As Ferguson Braces for Grand Jury Verdict, “Violence Will Not Be Tolerated” Meme Is a Reminder of How the Protest Started


The grand jury verdict on whether officer Darren Wilson will be indicted in the killing of unarmed teen Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was supposed to come in October. Then early November. It’s still not here. And though observers and citizens alike have long expected that Wilson will be cleared of wrongdoing, that he will walk free and more protests will ensue, the expanding wait is jacking up tension in Missouri.

There have been meetings between protesters and police to try and pre-negotiate action. Some say things are going to explode anyway, with the Ferguson PD spending thousands of dollars on riot gear, including tear gas and “non-lethal” grenades. The Klu Klux Klan reports a spike in recruitment. (“It would hypocritical for us to pin this on the black race when you can clearly watch footage on TV and you see white people as well as black people,” the Grand Wizard told a local paper, touting the multicultural nature of his hatred. “All those people need to be on notice.”)

At Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s press conference on Tuesday, he didn’t exactly calm things down, saying the National Guard could be called in and vowing that “violence will not be tolerated.”

Online, “Violence Will Not Be Tolerated” immediately became a meme, as activists and other citizens tweeted images of protesters encountering police violence, as well as young black men and women who had been killed by the cops. The point, of course, was that state-sanctioned violence is far too tolerated in the lives of people of color:

So while the mainstream media narrative in the coming days hinges on riots and violence from the protesters, it’s important for us onlookers to remember these images and their counter-narrative.

State violence descended upon Ferguson; Ferguson didn’t spontaneously ignite.

As for the Brown family, Mike’s cousin Ty Pruitt summed it all up to MSNBC. “The police are getting ready for war when they should be getting ready for a trial,” he said. “That to me means they’ve already made their decision. We still feel terrible. Right now we feel about the same way we felt when [Brown] was lying dead in the middle of the street for four and a half hours.”