Why Are So Many Ferguson Protesters Dying? Activists Wonder if They're Being Targeted

The six deaths of Ferguson protesters have caused concern among activists.
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Since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, six prominent demonstrators have died under mysterious circumstances, leading some to wonder whether they're being targeted.

Since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, six prominent demonstrators have died under mysterious circumstances, leading some to wonder whether they're being targeted.  

Violent protests broke out in Ferguson after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. After a grand jury declined to indict Wilson months later in November, the unrest erupted again. 

Now, nearly five years later, the deaths of six protesters — some ruled murders, some suicides and one, an overdose — over the years are attracting attention online. 

The murders of Deandre Joshua, 20, in 2014 and Darren Seals, 29, in 2016, were eerily similar. Both were shot while in their car and then their vehicles were set on fire. Police have said they don’t believe the murders are connected. They both remain unsolved.

Three other men who participated in the protests — MarShawn McCarrel, Edward Crawford Jr. and Danye Jones — died by what police have ruled as suicides. 

McCarrel reportedly shot himself outside of the Ohio Statehouse in 2016. Crawford Jr., known for the viral photograph of him throwing a tear gas canister during the Ferguson riots in 2014,  reportedly shot himself as well. Jones, meanwhile, was found hanging from a tree. 

A sixth death, that of Bassem Masri, was ruled to be an overdose on fentanyl

But local activists think something more disturbing is at work. 

Jones' mother, Melissa McKinnies, told InsideEdition.com she doesn’t believe her son killed himself and said the family had been the victims of intimidation attempts leading up to her son’s death. 

“There were seven occasions when cars with tinted windows would sit in front of our house and when we would approach them and they would drive off,” McKinnies said of the months before her son died.

Another time, she said, six police officers stood outside staring at her home for no apparent reason.

She added that Jones was not suicidal and the sheet that they found him hanging from was tied in military knots, which her son did not know how to tie. She also said he had blood spatter on his shirt and a bruise on his eye.

The St. Louis County Police Department did not respond to InsideEdition.com's request for comment but previously said there were no signs of foul play in Jones' death.

“That night that it happened, he was downstairs studying because he was so excited about real estate business he had just started, to go from that attitude to go to what they said was suicide….” McKinnies said, pausing. “He never believed in suicide because of our religious beliefs.”

Missouri State Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, who is an activist and a part of the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeted that she thinks the deaths are not coincidental.

Chapelle-Nadal also previously told the Root that there are a number of militia groups in the area. 

“I have to take the conspiracy seriously. I do not have the privilege of ignoring some of these incidents,” Chapelle-Nadal told InsideEdition.com.

Cori Bush, a leader among Ferguson protesters, told The Chicago Tribune that her fellow activists are fearful.

"Something is happening," Bush said.