October 17, 2019 marked the one year anniversary of the murder of Danye Jones. A candlelit vigil was held by family members at their old home, and they are still looking for answers. To mark this occasion, we are republishing this piece, originally written directly after his death, as his family continues to fight for justice.
By Toussaint Louverture
The soul of the tight knit activist community that grew out of the Ferguson uprising and the black masses of Saint Louis (interchangeable — every black person who lived through that period and every black person with a sense of justice and common sense in general since the year 1619 is an activist of some sort) was yet again torn on October 17th, 2018, when the son of activist Melissa McKinnies, Danye Dion Jones, was found hanging from a tree in his mother’s backyard. The pictures are available widely on Facebook, made public by his mother, echoing the decision by Mamie Till in a pre-digital and pre-internet era to open her son Emmett’s casket to the world’s magazines and newspapers. This to demonstrate the continued abuse and genocide we as a people face.
For all intents and purposes, this might as well be 1955. Progress under imperialism is a myth white liberals and pseudo-revolutionaries tell to console themselves and avoid being called to task for their complicity and impotence. This is the latest in a series of suspicious murders and attacks on black activists in Saint Louis. This was not a suicide. People that commit suicide by hanging themselves do not tie their own legs and not have anything to jump from.
Darren Seals (D Seals), a visible and vocal proletarian activist (he worked the line at General Motors) was found shot dead in a burning car in the 9600 block of Diamond Drive in Riverview on September 6, 2016. Two years earlier, on the night that the non-indictment of Darren Wilson was announced, DeAndre Joshua was found murdered in the exact same fashion near Canfield Green. Shot in the head, burning car. Edward Crawford, who was photographed tossing tear gas back at the police in Ferguson to protect black children, allegedly shot himself in the back seat of a moving car.
These are not accidents, or mistakes, or coincidences. There is a targeted, careful, directed conspiracy to eradicate or intimidate proletarian black leadership in Saint Louis. Darren Seals in particular was known for his untiring and uncompromising critique of reformists and opportunists who had weaseled their way into the movement for a few dollars. This is nothing new. This is political violence from which African people in the US have suffered since we began organizing ourselves politically for our liberation.
Lynching, or extrajudicial execution (execution without trial) is a favorite in the arsenal of white supremacist capital as a weapon to attempt to strike fear into the hearts of our people. Other tools are co-optation as demonstrated by the wining and dining of opportunist, pro-capitalist elements like DeRay McKesson and the isolation/denial of media access to real proletarian activists like D Seals. Whenever you see someone being paraded around CNN and MSNBC as an “activist”, listen to the words that come out of their mouths and I guarantee you it’ll be lockstep with neoliberal party line. Malcolm X, Robert F. Williams, and yes, Martin Luther King, Jr. were hounded, harassed, and in the case of the first and last eventually killed for the threat they not just posed to individual laws but to the system and idea of Yankee imperialism itself.
This same process is at work in Saint Louis post-Ferguson. If you are known for causing problems for the police, they will harass you. It’s like this all over the country. They clock off and put on Klan robes. Their fraternal orders and police unions are essentially Blue Mafias, using taxpayer money to fund taxpayer abuse. Families of victims of police actions or known activists, particularly the family of Isaiah Hammett, are targeted for harassment raids, stops, arrests, and other things. “Free-casing”, or trumping up and manufacturing of charges, the manipulation of various forms of gossip and police use of the frequent Facebook and Twitter quarrels that take place among activists to work up splits, the labeling of genuine revolutionary elements as “paid protestors”, and other tactics from the COINTELPRO handbook up to and including outright murder have been used in the streets of Saint Louis since August 2014 to avoid the mass movement obtaining real political power and to isolate/eliminate those who most thoroughly promote a proletarian revolutionary line, meaning one that stands for the violent overthrow of the system which currently exists and kills our people.
Talking to people and investigating in North County where many people know someone who has been harassed and freecased as a result of activism will demonstrate the necessity of conducting a thorough study of the law and taking care of each other to stifle these police plots in the cradle. Furthermore, although guns are by no means magic talismans (Medgar Evers was armed when he was shot in the back in 1963), it is essential that anyone who claims to be an activist or revolutionary arm themselves if they are serious. This is not a game. They are killing us. They never stopped.