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The People is our section for all things concerning Black Chicago. In this piece, Chicago organizer Kofi Ademola reflects on the death of Danye Jones in Ferguson, Missouri.

As my homie, and fellow Chicago activist, Diallo Kenyatta says: anti-Blackness is a worldwide phenomenon. For hundreds of years now, Blackness has been considered an emanate threat to white supremacy. And, because of it, Blackness always has needed to be neutralized in order to preserve white hegemony. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon: the transatlantic slave trade, the Trail of Tears under President Andrew Jackson, the Congolese holocaust under Belgium’s King Leopold II, America’s Jim Crow, and South Africa’s apartheid.

Ferguson, Missouri is today’s clearest example. In August 2014, after a cop killed 18-year-old Mike Brown in the St. Louis suburb, the world looked on as Black people sparked a national movement for Black lives with the fire of liberation. That fire caught on in Chicago, inspiring activists like myself to demand justice for families who also lost loved ones to police violence by the Chicago Police Department. In Chicago, most of us learned that our city had a long history of resistance and organizing against police terrorism. This is the home of the state-sanctioned assassinations of Black Panthers Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, the police torture cases under former Commander Jon Burge, and the attempted cover-up of former Officer Jason Van Dyke’s unjust fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.

We know Ferguson because Ferguson is every Black community that is oppressed, over-policed, and hyper-surveilled by the state.

So on Oct. 28th, when Ferguson activist Melissa McKinnies hit up a mutual friend of mine, telling them that her 24-year-old son Danye Jones was found dead, hanging from a tree in her backyard, I cried.

After I finished processing that pain, I took to Twitter to express my anger and, more importantly, raise awareness about an injustice that seemed to elude the media during a time when a white supremacist just killed two Black senior citizens in Louisville, Kentucky.

To me, it seemed the nation had turned a blind eye towards Danye Jones. Most media outlets didn’t start reporting on the tragedy until after McKinnies went to Facebook, posting a photo of her son hanging from the tree, which went viral late last month. (Ed. note: The photo has since been deleted from McKinnies Facebook page, but can be seen here. WARNING: graphic content.)

But, the thing is, there’s been a silent war waging against Black activists in Ferguson for years now, and hardly anyone is paying attention.

Before Danye Jones, there was DeAndre Joshua. Police say he was found dead behind the wheel of a burning car with a gunshot wound to the head in November 2014, after the grand jury’s decision not to charge the Ferguson cop in Mike Brown’s fatal shooting.

Then, there was one of the most vocal activists in the 2014 Ferguson protests, Darren Seals. He also was found dead inside a burning vehicle, with at least one gunshot wound, in September 2016.

Then, Edward Crawford died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in May 2017, police say. He was the Black man wearing an American flag T-shirt and throwing a flaming tear-gas canister in the iconic photo of the 2014 Ferguson protests.

Joshua and Seals’ homicides are unsolved. Crawford’s father didn’t believe the police report that his son committed suicide. Now, Danye Jones’s death is being investigated as a suicide, and his mother doesn’t believe he took his own life. This is the America us activists live in.

What happened in Ferguson wasn’t a riot, but rather an uprising or rebellion. White people riot after championship games without fear of consequence. Black people rebel when injustices become too much to collectively bare, but we’re then met with state violence or demonized altogether by the media.

What’s happening in Ferguson matters because it could happen to any of us on the ground fighting for justice. While the Parkland activists are given the red-carpet treatment, national tours, book deals, and praise by Oprah Winfrey, Black activists across the country battle in the shadows. It’s in those shadows where Ferguson’s activists specifically are being murdered and erased.

Again, this is our America.

Kofi Ademola is a revolutionary prison and police abolitionist, and organizer in Chicago.