FERGUSON, Mo. – Burned buildings, looted businesses and riots here may be getting the bulk of the media’s attention, but at least one group is warning the racial violence is just beginning, with black rage turning viciously against white immigrants.
Within days of the death of black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a local policeman, leftist activists from outside of Ferguson set up a protest campaign office in the besieged city. Almost immediately, what started as “peaceful protests” escalated into rampant looting. The local state senator, a black Democrat, took to the airwaves demanding justice. She would later make the ominous promise that violence would ensue were Officer Darren Wilson not charged and convicted – he wasn’t, and it did.
But some among the area’s large Bosnian population fear the fires in Ferguson were just the beginning of what is turning into a race war on St. Louis’ streets.
For example, the recent murder of immigrant Zemir Begic in a brutal hammer attack shocked the Bosnian community in south St. Louis and people across the nation.
St. Louis City Police Chief Samuel Dotson and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay rushed to deny race had anything to do with it, calling it merely a carjacking. But others like Ferguson Mayor James Knowles say there is something far more insidious going on in St. Louis and that the people of St. Louis are being used for a much more sinister aim.
The murder of Begic was not the first incident of black-on-Bosnian crime in St. Louis, but it was the first incident to be widely reported and viewed as a possible racist or xenophobic hate crime.
According to the victim’s wife and other accounts, several black teens attacked the Bosnian immigrant couple’s car, one climbing on top of the rear deck lid and pounding the car with a hammer. As Begic stopped the car to confront the attackers and protect his wife, at least four teens attacked him, beating him to death with hammers.
Three of four known suspects have been arrested. One of the attackers is Hispanic, and the other three are black. As city leaders try to dismiss the idea that the murder was racially motivated, others are not so sure.
WND spent the week on location in St. Louis, and it was clear that the Bosnian community believes this is a very targeted, intentional attack on immigrants. They say the racism against immigrants in St. Louis has been a persistent problem, but the media hasn’t reported a lot of it, and the police aren’t doing much about it.
One Bosnian resident who was attacked by a black youth, allegedly for being an immigrant who was “taking away his welfare and education money,” said she believes it takes a murder for law enforcement to act.
She believes that many of the attackers are let off the hook because of their race and because of their age. Many of those attacked or harassed told WND the attackers were very young – as young as 10 years old.
“Why aren’t they in school, or working like we are during the day, rather than causing problems for those who are trying to make this neighborhood better?” one of the victims relayed to WND.
Another Bosnian American resident, Seldin Dzananovic, 24, claims he was targeted before Begic.
“The teens with the hammers approached him farther north on Gravois,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “He fought them off.”
While police call the murder of Begic a matter of a simple carjacking gone bad, Dzananovic was assaulted while walking.
A Facebook page seeking “justice for Zemir Begic” links to a video posted by a woman who witnessed the aftermath of the assault.
Patricia Susan Pender makes a number of angry utterances while filming and describing the scene: “Right after black people running up and down the street yelling ‘F- the white people,’ ‘Kill the white people,’ this is what we have.”
Others point to numerous statements both publicly and in social media specifically calling for attacks on white people and property beginning with the boyfriend of Michael Brown’s mother, who is on another video calling for people to “burn [Ferguson] down.”
As reported in WND, an elderly white man was walking to his car in Ferguson when he was set upon and beaten by a mob – with his own oxygen tank. The attackers stole his car and drove over him with it.
The murder of Begic is only one of at least three reported black-on-white assaults, apparently racially motivated, since the Ferguson protests. As WND was putting this story together, a Bosnian woman was attacked by three black youths who brandished a gun and assaulted her with a crowbar.
The Bosnian community in St. Louis is very much on edge. WND spoke to local south city residents Sabina and Elvis Magjigliv in a Bosnian restaurant where they were the only two dining on a Friday night. They were there because they were talking to the owner of the same restaurant when a black youth banged on the back of their car. Elvis told WND as he rolled down his car window to ask what the problem was, another youth pulled a knife on them. The Magjigliv’s escaped harm and reported the crime to the police but are frustrated that nothing has been done. No media has reported the knife incident, and they live in constant fear, they said.
Almir Nesimovic sees the attacks as increasing and largely unreported: “You call the police and what do they do? They say, ‘We’ll be doing more patrols.'”
Nesimovic, who has lived most of his life in this quiet, gentrified Bosnian settlement in south St. Louis, runs a restaurant a block away from the where Zemir Begic was murdered. He has seen a serious decline in his business. He describes the constant and brazen harassment of his customers by black youth. Aside from the knife attack that occurred in his restaurant’s parking lot, he told WND the harassment of his customers by black youth in the neighborhood is relentless.
“The customer wants to leave, and they will not move (from behind your car),” Nesimovic explained. “You try to be nice. They say, ‘You go back to your country.’ This, and they’re like 10 years old.”
Asked whether they feel they are in an actual race war, Nesimovic replied, “Yes. What else? We rebuilt this neighborhood. We make it the best we can. Before the Bosnians came, this neighborhood was boarded up. Now it’s nice. We work hard. Why can’t they just work, too?”
One radical black activist, calling herself Mary Omni of the House of King David, made a YouTube video spouting the very venom the Bosnians claim they’re facing. Promoting a narrative that calls white immigrants “invaders” of land properly belonging to blacks, Omni titled her screed, “Feguson Bosnian Death Immigrant Warning.” She says in the video if an “invader” is killed, that this is acceptable collateral damage. She then goes further and calls for additional violence by repeatedly reciting the musical chorus, “If I had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning and hammer in the night.”
Nonetheless, many Bosnians told WND, they’re determined to persevere.
“We like it here,” Nesimovic said. “The people are scared. I ask myself, maybe I have to go south or something. But I am committed to here. This is my home.”