Cat Power Calls for Peace as Mike Brown Decision Looms

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 11.18.14 in News

More than three months after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the topic is no longer front and center for the music community. But the St. Louis suburb could soon come under the world’s watchful eyes again, as yesterday Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency, anticipating a grand jury’s decision on whether to charge officer Darren Wilson. Now indie luminary Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power), who played two concerts benefiting Ferguson protesters in August, has shared a message of peace across her social media accounts.

Along with an image (below) featuring the words “PEACEFUL PROTESTS,” Marshall wrote, “Please come forward to spread word for peaceful protests after Mike Brown verdict is announced,” adding that the Ku Klux Klan “will likely appear.” Her hashtags included “#dontshoot,” “#handsup” and “#justiceformikebrown.”

“Regardless of the outcomes of the federal and state criminal investigations, there is the possibility of expanded unrest,” Missouri’s governor said in his order. “The state of Missouri will be prepared to appropriately respond to any reaction to these announcements.” The governor said in a statement the order activates the National Guard to support state and local police.

The state of the emergency lasts for 30 days unless the governor extends it. The St. Louis County prosecutor has said the grand jury’s decision is expected this month, according to the Kansas City Star; if the grand jury decides Wilson should face charges, a trial would likely follow. Federal prosecutors, who are investigating Brown’s death for potential criminal and civil claims, haven’t disclosed when they will finish their work.

NAACP head Cornell William Brooks called the state of emergency “both premature in its application and presumptuous to the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators who have embraced their constitutional right to protest.” He said in a statement the governor’s decision “only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless non-violent activists.”

Marshall’s mention of the KKK comes as, according to Newsweek, members of Anonymous have been squaring off with the group in response to threats made against Ferguson protesters. As ABC reports, the FBI has warned the grand jury decision announcement “will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure.” The FBI reportedly added in its recent bulletin, “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”

The music community was outspoken about Ferguson in the early weeks. Common brought out Brown’s parents at the BET Awards, taped September 20, following the rapper’s performance with Vince Staples and Jay Electronica. Common also called for a moment of silence for Brown at August’s MTV Video Music Awards and sent a video message to the protesters. Others speaking out on Ferguson over the past included Killer Mike, Big Boi, Janelle Monáe, Frank Ocean, T.I., Talib KweliJ. Cole, G-Unit, the Game, and Sky Ferreira.

Two of the most potent songs on this theme released since Brown’s shooting address the subject only obliquely: Lauryn Hill‘s “Black Rage (Sketch),” recorded long before the incident, and Staples’s “Hands Up,” where he raps, “Shoot him first without a warning/ And they expect respect and non-violence/ I refuse the right to be silent.”

Last month, Tom Morello released benefit single “Marching on Ferguson.” Earlier in October, protesters sang from the audience at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

The image posted by Cat Power’s Marshall is below.

Cat Power "Peaceful Protests"