The Ferguson Police Department is now wearing lapel cameras. The department began doing so three weeks to the day that unrest in Ferguson began with the shooting death of 18-year-old unarmed teen Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.
Ferguson mayor James Knowles told those in attendance of a special St. Louis Public Radio town hall forum last week entitled “Ferguson and Beyond” that the department had been equipped with cameras, though he said he was unsure when officers would begin using them.
Police Officers everywhere should be required to wear body cameras. It will help ensure they act in an ethical manner, and provide evidence of their actions as well as those of citizens. I hope more departments will make use of these cameras because police brutality is out of control.
On Saturday afternoon, Tarah Taylor, a labor organizer from Houston, knocked on St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s door in Kirkwood.
A group of nine young people stood behind her anxiously waiting for a response.
“Unfortunately he wasn’t home,” she said, “but if he was home, I would have told him that the people of Ferguson have lost faith in the county being able to review this case fairly and it’s imperative that he listen to them.”
Taylor drove 12 hours from Texas to join a group of 400 young people from around the country for the “Black Lives Matter Ride” – a call to action to end state violence against black people. Joining local activists, the “riders” participated in several actions on Saturday, including the National March on Ferguson, a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department and a picnic to raise the moral among the Ferguson community.
And, about 25 people canvassed in Kirkwood educating the prosecutor’s neighbors about why he should recuse himself from the Michael Brown case. McCulloch is overseeing the investigation into the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.
“That’s the ethical thing to do and the right thing to do to move forward towards healing in this community,” Taylor said.
“Although the response to Michael’s death was atypical, some would argue that the social context that gave rise to his death was normal,” said M.K. Stallings, of the History Museum.
“The racial disparities indicate law enforcement targeting African Americans is normal. Being stopped by reasons unclear to the person subject to that type of policing is normal. Some people are concerned about the idea that this community is about to return to normal.”
That didn’t seem to be an option as Powell addressed the people who filled the foyer and lined up both sides of the stairwell.
“We’re going to be here for a while, but this isn’t the end – this is the beginning,” Powell said. “Hashtag Ferguson is all over the world, y’all – and nothing is going to change if we don’t come together as sisters and brothers.”
Though the goals were outcomes, action plans and takeaways, much of the dialogue was rooted in personal narrative about their experience in the trenches of West Florissant – protesting Brown’s death and standing up against police aggression.
“As I saw young brothers and sisters out there marching, my first thought wasn’t ‘stop, wait out the process’ or ‘y’all should vote,’” Powell said. “I thought ‘we’ve been voting for a long time. Let’s be real about this.’ My first thought was that it was incredible that these young people were saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore.’”
They expressed their sentiments on “#Ferguson” through personal accounts, poetry and even song. Washington University’s poetry collective WU Slam performed a portion of their poem “Black Boy.”
Black boy born to die.
Black boys get stole. Black boys sink on standing ground. Black boy sink in court of law. Schools sink black boys.
Black boys sink down into the ground.
Born to die dead at birth.
Straight A black boy, better get that degree, because black boy got to apply to be free – and even then that [expletive] is not guarantee.
“My name is Ashley. I’m black and I’m feminist, and I apologize for neither,” a young woman wearing a Washington University T-shirt said. “I want us to think about the role of black women in leadership. I’ve seen a lot of men get up and grab the microphone, but I ask you to make some room for us, too. We are not exempt from police brutality or racial profiling.”