The death of Seals comes as a major blow to many who knew him in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The popular activist was in the streets from the beginning, playing a prominent role not only organizing protests but also involving himself in electoral efforts aimed at both removing existing leadership that perpetuated deep racism and classism in Ferguson, and showing the growing power of this new movement.
Seals was known for his social media commentary. He had recently taken a strong stand in defense of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem, in protest of racist police terror. Seals had also been with the family of Michael Brown the night it was announced that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted by a grand jury, and wrote movingly about that deeply frustrating experience. He has also been noted for an iconic photograph in which he is seen staring down Jeff Roorda, the absurdly pro-police-terror head of the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
The sudden death of Seals, under such violent circumstances, raises many questions. Rumors orchestrated by forces unknown circulating after his death suggested a narrative in which Seals was involved in dealing drugs, an absurd spin quickly rebutted by family and friends.
Of particular note is the way in which Seals was killed. Seals is the second Ferguson activist to be killed in the same manner. DeAndre Joshua was killed on the night in 2014 that Seals was with Michael Brown’s family: found shot in the head, and his body burned in a car near the area where Mike Brown was shot and killed. Police also claimed no leads or suspects in that execution.
Who is targeting the freedom fighters in Ferguson? There is a long history in the United States of the brutal repression of activists seeking free expression and redress of wrongs, by both the state actors and vigilantes. Some of the most memorable are the FBI’s COINTELPRO and the CIA’s Operation Chaos, designed to sow discord in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movements of the late 20th century. These covert government programs resulted in the deaths of radicals like Fred Hampton. There was also the massive Red Scare anti-communist campaign following World War II.
The rebellion in Ferguson has been the starting point of a movement that has now fully unmasked military-style police violence and terrorist tactics to the entire world. Black Lives Matter is a movement that has drawn the ire of powerful institutions within the American police system who have long feared exposure. Without jumping to conclusions, we also must insist that authorities investigate evidence pointing to the possibility of political assassination.
Eugene Puryear is host of By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.