Ferguson October

USPCN Youth Contingent, Ferguson October, 2014

By Muhammad Sankari

About the Artist: Muhammad Sankari is a Chicago-based member of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN).  In his daily work, he is a youth organizer with the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), where he helps direct its youth-led Campaign to End Racial Profiling.  
"Ferguson October" was written in two parts, the first as a reflection of visiting Mike Brown's memorial shortly after he was murdered by the police. The second part, written as a letter to Mike Brown himself, was completed after we returned home from Ferguson October, recalling that powerful moment of working class Arab, Black, and Latino youth from Chicago taking part in an act of solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

Ferguson October

There are those who would call me infidel

For likening this place to Mecca

But I can’t think of a better way to honor the prophet

Than by having new friends lead the Fatiha in broken Arabic for the soul of Mike Brown

Stumbling 3rabi syllables followed by flawless English translation

“Bismillaah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
Al hamdu lillaahi rabbil ‘alameen
Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem Maaliki yaumid Deen
Iyyaaka na’abudu wa iyyaaka nasta’een…”

“In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help…”

In this street littered with candles & fading stuffed bears

I find the end of a ripped keffiyeh tied to a tree

Checkered red and white it’s flickering in the warm Missouri wind

I think of Ms. Jordan who reminds me

                “A tiger does not fall or stumble
                broken by an accident
                A tiger does not lose his stride or
                slip and slide to tragedy
                that buzzards feast upon.
                                                                Do not forget.”

I could call this place Montgomery, or South Africa, or Palestine, or the Congo

Could say this is another casualty of Colonialism;

Because asphalt always seems to crack the same way under the weight of oppression

And the same distinct dusty hot smell permeates every ion of occupied air

Another death attributed to a Zombie paramilitary trained by Zionism LLC

Bullets proudly stamped “made in the USA”

So that the flesh pierced by the full metal jackets never forgets its origins

But words are meaningless

And slogans echo hollow in the apartments of Ferguson

Where they watched their child gunned down like an animal

As if to remind them that hope and the human spirit are contraband

In the occupied territories of Black-Amerikkka


Cold balmy days

The streets of St. Louis

Can’t believe the concrete doesn’t crack

Against the weight of our chants

Teenage voices hoarse yet powerful

Pronounce every rhythmic syllable

“Shut it down, shut it down, If we don’t get it shut it down”

Wonder if Mike Brown knows

That Arab kids know his name

And in heavy Midwest accents clap hands and stomp feet

To the rhythm of their chants

Calling for justice

Calling for change

Mike we called for you

5,000 people calling your name in the streets-Mike

I taught our youth the chants-Mike

They’re calling for you

Want you to push out from early grave & be given a hero’s welcome

Mike we called

Want to embrace your crying mother and console her the way I know how “Allah Yir7amu inshallah”

Serve your father bitter coffee in tiny plastic cups

Because that’s how we mourn

Mike we called for you

Want you to stroll down 63rd street with the other guys

Smoke your swishers in front of the chained up JJ fish

Come up our creaking carpeted stairs and join us for our program

Mike we called for you, 30 strong in the streets- Mike

Everyone your age Mike they called

For their college friend they would never be able to meet Mike

I’m just leaving this message to let you know…We called Mike