Michael Brown | St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown

Law Professor Explores Racism, Equality in America

Sep 29, 2014

For Columbia University law professor Patricia Williams, many of today’s societal and political problems come down to us versus them.

“Racism almost rationalizes the irrational,” said Williams, who has written several books and articles exploring racism in America and will deliver three equality related lectures this week at Washington University.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

The California-based group “We Copwatch” has raised more than $7,000 to purchase small video cameras. The group donated the cameras to residents of Canfield Green, the apartment complex where Michael Brown was shot.

So far, they have distributed about 100 cameras to monitor police and ensure accountability. They plan to pass out another hundred cameras early next week.

Jacob Crawford is an organizer with “We Copwatch.” He’s staying in Ferguson helping train residents on how to effectively use their cameras. He says monitoring cops is an act of defense.

Provided by Missouri History Museum

When radio personality Carol Daniel and her husband, Patrick Daniel, learned she was pregnant with a boy, her first reaction was sheer joy. "I had had nightmares that I would not get married or that I would not have a child," she said.

But that joy quickly turned to anxiety. "My first thought was, 'I'm having a black man.' "

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 2 p.m. Sunday September 28, 2014 with further details from St. Louis County Police.)

Overnight, two area police officers were shot at — a Ferguson officer wounded in an encounter near the Ferguson Community Center, and a St. Louis officer injured by flying glass when his car was hit by gunfire on Interstate 70 near Interstate 170.

More seats were empty than filled at Greater St. Marks Family Church during a discussion about bridging the gap between police and the community Saturday, September 27, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Four young people active in the Ferguson protests joined two St. Louis County Police officers and two St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers for an emotional discussion Saturday about the barriers between police and the community. Before an audience of about 50, they offered and discussed suggestions to start bridging the gap.

Most of the panelists agreed that the effort led to some progress towards understanding.

Timothy O'Leary, left, Duane Foster and Jermaine Smith discuss #WithNormandy, Sunday's community concert at Normandy High School.
Erin Williams / Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

“We are all one in song,” said Duane Foster, which is the idea behind Sunday’s #WithNormandy: A Concert for Peace and Unity.

The Normandy High School Choir, directed by fine arts teacher Foster, will participate in the concert at the school, along with an all-star cast of performers that includes Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Julia Bullock, Erika Johnson, Derrell Acon and Jermaine Smith.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson at the microphone
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

During a tense Thursday night, demonstrators returned to the area outside the Ferguson police department  and held a quick march or two. Even though the verbal exchanges were intense, control was maintained – until the police chief tried to improve the situation. 

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The shooting deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and 25-year-old Kajieme Powell in St. Louis have focused a bright spotlight on the authority that police officers have to use force – sometimes deadly – to keep themselves and others safe.

Fatal use of force encounters are rare. But the questions raised when they happen reflect society’s broader struggles.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

For the last five years, Chris Nicastro has served as commissioner of Missouri's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She announced her retirement earlier this month and will step down at the end of the year.

Her tenure was marked by controversial decisions regarding school districts in north St. Louis County, including the Normandy School District, now known as the Normandy Schools Collaborative.  

St. Louis Public Radio education reporter Dale Singer spoke with Nicastro earlier this week and we aired a portion of that conversation on “St. Louis on the Air.” 

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson issued on Thursday a wide-ranging apology to Michael Brown’s family — and to demonstrators who felt their constitutional right to protest was violated in the wake of Brown's death.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

After protests in Ferguson flared up overnight, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson says he’s ready to use the riot gear that became a staple of the August demonstrations over Michael Brown’s death.

But Johnson said he’s not willing to place automatically a larger police presence on West Florissant Avenue, adding that he’s monitoring the situation on a “day-by-day” basis.

DESE website

As she moves toward her retirement after more than five years as Missouri’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Chris Nicastro has definite thoughts about what she got done, what she would have liked to accomplish and what her successor needs to bring to the job.

She also – after just a slight hesitation – has a pretty good idea of how, as a teacher, she would grade her tenure in Jefferson City.

“Oh …. probably a C-plus,” she said during a wide-ranging interview this week at the Wainwright state office building downtown.

So you’re a tough grader?

Ferguson Residents Outside A Town Hall Meeting Earlier This Fall.
Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

The focus Monday night was on clearing up misconceptions about Ferguson at the first of a series of residents-only town hall meetings.

Afterwards, some participants said they appreciated the chance to talk freely with neighbors and public officials. Others thought little progress was made.

Meldon Moffitt says he had a bad experience paying a municipal fine in Jennings. Policymakers from across the political spectrum may change how cities administer their municipal courts.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson resident Meldon Moffitt is part of a hardy group of protesters known as the Lost Voices, mostly young people willing to sleep on the street to get justice for Michael Brown’s family.

Moffitt said he believes more than just Ferguson needs to change. He said, for example, he received a stiff fine in Jennings for driving on a suspended license, even though he said he had paperwork clearing up the matter.

It’s part of what of what Moffitt says is as an unfair system affecting African Americans like himself.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

This is where you can find the latest updates from our newsroom and reliable community sources on developments related to the events surrounding Ferguson and following the shooting death of an 18-year-old man in Berkeley by a police officer. 

Live Updates (better version for mobile users):

Catching Up On Events In Ferguson

Sep 22, 2014
At the Ferguson Farmers Market August 2014
File photo | Tim Lloyd I St. Louis Public Radio

The protests, town hall meetings and conversations continue, but six weeks after the shooting death of Michael Brown, there are still a lot of unanswered questions in Ferguson.

Mayor James Knowles III
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson city council is holding the first of five town hall meetings Monday at 6 p.m.

The meetings are being billed as an opportunity for Ferguson residents to have a conversation with the council members who represent them, with separate meeting locations designated for different wards.

According to Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, the idea is to create a more intimate setting in order to facilitate dialog.

Commentary: We Are Michael Brown's Mom

Sep 21, 2014

I am Michael Brown’s Mom.

I am white, I live in St. Louis. But I could live anywhere and be any color. The story in my community is a story in all communities. Only the events might be different.

Images of peaceful and violent demonstrations, the visuals of the last few weeks, swirl in my head. In the midst of it, my friend Nekisha shares a song, “If I Could,” by Regina Belle.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 to include further details about the three arrests.

Shouts turned to shoves during a skirmish Saturday at the Ferguson Farmers Market.

According to reports from protesters and police, Brown supporters were holding a demonstration at the farmers market when some protesters began exchanging heated words with a group of shoppers and farmers.

Protester Shirlissa Pruitt says a man assaulted her during the skirmish.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A new community center is opening in Ferguson, less than three miles from where Michael Brown was shot by police on Aug. 9.

Originally a Roman Catholic school and parish, the community center has a gym, an exercise room and sports fields, as well as a computer center, a game room for teens and several meeting rooms.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, Mayor James Knowles said he hopes the opening of the community center will help bring residents together. 

St. Louis Public Radio photos

Boise has one. So do Houston and Los Angeles, and even East St. Louis. But St. Louis is one of the few major cities that doesn’t have a poet laureate, an official poet to document its culture in verse.

After facing intense heat from some of his party’s African-American leaders, Gov. Jay Nixon is tapping a former St. Louis-area senator to serve as a liaison to the state’s poor and minority communities. 

ferguson march 81614
Linda Lockhart | St. Louis Public Radio

In the nearly six weeks since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer, demands for justice have been on the lips of thousands of protesters.

Every group has defined justice a bit differently, but there have been five common themes.

1. Officer Darren Wilson must be fired, arrested and prosecuted for the death of Michael Brown

2. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch must recuse himself from the case.

Sherrilyn Ifill participates in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in 2013.
afagen via Flickr

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, had planned to discuss the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision during her trip to St. Louis. That changed after Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson.

Protests and chants came into the St. Louis County Council chambers Tuesday night.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been well over a month since a Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown. And for the most part, the St. Louis County Council was shielded from the unbridled anger over the 18-year-old’s death.

That reprieve ended on Tuesday.

The council’s chambers were packed with supporters of Brown and his family, with the vast majority of the crowd giving the county’s top executive and legislative officeholders a blazing array of criticism.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III is one of the few north St. Louis County elected officials who is active in Republican politics. Before Michael Brown's shooting death, he pitched the idea of making county offices in a merged St. Louis and St. Louis Count
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles won his most recent election without opposition. It’s a fact that’s been used to illustrate the lack of popular participation in Ferguson’s city government.   

But Knowles himself said that fact is a little misleading. He told St. Louis Public Radio last week that he had to slog through several difficult campaigns to become mayor. His unopposed re-election earlier this year, he said, doesn't mean that he was able to walk into the job without working for it.

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The parents of Michael Brown are now calling for the immediate arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed their son last month in Ferguson.

At a rally outside the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton on Saturday, Michael Brown Sr. and Leslie McSpadden said that it had been 35 days since their son was shot and nobody was saying or doing anything. Brown Sr. said that there was a killer on the loose and it was time for him to be arrested. He then spoke directly to Officer Wilson, asking him to volunteer to be locked up.

Jason Rosenbaum | file Photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Anger boiled up again when the Ferguson City Council met this week. It was the first meeting since Michael Brown’s death sparked upheaval here and since upheaval here created the possibility of a national reckoning with issues that reach far beyond Ferguson.

Our region will continue to play a pivotal role in determining whether the nation seizes this moment to tackle its Gordian knot of problems related to race, fairness, opportunity and mutual respect.

aug 23
File photo | Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again we in this region are faced with racism and alleged racist actions to be determined by the courts in the month ahead. Sadly this is not new.

Pages