Ferguson, Missouri people on Michael Brown killing in context

Black and white residents have joined protests on the streets of Ferguson. Photograph: MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Saturday 23 August 2014 13.30 BST …

Ferguson‘s white Republican mayor, James Knowles, is clear: he will tell anyone who listens that there is no racial divide in the town, which has been hit by a fortnight of protest over the killing of a young African American, Michael Brown, by a white policeman. …

The nightly protests, which initially had police behaving as if they were on the streets of Baghdad confronting protesters who saw riot gear as further provocation, suggested a city at war with itself. …

Craig Kidd, who works in construction and lives in one of the most integrated neighbourhoods, joined the nightly demonstrations. “I think that cops who don’t know how to use guns should be disarmed,” he said. “It wasn’t just the Michael Brown shooting. The second shooting [in St Louis of Kajieme Powell] was shocking. The police created chaos at the demonstrations. Using teargas was horrible. Clearly they can’t be trusted.”

Kidd sees divisions mostly on class lines. “I think that in a town which is two-thirds black there’s going to be more poor black people than white,” he said. “I live in a poorer neighbourhood. I never felt anybody was hating on me because I’m white.” …

Many African Americans in the city say part of the problem is that no one is listening to them. They describe themselves as virtually invisible other than to be viewed as a problem. And while Knowles has tried to suggest that those who are disgruntled are transient outsiders with few links to the city, that ignores the anger that has been fermenting among many of Ferguson’s long-term black residents.

Fletcher, the former mayor, was among leading citizens who called a public meeting at a Baptist church to talk about the crisis. …

The meeting was intended to consider ways to bridge divides but, while the church was close to full, fewer than a dozen black people attended. Fletcher struggled to explain why. …

But black people on the streets of Ferguson said they didn’t know about the meeting because almost no effort had been made to communicate with them. …

No one in the church mentioned the conduct of the police – the issue at the forefront in much of the rest of Ferguson – until one of the few black men in the audience, Byron Conley, brought it up. “I didn’t see our police officers coming out to talk to the kids. I’m asking every officer to come to my street and just say ‘hi’ to us,” he said. Conley said he invited police officers to barbecues but they never came, which surprised white members of the audience who said they regularly turn up to theirs.

The tragic killing of college-bound teenager Michael Brown has raised questions about the frequency with which police kill unarmed black men in America. The answer, unfortunately, is far too often: here.

28 thoughts on “Ferguson, Missouri people on Michael Brown killing in context

  1. Anyone who says there is no racial divide is surely deaf, dumb, blind and stupid. To continue as we are in Ferguson and across America can only ensure things will never change. Yes, even many whites are outraged but that outrage dies out and there are no changes. That is how we got here in 2014. 😦


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