So with our third post in this Ferguson series, we meet our first victim who was a central figure in the protests – Darren Seals. This also makes him the first to fall in line with the sensationalist headlines that sparked this series (i.e. “six young black men tied to the Ferguson Uprising have been found dead”). So – who was Darren Seals, and why was he found dead in his car on September 6, 2016? Let’s explore.
Who Was Darren?
Darren Seals was born on May 15, 1987. He knew the Brown family from his childhood into his adulthood. He had deep ties to the community in Ferguson, a passion for music, and a dream of opening a youth center in the community he cared so deeply for. He made efforts to make his community a better place – for example, he was known to buy Christmas gifts for kids to ensure they had something, paying for them out of his own pocket. He had known the Brown family since he was a child. In 2013, Darren was shot six times while standing outside of his cousin’s house – which only strengthened his resolve to improve his community.
How Was Darren Involved With the Uprising?
In the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting, Darren provided emotional support to the Brown family. He actively protested Michael Brown’s shooting, police brutality, and white supremacy. He was not afraid to stand on the front lines of the Uprising and make his voice heard. He was well-respected within both the Uprising and the community as a whole. Darren’s fellow protestors did not always agree with his bluntness, though. Darren was very vocal about holding local politicians accountable for the promises they made in regards to change. It’s worth noting that it is now 2022, and meaningful change has yet to come. Personally, I think accountability is the lowest bar and the tiniest of steps forward.
Darren also co-founded an organization called HandsUp United, which is “is a collective of politically engaged minds building towards the liberation of oppressed Black, Brown and poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy and agriculture.”
Darren’s body was found burned in his Jeep Wrangler just outside of St. Louis on September 6, 2016. When investigators arrived on the scene, the car was still actively on fire. The investigation and autopsy would later show that he had been shot and died prior to being moved to the car – meaning, at least, he was not burned alive. But does all this seem familiar? Because it should. DeAndre Joshua was murdered in much the same way. Though investigators worked with the community and followed any tip they could, the case remains unsolved to this day.
Again, three seems to be a key number when it comes to the theories in this case. Of course, this is not a comprehensive accounting of what could have happened, but just the most logical or most mentioned theories. First, there is the idea that this was a random killing or a case of mistaken identity. This doesn’t seem particularly likely to me, as the method of the murder is so similar to DeAndre Joshua’s murder (and others).
It seems more likely to me that the person (or group of people) that killed DeAndre killed Darren as well. That number of people being shot and found in a burned or burning car instantly arouses suspicion. It absolutely seems possible that this is the MO of some sort of gang or “vigilante” group. Now, if they’re “vigilantes,” I’ve got no clue what they’re fighting for, but that may be what they consider themselves.
The last and most insidious theory is that Darren was murdered for being a figurehead of the Uprising. We know he was incredibly outspoken and a leader within the community and the Uprising itself. He was pushing hard for change, and rightfully so. But I am sure there were many people on the wrong side of history that believed he was “making trouble” and wanted to put an end to it.
Ultimately, we don’t know what happened to Darren, and we likely won’t know unless someone comes forward with information. His death was a loss for the whole community, and they deserve answers. His family deserves answers.