Tragically, one of the first street protestors to organize in Ferguson following the killing of unarmed and black Michael Brown has become the dreaded hashtag. According to the St. Louis American, 29-year-old Seals was found about 1:50 a.m. in Riverview, St. Louis County by police. He was found shot in a burning car once the flames engulfing it were extinguished. Police believe he was shot before he was ‘laced in the car’ and the car was set on fire, and his death is being investigated as a homicide.
Both his death and life are now the subjects of mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in Matroyshka dolls and conspiracies, please allow me to paraphrase it.
Starting with ‘the crime scene’: from the surprisingly good coverage at the Guardian:
“More than 100 people gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at the site where Seals’ body was found, friends said. Activists who attended the vigil said they were furious to find that police had not taped off the crime scene, and that there were still bullet casings on the ground they thought police should have collected as evidence.
“We were literally stepping on the ashes from his car and his body,” said Tamara “Bates” Dodd, a St Louis hip-hop artist and activist. “That was probably the thing that shook me up the most, seeing little kids walking past, not knowing what they’re standing on.”
How diligent of the po-po, no? It leaves speculation wide open as to why or why not. If the casings were police issue, surely the shooter/s would have (ahem) policed them, unless they were from a different sort of gun available to police. But if this were being sold as a ‘gangland style assassination’, one might simply leave the casings from a knowingly untraceable gun.
Seals, on whose Twitter page (@KingDSeals) self-identified as “Businessman, Revolutionary, Activist, Unapologetically BLACK, Afrikan in AmeriKKKa, Fighter, Leader” was often harassed by local police, and had apparently often followed close behind Bassem Marsi as he live-streamed protests in order to keep him safe. The Guardian page has a Facebook video he’d put up explaining the level of harassment.
He was definitely a lightning rod within the greater Ferguson anti-police state movement, and made it clear that he was NOT a part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and for some interesting reasons. One, that the movement put LGBT women out front as the originators of the movement, which not only disregarded straight black males, but post-dated the original protests organized by him and a few of his homies, some of whom, including Tory Russell, formed ‘HandsUpUnited’. Some believed he was at least a bit on the homophobic and misogynistic side; as to that I can’t say. Seals and friends also railed against the injustice that while they stayed home to make things better in Ferguson, others:
“‘The job hasn’t got done’
Several activists said that some of Seals’ criticisms of the national movement resonated with them.
“We all kind of felt like we were kind of getting other people rich and getting other people fame for our oppression,” Masri said.
“We were left here to suffer from the systemic abuse from the police. And, like, I don’t care about credit, as long as the job gets done. But the thing is, the job hasn’t got done.”
The national movement’s current demands “are in a language that I don’t speak”, his friend and fellow activist Tory Russell said. “This movement jargon, this terminology, are not for working people. The movement is not geared towards working-class black people, and D Seals could always call that out.”
Seals had been mentoring young hip-hop artists and recently switched to a lower-paying shift at his job at General Motors in order to give him more time to do community work and take care of his mother and brother, Russell said.” [snip]
“Two weeks after Brown’s death, Seals and his fellow activists held a food drive and event for families at Canfield Green, where Brown was killed. That Christmas, they held an event giving gifts to local kids in need dubbed Hood Santa.” [snip]
“Masri said that he hoped to raise money to found the Darren Seals Youth Community Center in his friend’s honor, so the community could finally bring one of Seals’ dreams to reality. Seals had wanted the center to be staffed by people with street backgrounds and formerly incarcerated people, and to offer jobs programs and practical training on everything from how to open a bank account, to how to vote, to how to stay out of trouble by buying a gun legally.
Though Seals had pushed to get support for a youth center, other, more established groups had been able to moved forward, and Seals had not, Russell said.
“It seems like the same people – the NAACPs – the same people keep getting the resources,” he said. People like Seals, “who live in the community, really trying to change it for real – unfortunately die or get killed before change happens, and they never get it see it”.
So yes; he’d been furious that many of the ‘official brand names’ in the national movement had coopted the movement…and the money that was given to the movement to help Ferguson. His homie Spook, @DhorubaShakur, doesn’t mince words, nor did Seals. The spats got so heavy that Shaun King had tried, and perhaps at least somewhat successfully, to intervene to heal their rift.
Among those he called out, his loudest yells were at DeRay McKesson, and he in fact once slapped him in the face after DeRay had allegedly smirked when Darren had asked him where all the money had gone.
You may remember that when Drew Franklin had interviewed TFA #BLM Celebrity brand McKesson on the phone twice, the TFA grifter had declined to answer first, then obfuscated…second.
There was also a lot of speculation among their HU group that white money had begun funding the greater movement, and sorry, but I haven’t watched it all.
It’s been impossible not to notice that nettaaaaa, brownblaze, deray, msPakyetti and a few others were what the Guardian author Lois Beckett called ‘restrained’ in noting Seals’ murder in the Twitterverse.
Yes, he’s bitter:
But given the bad blood evident in the splintered movement, it seems to have been inevitable that rubbish like this would pop up, and the Potemkin query here is stated rather factually underneath the many links I have on Seals’ murder:
Via Black Agenda Radio:
“Blacks Suspect Police Involvement in Ferguson Activist’s Death
Darren Seals, who gained national attention as part of community resistance to massive police repression in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of Michael Brown, in 2014, was found shot to death and incinerated in his car last week. “The word on the streets is that somebody paid $10,000 for it to happen, it was police-motivated,” said Edwin Chanell, who collaborated on various projects with Seals. “He was an activist from the streets, trying to bring the community together.” Chanell’s New Generation Black Council works with gang members in Greater St. Louis.”
NGBC on Twitter
But in case all of this isn’t weird enough, from the Root:
“This is the second time in less than two years that a young black man with some connection with the Ferguson uprising has been found dead inside a car after being shot and set on fire.
In November 2014, during the protests that followed a grand jury’s refusal to indict Wilson in Brown’s shooting death, DeAndre Joshua, 20, was found shot once in the head inside a burning car. Bloodied glass was discovered on the ground beside his white Pontiac Grand Prix, right next to Canfield Green Apartments, where Michael Brown Jr. was slain.
At the time of Joshua’s death, his grandmother Renita Towns had little hope that their family would receive justice. “Police don’t care—he’s black,” she said at the time.
There have been no arrests in Joshua’s case.”