edward crawford is the third ferguson activist to be found dead in a car

May 8, 2017
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The St. Louis activist who was the subject of one of the most iconic photos of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, was found dead last Thursday.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police told NBC News that Edward Crawford shot himself in the backseat of a car while it was moving, basing their story on two unnamed witnesses seated in the front of the vehicle.

Crawford was photographed throwing a flaming tear gas canister in the uprising that followed the killing of Michael Brown Jr. The image seemed to epitomize the new forms of resistance rising with the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, with many assuming the photo showed Crawford hurling the canister at police, though he later clarified that he was only trying to get the device away from children.

Crawford’s father, Edward Crawford Sr., says the 27-year-old was the father of four young children, had just gotten a new apartment and was training for a new job. “I don’t believe it was a suicide,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Crawford follows two other Ferguson activists found dead under similar circumstances since the uprisings. In September 2016, the body of Darren Seals was discovered inside a burning car. Seals had also been shot, and police declared the death a homicide. On the night a grand jury refused to convict the officer who fatally shot Brown in November 2014, Deandre Joshua was also found shot in the head with severe burns after being lit on fire. Seals, Crawford and Joshua were all discovered dead in a car.

As I wrote previously, activists and organizers for Black liberation have every reason to be suspicious of police accounts in these incidents and any others with such mysterious circumstances. Aside from these three deaths being all too conveniently similar, it has been well-documented that American police have been retaliating against and hell-bent on dismantling Black resistance movements since the moment they were made necessary.

The question at this point is not if police are capable of doing such things. The question is: What do we do if they are?

*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.

Banner Photo by Robert Cohen