On Saturday (March 11), filmmaker Jason Pollock debuted “Stranger Fruit,” his documentary about the death of Michael Brown, at South by Southwest. The film included previously unreleased footage that shows that Michael Brown visited Ferguson Market—the store he was accused of robbing—just hours before his August 2014 death and appeared to conduct a friendly transaction with workers there.
Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson Police Department officer who killed Brown, claimed that he approached the unarmed 18-year-old because of the alleged robbery. A video of that interaction was widely circulated following his death.
A portion of the new footage appears below:
New footage challenges the police narrative that Mike Brown committed a strong-armed robbery https://t.co/SCOMELaX0x pic.twitter.com/XXNY3Wc7st
— alex medina (@mrmedina) March 12, 2017
An attorney for the convenience store told The New York Times that the new narrative is a false one. “There was no transaction,” Jay Kanzler said. “There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
Yesterday (March 13), St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch released five videos from Brown’s earlier visit to the store, saying that Pollock’s footage was “poorly edited” and “pathetic.” The Washington Post video below compiles McCulloch’s videos:
Local organizer Tory Russell, mission director for The International Black Freedom Alliance, issued a statement on the latest developments in Ferguson:
Some of us knew about this video but were unable to obtain it. Presumably because it would’ve given credence to the narrative from witnesses and protest organizers that Ferguson Police and prosecutors selectively presented evidence in the case. … The Ferguson Market for years has received free range to sell drugs in the Black side of Ferguson while the community complained to the police department to no avail. … Why were the store clerks not brought up on drug charges as any other Black person in St. Louis would have been if they were caught on camera selling drugs? … When will Mike Brown Jr. and his family receive justice?
The revelation of the previously unreleased video sparked protests at Ferguson Market over the weekend.
#FergusonMarket has some police presence pic.twitter.com/JL8z6FZX5C
— Search4Swag (@search4swag) March 13, 2017
A group of organizers released a set of demands yesterday. They appear below, as emailed to Colorlines:
On the behalf of the thousands of Ferguson residents who still seek justice for themselves and Mike Brown Jr. our demands are as follows:
Demand 1: We are asking for Missouri’s new attorney general Josh Hawley to re-open the case of the killing of Mike Brown Jr. and to appoint a special prosecutor.
Demand 2: Release and drop all charges against protesters dating back to August 9th of 2014 and return all bail or bond money to those protestors.
Demand 3: We’re demanding that an special public and independent investigation on how St.Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch handled the Mike Brown Jr. case to ensure that no misconduct has occurred.
Demand 4: We’re demanding that St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar resign for his mishandling of the investigation into the shooting death of Mike Brown Jr. and for how he intentionally put forth video showing Mike Brown in a negative light.
Demand 5: We are asking that the Ferguson Market be shut down immediately for being involved in drug trafficking.