In Ferguson Friday night, displays of frustration gave way to reflection and thoughts of building something from tragedy. Protesters came out, but the numbers were down and the focus of many shifted to plans to provide food and educational resources to local kids and registering voters.
Nathan Grey, 25, was out to support Ferguson through voter registration. He sees voting as a tool to combat issues he feels led to the past week’s events in Ferguson.
“With my vote I’m holding you accountable,” said Grey. “I’m holding you accountable with the vote that I believe in you, that you’re actually not only going to make a change but actually be involved within the community.
Grey’s registration table sat at the corner of West Florissant and Ferguson. Another voter registration table was at the intersection of Canfield Drive and West Florissant. Deborah D. Ahmed, executive director of the Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center, said she’d been preparing sandwiches, giving out packaged food and providing clinical services for residents with the hope of building a better future in the community.
Protestors also discussed the following day’s activities in the housing development where Michael Brown was shot. Five groups were involved in planning an event at Canfield Apartments Saturday. Better Family Life, Pastor Rick Shelton, Crisis Aid, Clergy United and police officers gathered to bring food for approximately 1,200 families in the area.
“We decided to collectively come together just to be a blessing to the community,” said Jacquelyne Tyler who is an outreach minister with a United Church of Christ church.
As the sun set, the tone remained quiet. Capt. Ron Johnson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar strolled down West Florissant talking with protesters and shaking hands.
“At the end of the day you can’t have a positive relationship with the community by only coming in and engaging that community when there is a problem,” said Belmar when asked what he’s learned from Ferguson events. He elaborated, “It has to be a full-time effort to make sure that we always are communicating, we always know each other, we know who each other are in times of crisis, so we have developed that trust where we can work with each other.”
Marching protestors disbanded around 9:45 p.m., some dispersing, some remaining to hold signs and talk with other protesters about the weeks’ events.
Many protesters indicated they were focused on Saturday demonstrations.