fight for justice is Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) — whose tiny volunteer staff have been working around the clock to hold Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fully accountable for brutally killing Michael. But OBS is stretched to the limit and their resources are rapidly depleting. In order to sustain the fight for justice and continue organizing peaceful protests in the face of escalating police violence, OBS needs additional staff and resources.2
Can you chip in $15 today to help Organization for Black Struggle continue their critical work and hire a full-time police accountability organizer?
When we first heard about the tragic police killing of Michael Brown, ColorOfChange reached out to OBS. For decades, this stalwart organization has organized and fought against a punitive and discriminatory culture of policing rampant across the St. Louis area. Since Michael was executed, OBS has been overwhelmed by media requests and progressive groups looking for leadership. Yesterday, when news broke of another tragic police killing in St. Louis OBS was the first to respond.3 Despite limited resources, they continue to bring to life a strategic vision for securing justice for Michael and bringing about sustainable and systemic policing reforms in Missouri. The only thing holding them back is resources. Groups like OBS that fully commit to the long, hard, work of transforming policing practices and securing accountability deserve our support.
In a few short weeks the media spotlight on Ferguson may fade away and we need the strongest possible organizing front on the ground. Please chip in $15 to help OBS hire a full time #JusticeForMikeBrown organizer.
Over the weekend, Ferguson residents experienced some of the worst police violence since Michael Brown was killed.4 Local officials continue to prove incapable of a fair investigation and instead of arresting Officer Wilson for executing Michael they are focused on victim blaming and increasing police militarization.5 Today, all eyes are on Ferguson as National Guard soldiers occupy the city and continue to unjustly crackdown on peaceful protestors and bystanders.6 And it doesn’t have to be this way. The strong organizing of groups like OBS is crucial to resisting ongoing attempts to arrest and criminalize Black organizers and maintain a focus on securing justice for Michael. Furthermore, by supporting OBS today you can ensure a lasting police accountability presence in Ferguson long after the media attention has dwindled.
All funds will be sent directly to OBS. Once you chip in, please ask your friends and family to do the same.
Thanks and peace,
Rashad, Matt, Arisha, Jamar, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange team”
As a result, I started looking into the Organization for Black Struggle. The OBS website does not list membership. However, a quick search revealed that a woman named Jamala Rogers was one of the founders of OBS. Ms. Rogers is also a columnist for the newspaper, the St. Louis American, who claims to have a personal relationship with Senator Jamilah Nasheed.
It was also interesting to note that a GoFundMe pledge had been started seeking to fund the exact same items being sought out by OBS. However, the GoFundMe was started by a man named Mauricelm-Lei Millere. Mr. Millere has since either taken his Facebook page down or has made it private. That’s okay, because I took screenshots. Anyway, Mr. Millere has an interesting pedigree as the self described:The following is what Mr. Millere was requesting both through his own Facebook page as well as his own organization the African American Defense League:
Here is more information from the African American Defense League: Setting Mr. Millere and his calls for violence/genocide aside for a minute, the act of requesting the same items as OBS is not by itself exactly evidence of a connection between Mr. Millere’s group and Ms. Rogers’ group. However, Mr. Millere posted that he was working directly with Zaki Baruti and Anthony Shaheed. See below, line three:
Both Shaheed and Naruti are part of an organization known as the “Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition.” Furthermore, Malik Shabazz, the former Executive Director of the New Black Panther Party as well as the founder of the African American Defense League and the Black Lawyers for Justice, is also a member of the coalition. A list of coalition membership can be found on the following Coalition document:
You’ll notice Jamilah Nasheed who I have referenced before but of particular note is Montague Simmons who is a representative for OBS. The bottom line is that all of the mentioned groups are connected and a number of very violent organizations have been allowed to take root in St. Louis either through ignorance, tacit approval, or direct support by the other members of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition. I do think it’s interesting reading the homophobic words of someone like Millere when he is completely in opposition to the stated guiding principles of the OBS which preach inclusion. Either OBS wasn’t paying that close attention when they agreed to be a part of this greater organization or the guiding principles are a lie.
These are proving to be much more dangerous times than even I initially thought.