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By Associated Press
FERGUSON, Mo. – Two young men were found dead in burning cars. Three more people died of suicide. Another collapsed in a bus, his death caused an overdose.
Six deaths involving men involved in protests in Ferguson, Missouri, called attention to social media and speculated in the activist community that something sinister was at stake. [19659007DiePolizeisagtesgibtkeineBeweisedafürdassdieTodesfällemitdenProtestenzutunhabendieaufdenTodeines18-jährigenMichaelBrowndurcheinenweißenPolizeibeamtenzurückzuführensindunddassnurzweiMordfälleohneVerbindungzudenProtestenwaren
Some say activists, their concern about a possible link arises from a culture of fear that persists death in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown, and threats – are cited, continue to receive the protest leaders – mostly anonymous.
Rev. Darryl Gray said he found a box in his car. When the bomb squad arrived, no explosives were found, but there was a 6-foot python inside.
"Everyone has needle and needle," Gray said of his fellow combatants.
No arrests were made during the two murders. St Louis police spokesman Shawn McGuire said witnesses had simply refused to report and left the detectives unanswered as to why the men were being targeted.
"We do not think either was connected," McGuire said. But he added, "It's hard to develop a motive without a suspect."
Ferguson protested in August 2014 after Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown during a roadside confrontation. Brown was unarmed, but Wilson said he had fired in self-defense when the black teen approached him threateningly.
A grand jury declined to sue Wilson in November 2014, causing one of the most violent demonstration nights and one of the most violent demonstrations in First Activist Deaths.
Deandre Joshua was found in a burned car block before the protest. The 20-year-old was shot in the head before the car was set on fire.
Darren Seals, shown the same night in a video that comforts Brown's mother, experienced an almost identical fate two years later. In September 2016, the 29-year-old's spherical body was found in a burning car.
Four others died, three of them suicides.
– MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, shot himself in front of the door of the Ohio Statehouse in February 2016, police said. He had been active in Ferguson.
– Edward Crawford Jr., 27, shot himself dead in May 2017 after telling acquaintances he was upset over personal problems, the police said. A photograph of Crawford firing a tear gas canister onto the police during a protest by Ferguson was part of the Pulitzer Prize's coverage of St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
– In October, 24-year-old Danye Jones was jailed from hanging a tree in the yard of his home north of St. Louis County. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, was active in Ferguson and posted after her son's death on Facebook: "They gy- ched my baby." But death was a suicide. Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American The live streaming video of the Ferguson demonstrations was found unresponsed in a bus in November and could not be revived. The toxicology results published in February showed that he died of an overdose of fentanyl.
The Ferguson Movement protests added momentum to the national Black Lives Matter movement. With continuing anger, activists and observers say they may not see a clear connection between the deaths and the protests, but they must wonder about the thoroughness of the investigation.
"These demonstrators and their deaths may not be high (police) have priority because there is an antagonistic relationship," said Washington University sociologist Odis Johnson. "I think there is a need for more urgency."
Activists say they have been dangerously attacked in the years since the protests.
"Something's happening," said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests. "I have been vocalizing the things I've experienced and have been experiencing – harassment, intimidation, death threats and death attempts."
Bush said her car was run off the street, her home was running She was vandalized and in 2014 a bullet shot into her car, missing her then thirteen-year-old daughter.
She suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers. Life under constant threat was exhausting, she said, but she would not give in.
"They stop us and win," Bush said.
It is unclear whether rest stress caused by the protests or harassment has contributed to suicides, but Johnson said many activists feel a sense of hopelessness.
"This must have a major impact on their mental health," Johnson said. "For many, prosecution is not an appeal. Often the prosecution is not on their side.
Experts say the deaths also point to a concern at the center of the protests – the underlying difficulty of living for colored teens. Five of the men who died were blacks at the age of 20.
Black St. Louis County residents are three times more likely than whites. They are often poor, which means they do not have adequate health insurance that allows them to treat not only physical ailments but mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
They also live in areas with higher crime rates. The US Census of 2010 showed that people living in the wealthy and largely white west of St. Louis County can expect life in the 1980s, but life expectancy in parts of the predominantly black north of St. Louis County can only be expected in the 60s is enough. The life expectancy in Kinloch, a few miles from Ferguson, is 56.  Of the county's 60 murder victims, 45 were dead last year in a district in which, according to police statistics, less than a quarter of the population is black. 19659036] "Unfortunately, here in St. Louis, we have transformed the culture of crime and violence into dimensions that are threatened every day and every time," said James Clark of the non-profit Better Family Life organization.