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‘We Won’t Be Quiet!’ - A proud father, activists demand answers in death of Ferguson ‘martyr’ Darren Seals

By J.A. Salaam -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Sep 14, 2016 - 11:02:58 AM

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Activists and youth demand justice in the death of their comrade Darren Seals, Jr. Photo: J.A. Salaam
ST. LOUIS—Final good byes to Darren Seals, Jr., a prominent youth leader of the Ferguson movement for justice after the death of Mike Brown, Jr., are scheduled for the church where much of the organizing for the movement took place.

He will never, however, be forgotten by his comrades in struggle nor his family.

Darren Seals, Jr.

The 29-year-old was found with his Jeep Wrangler engulfed in flames in Riverview, Mo., another suburb of St. Louis, and died from a gunshot wound to his head, according to authorities. His funeral was scheduled for Sept. 17 at Greater St. Marks Church in Ferguson, Mo., at Final Call press time.

According to Darren Seals, Sr., the family has not heard from county police or any investigative agency. He feels the crime scene was sloppily handled with bullet casings and the door of the Jeep left in the lot.

“I’m so proud of my son for becoming who he is,” said Mr. Seals, Sr. “I spent 20 years in prison and to see him do better than me meant so much. He didn’t back down from nothing. And he knew he made people angry because he spoke his mind, so he knew something might happen to him. He said to me, ‘Daddy, if anything happens to me or I get killed know that the police did it.’ I believe him,” said Mr. Seals, Sr.

“This is a weak and sloppy, so-called investigation,” he told The Final Call in exclusive interview.

Street protest was held in St. Louis to draw attention to the killing of Ferguson, Mo., activist Darren Seals, Jr. Photo: J.A. Salaam
Witnesses at the apartment complex where the jeep was found told The Final Call that the fire department arrived shortly after midnight on Labor Day not at 1:50 a.m. as reported by the Riverview police department. The death is being investigated by the St. Louis County police department.

Darren, Jr. was one of the first to respond in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown Jr. on August 9, 2014.

Hands Up United, founder Tef Poe, is a grassroots group started after young Brown’s death fought for justice and police reform.

Many of his friends and comrades in the fight for justice are seeking answers for his death. According to various media reports, Darren, Jr., was the fifth Black man found dead, burned in a vehicle, in the St. Louis region since the spring 2014. The other men were Darnell Robinson, Antonio Jones, Terrell Beasley and DeAndre Joshua.

One of Darren, Jr.’s closest friends, Carlos Ball, believes his comrade was targeted.

“I believe he was set up by a higher power … I say that because the way he died. No one knew about this place, it was a deserted place where they found his truck. And then for him to be shot then set on fire, that’s not random that’s like a targeted hit in my opinion,” Mr. Ball added.

“We are not going to be quiet about Darren’s death, because he would not be quiet if it was me or any of us. Darren would be vocal and loud and we have to do the same thing. Darren’s death won’t be in vain and we won’t be quiet about it,” he vowed.

Darren Seals, Jr. Shown with comrades in the fight for justice and against police brutality.

On the day after Darren’s death, supporters and colleagues scouted the area where his body was found asking residents for any information that might help in their quest for answers. During an interview on the Roland S. Martin Show, friends and fellow activists shared thoughts about his death.

“Darren Seals was assassinated. We’re gonna do what we got to do to find answers. Because we don’t expect the police force or anybody of authority to really look into it the right way. Out here in Ferguson and St. Louis as a whole we don’t have no misconceptions of what’s going on out here,” said Tef Poe, a Ferguson activist and hip-hop artist.

The New Black Panther Party came to St. Louis to show support for Darren, Jr. They disrupted traffic Sept. 11 in the Central West End of St. Louis, an area frequented by Whites and others dining at sidewalk cafes and socializing. The New Black Panthers carried AR-15 assault rifles and displayed handguns while flying a red, black and green flag. “Who killed Darren Seals?” they chanted. Missouri is an open carry state for weapons.

Approximately 100 youth walked and rode on top of cars in the Central West End alongside community activists Anthony Shahid and Tory Russell.

Activist Shahid, known for his outspokenness on weak leadership, police brutality, White supremacy and injustices Blacks continue to suffer, referred to Darren, Jr., as a warrior.

“He was a frontline warrior right there with me standing up against the police in Ferguson. Right after Mike Brown was gunned down, within minutes we were right there. That young brother was fearless and he like most of our youth hate the police. Yes, I said ‘hate,’ don’t misquote me. I said they hate the police. Because they are tired of their culture of cover-up when they keep getting away with killing us and ain’t sh--t done about it. The young people are constantly being harassed, thrown on the ground, having their pants pulled down and the brothers are treated like dogs in front of their women. Darren spoke for the youth and he wasn’t no punk,” said Mr. Shahid.

Abdul Akbar Muhammad, an aide to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, recalled Darren as a young man influenced by the Taheed Youth Group co-founded by Anthony Shahid. Many of the young people from that group went on to become politicians, teachers, business owners and respectful leaders, he said.

Darren, Jr., spoke last October at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington at the invitation of Min. Farrakhan.

Darren Seals, Jr, in foreground, poses with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in 2015 during his visit to Ferguson, Mo. At far right is activist Anthony Shahid and second from right is activist Tory Russell. Photo: Cartan X Mosley

“When the Minister heard about his death, he wanted to know what was being done about his death and what really happened. Minister Farrakhan said that Seals was not a protestor or just an activist but called him a martyr,” said Mr. Muhammad.

Within the first 48 hours after a post of his jeep on fire hit Facebook, close to 50,000 people viewed the tragic image. The way he was killed rekindled anger and resentment toward police officers, who he clashed with and complained about.

After a vigil was held to remember Darren, Jr., at the place where his body was found, several of his friends gathered to clean up debris left from the jeep.

“This is not right he didn’t deserve this, he was so humble and knew everybody and he just wanted to get justice. He always helped people. He start showing out after Mike Brown passed away. He made sure everything was okay,” said Kecia Bailey, a classmate of Darren, Jr.’s who came out with her three-year-old son.

The distrust of police and charges of harassment were constant and Darren, Jr., went on Facebook live after being stopped by Ferguson police officers in June 2016.

“I be telling people all the time, they (police) be following my pages, they watch me, they got me under surveillance, I don’t mind because I know who my enemies is. And I know what I’m up against these mother-----s, the biggest problem is when the same people I stand for and fight for fight against me … These (police) will blow your head off. They will kill me, my brother. They will kill your grandmother, they don’t care about us. These mother-----s at war with us. But they gonna learn I don’t fear nothing, I don’t fear death. Nothing!” he said over the social media platform.

A person who said he witnessed the car explode spoke with The Final Call on condition of anonymity for fear for his life. “I was just chilling that night when I heard like a clutch or something on the side of the building, the dude couldn’t drive a stick he ran into the bushes before he got on the lot, kept hitting the clutch, but he finally got it parked,” said the eyewitness.

“And then he hopped in the other cars and left, he had dreads and some socks on his hands when he got out the jeep. About five minutes later I saw the White guy come up the street. I wasn’t paying attention to him because I’m thinking he just walking and he trying to come find something (drugs). Then boom (the car exploded). He took off running straight through the woods. The whole car was engulfed in flames and it was so hot the driver door fell off, and the spare tire melted that was on the back and fell off the car. Only two police officers showed up. St. Louis County Police didn’t show up. No gun shots happened out here. He did not get shot out here at all,” the witness insisted.


He nervously added, “I said that was no regular gas because for one, it exploded too fast. It was a jeep and it’s not that much of flammable stuff in there besides the engine. It was like somebody shot at it to make it blow up. It exploded that fast ... So then the way that we knew it was a body in there was because when the firefighter was putting the fire out he looked in there and you could tell by his facial expression that something was wrong. Because he literally put the hose down and backed back and was just like ‘oh s—t’ and went to the officer and that’s when they put the tape up. I sat outside all night and they were taking different body parts from all angles of the car. They didn’t take him out in one whole piece. I thought maybe they were taking out guns or something to be honest with you but he came out in pieces. That man did not come out whole.”

 An emotional Tory Russell, a Ferguson organizer and founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance, said, “The dear brother Darren Seals’ impact on the movement will be severely missed. A man who helped us organize the militant resistance that the world saw in Ferguson was a great movement leader, mentor to the youth in the streets, and a man who gave me counsel when I had to make tough decisions. If we are to honor his legacy we should lead like D Seals did with an unwavering love for Black people and to speak the truth when others are afraid to.”

According to Riverview police, the St. Louis County Police Department is investigating the death and has not identified a motive at this time.