When thinking of the 2014 Ferguson protests, many forget their political prisoners. The positive impact of the Black Lives Matter movement did not save Ferguson protestors—who rose up in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black man—from getting lost in the emotional burden and politics of social justice. In fact, the last political prisoner from Ferguson, Josh Williams, is seeking parole after serving an eight-year sentence for a charge fabricated with little evidence. When Williams was locked away, he was only 19—still a teenager. Years later, many Black youth organizers and activists are fighting to protect their rights and personal freedom.
The 2020 protests in the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others slain by police and racial terror catalyzed change toward equity across the world. While protests decreased toward the end of the year, many Black youth change-makers are currently facing serious repercussions for challenging the system.
Over the course of the summer, police used many tactics to suppress the protests and subsequent demands of the Black Lives Matter movement. Between May 26 and June 5 alone, Amnesty International documented 125 incidents of police brutality at protests across the nation. The assaults spurred a number of articles that educated the public on police suppression tactics such as kettling and the use of unmarked vehicles. These tactics, which use herding techniques to confine and isolate groups of protesters, along with unidentifiable police transports, traumatized victims who were taken for targets and observers. In some cases, police targeted and isolated individuals they considered leaders of the movement.
Between July and August 2020, Tianna Arata, Derrick “Dwreck” Ingram, and Jalen Kobayashi were targeted by local police officers for demanding justice and seeking systemic change. They spoke with Complex about their experiences and the unfortunate aftermaths of the 2020 summer protests.