The death of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was a watershed moment in race relations in America. Brown was shot dead by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson while his arms were raised. It led to the rallying cry from supporters of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Now more than four years later, Ferguson, Missouri, is back in the news after several young Black male activists in the city are dead. According to The New York Times and Associated Press as well as previous reports in rolling out, at least six young men have died in the Ferguson area.
— In September 2016, Darren Seals, 29, was found dead in a burning car. He was shot multiple times, and police have no leads in his death.
— In February 2016, MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, was found dead outside the entrance to the Ohio state capitol building. Police have stated that his death was a suicide. He was an activist in the Ferguson protests.
— In May 2017, Edward Crawford Jr., 27, who famously was seen throwing a tear gas canister back at police during protests, allegedly committed suicide. A photograph of Crawford won a Pulitzer Prize for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
— On Oct. 17, 2018, Danye Jones, 24, was found hanging from a tree. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, was a member of the grassroots organization Lost Voices that protested Brown’s death. McKinnies claims her son was lynched after a series of death threats. When rolling out interviewed Sgt. Shawn McGuire, the public information supervisor with the St. Louis County Police Department, about Jones’ death, he said all indications pointed to a suicide.
— In November 2018, Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American who live-streamed video of Ferguson protests, collapsed on a bus and could not be resuscitated. Police said that he died of an apparent fentanyl overdose in February 2019, according to a toxicology report.
All six deaths have raised the specter of an ongoing conspiracy in perhaps one of the most heated racial events in recent American history.