Ferguson | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson

Ferguson courthouse
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

Updated August 13 at 2 p.m. with comments from the city and auditor — A new report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway finds the city of Ferguson has made important changes to its municipal court.

But the audit released Monday also found city officials still have not taken action to secure and repair damaged court documents.

Forward Through Ferguson catalysts (from left) Yinka Faleti, Karishma Furtado and David Dwight discussed their organization’s newly released assessment of progress toward racial equity in the St. Louis region.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For members of the Forward Through Ferguson team, the past few years have been full of work that feels important and exciting – and also excruciatingly slow.

The organization this week unveiled its “State of the Report,” a tool that aims to quantitatively track progress toward racial equity in light of the initial Ferguson Commission, and in only five of 47 key areas does the data suggest significant change thus far.

“There’s definitely frustration in [the ongoing work] and always a hope that things can be more urgent,” David Dwight, senior strategy and partnerships catalyst, said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “At the same time, I think we’ve had to find excitement in those who are implementing the calls to action from the report [and] to see the way that our region has taken on racial equity.”

The Rev. Carlton Lee, right, speaks at a rally in 2014 with Michael Brown Sr., left, and Lezley McSpadden, center.
File Photo |Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Forward Through Ferguson has called for improvement in several areas to establish greater racial equity within St. Louis.

The non-profit released its first The State of the Report scoring where the region is on the 47 signature calls to action first identified by the Ferguson Commission in 2015. The latest report found that all 47 priorities have experienced some level of implementation, but only five of those had been achieved.

Community activists, including State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., are asking Gov. Mike Parson to pardon or commute the sentence of Joshua Williams.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis activists and community leaders have called on Gov. Mike Parson to pardon protester Joshua Williams for an event that occurred in 2014.

State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., held a press conference Friday at the St. Louis County Justice Center objecting to the eight-year sentence Williams is serving.

Williams was a part of a protest in December 2014 following the police-involved shooting of Antonio Martin. While looting was taking place at a QuikTrip in Berkeley, Williams set fire to a trash can outside.

Ferguson City Councilman Wesley Bell, left, is challenging seven-term incumbent Bob McCulloch, right, in the Democratic primary for St. Louis County prosecutor.
Jason Rosenbaum and Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Bob McCulloch won a seventh term as St. Louis County prosecutor on Aug. 5, 2014. Four days later, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot in Ferguson.

Brown’s death at the hands of a white police officer brought the racial disparities in the region’s criminal-justice system to the forefront and made national figures of both McCulloch and his opponent in the Democratic primary, Wesley Bell.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley appeals a judge's ruling to block two abortion restrictions in the state.
WP PAARZ | FLICKR

The city of Ferguson says it plans to keep prosecuting about 1,500 municipal court cases that attorneys filed before 2014 — a decision that bothers advocates who point out they were the product of a policing system the federal government found unconstitutional.

Rev. F. Willis Johnson on "St. Louis on the Air"
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

After serving his community in Ferguson for more than seven years and emerging as a leader following the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, Rev. F. Willis Johnson is being transplanted to Columbus, Ohio, where he will grow a new church.

Johnson was the pastor of Wellspring Church in downtown Ferguson until it recently closed. He is also the co-founder/director of the Center for Social Empowerment and author of “Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community.” On Tuesday, Johnson joined host Don Marsh on St. Louis on the Air to discuss his time in St. Louis.

People protest against the criminalization of poverty in downtown St. Louis in on July 21, 2016.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Forward Through Ferguson is encouraging locals to imagine a St. Louis devoid of racial inequity by the year 2039.

That year will mark 25 years since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

The non-profit group released a preliminary action plan on Wednesday, in which community leaders and residents considered benchmark goals for the next three years. A full report will be available in June.

Keith Rose is one of four plaintiffs in a $20 million lawsuit filed against the city of Ferguson, prosecutors Stephanie Karr and J. Patrick Chassaing and several Ferguson police officers.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson residents, activists and the Department of Justice discussed the progress of federally mandated changes to Ferguson courts and policing at a meeting Tuesday.

Natashia Tidwell, the court-appointed monitor overseeing the city’s agreement with the Department of Justice, said Ferguson is mostly in compliance with the consent decree adopted in 2016, meeting or partially meeting 36 of 37 provisions. 

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is considering legislation that would target protesters who block interstate highways.

The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to block lanes of interstate or other limited access highways, punishable by fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to 30 days in jail. And protesters could be held liable in civil suits filed by patients whose ambulances are delayed by blocked interstate highways.

(L-R) Peter Joy, William Freivogel and Mark Smith discuss recent issues pertaining to the law.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, our monthly Legal Roundtable panelists discuss recent issues pertaining to the law, including the FBI’s investigation into Gov. Eric Greitens’ sex scandal and blackmail allegations, the lawsuit that seeks to stop the Missouri governor from using a secretive phone app and the death of civil rights lawyer Frankie Freeman.

Joining the discussion was:

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated Dec. 12 at 4:50 p.m. with comments from Tony Rothert and Bob McCulloch — The Missouri Court of Appeals has become the latest to rule against a grand juror who wants to speak about what it was like to consider charging former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime in connection with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Grand jurors take an oath of secrecy when they are sworn in. The unidentified juror wanted to be able to violate that oath in order to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. In a unanimous opinion issued Tuesday, the appeals court said no.

Left to right. Chorus members Samantha Madison, Kelli Lowe, Melissa Pickens, Khalid McGhee, De-Rance Blaylock, Robert Crenshaw, Duane Martin Foster, a NYC chorus member and Gheremi Clay in the October production of The Drum Major Instinct.
Provided | Theater of War

A theatrical performance coming to St. Louis on Friday ties the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to recent protests here, with the goal of getting people to talk about racism, gun violence and policing.

“The Drum Major Instinct” is based on a sermon King delivered in  February 1968, in which he encouraged followers to work not for individual glory, but collective justice. The New York company Theater of War Productions is staging the dramatic reading and choral event.

Percy Green and Cori Bush, two activists of different generations, sat down to talk to each other about what has changed - and what hasn't - in the movement.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis on the Air

Here in St. Louis, we’re well into the second week of protests following the acquittal of Jason Stockley. It’s a scene we’ve seen as recently in 2014, when protests erupted in response to the police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.

Image of a Ferguson Police car, January 2017
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Ferguson has made good progress in reforming its police department and municipal court, a federal judge said Tuesday, though it’s far from over.

Ferguson’s police and court have been operating under federal oversight for more than a year. The city has written new policies on things like use-of-force and recruiting new officers, but has missed deadlines to implement them.

ArchCity Defenders

The city of Ferguson has decided it will no longer prosecute Fred Watson.

Ferguson’s municipal prosecutor officially dropped the charges Monday against Watson, a Navy veteran who was arrested in 2012 while sitting in his parked car after a basketball game. Ferguson charged him with several ordinance violations, including failure to wear a seatbelt.

People line the sides of West Florissant during a protest held to marke the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

After a Ferguson police officer fatally shot Michael Brown Jr., local artist Damon Davis hit the streets. What he saw there conflicted with TV news reports and social media posts he’d seen that emphasized clashes between protesters and police.

“It was absolutely nothing like what was being portrayed by the media,” Davis said.

Instead of clashes with police, he noticed people exercising their first amendment rights. So when budding filmmaker Sabaah Folayan contacted Davis about collaborating on a documentary about the protests, he felt compelled to work with her. That documentary, “Whose Streets?” will be released locally and across the nation tonight. 

Damon Davis and Sabaah Folayan will discuss "Whose Streets?" on Thursday's St. Louis on the Air,
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This Friday, in St. Louis and across the nation, the first nationally-distributed documentary about the protests, activism and aftermath in the wake of the police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson will be released.

Former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss "Policing Ferguson, Policing America."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson recently published the book “Policing Ferguson, Policing America: What Really Happened—and What the Country Can Learn From It.”

Michael Brown Sr. places roses along Canfield Drive before the start of a moment of silence for his son, Michael Brown.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were tears shed, prayers said and more than four minutes of silence observed Wednesday at the site of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting in Ferguson three years earlier.

Michael Brown Sr., who is encouraging people to also support other organizations that help local kids during this memorial week, was there at the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson.

“Aug. 9 will always be hard, because it’s in memory of Mike Brown Jr. and just remembering what happened to him,” the elder Brown said during the gathering. “But moving forward, we’ll be doing a lot of positive things in memory of his name.”

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