Philly spoken word artist collective discusses Ferguson shooting

A protester watches the confrontation between the police and demonstrators on Aug. 18, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbes)

Members of the spoken word collective, Spoken Soul 215, held a forum to engage artists and art lovers in a discussion about the fatal shooting of Black teen Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.

Last week Spoken Soul 215, a Philadelphia based spoken word collective, held the forum during its monthly “open mic” event called “The Harvest,” which is held at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St. in West Philadelphia.

Members of the public were encouraged to give their comments, suggestions and criticism. The forum wasn’t a display of complaints, yet, suggestions and solutions were offered and requested by the panelists.

Panelist, Farugh Maat, is a member of the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition and described the forum as a gathering of diverse groups, organizations and concerned artists who wanted to come together and present solutions to the problem of police brutality.

“Basically I just wanted to give out the information about the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and they have a link that you could download to record activities with the police,” Maat said.

According to Maat, once the application is downloaded, it begins live streaming activities so that even if the respective phones are confiscated by officers, the recordings are available online.

“I think we need to use the Internet to its advantage,” said one member of the audience during the question and answer phase of the meeting.

“I think we need to use the Internet to our advantage,” said another during the forum’s question and answer segment. “The only reason we know about Egypt is because of the Internet, the only way we know about Palestinians and Ferguson is because of Twitter,” he said.

The guests suggested the media-broadcast (social and print) should be used to the people’s advantage.

While the growing number of incidents involving police shootings of unarmed Black men took center stage during the meeting, there was also much focus on personal responsibility of Blacks to ensure their own personal safety and well-being.

“The relationship between Black people and the police have never been good,” said an attendee.

Others spoke about the need for the public to learn how to deal with the police and noted often members of the community deal in an emotional way that is counter productive. Training would help teach citizens the proper way of dealing with such confrontations.

“If we don’t stand together then we are going to be victimized as individuals,” Maat said. “If we stand together in unity, they can’t do anything with us.”

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