Michael Brown | St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated 9 p.m. on Wednesday with comments from Mayor Knowles)

When Louis Wilson spoke at a Ferguson City Council meeting -- a meeting filled with rousing moments and white-hot anger -- he turned his attention directly to Mayor James Knowles.

The 15-year resident of Ferguson came to the Greater Grace Church to demand change after one of the city’s police officers shot and killed Michael Brown. That change included altering the make-up of the Ferguson city council as well as mayor, all of whom were on the church’s stage.

Rebecca Smith

On Tuesday's one-month anniversary of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, some local leaders focused on ways to move forward, while Brown's family called again for answers in the investigation.

Local elected leaders representing the Ferguson area came together Tuesday to discuss strategies to heal after the unrest that shook the city for more than two weeks in August following Brown's death.

For the Sake of All

The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the sight of his limp body sprawled for hours in the street have provoked an intense debate that reveals our nation’s deep divisions when it comes to questions of race and justice.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

As Ferguson’s municipal government continues to face nationwide scrutiny, the city’s council is preparing to make big changes to the town’s police and municipal court systems.

Proposed changes on the agenda for a Ferguson City Council meeting Tuesday night include a citizen review board for the police department and a limit on how much Ferguson will rely on fines for general revenue. Other proposed steps would make it less likely that poor people would end up in jail for violating city ordinances.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that his conversations with residents of Ferguson during his visit two weeks ago influenced his decision to investigate the city’s police department.

Holder says he heard directly from residents and listening sessions “about the deep mistrust that has taken hold between law enforcement officials and members of the community. ... People consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents, from general policing practices, and from the lack of diversity on Ferguson’s police force.”

Before I went to Ferguson, Mo., to cover the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, a reported friend who was already joked that he was certain that he was sure that every person in the town had already been interviewed. And sure enough, the media crunch on was intense on West Florissant, the main boulevard that was the site of protests and clashes with the police in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown.

The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an investigation into police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, with a focus on looking for a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

Carrie says the department was holding off on announcing the investigation until clashes in the town died down:

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

Attorney General Eric Holder is reportedly planning to launch a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department and other police departments in the St. Louis Area.  

The announcement of the new investigation could come as early as Thursday, according to a report published in the Washington Post Wednesday evening.

It’s been almost trendy to talk about Ferguson’s young leaders lately, but youth leadership and community involvement is nothing new in the Ferguson area. For nearly four years, the Ferguson Youth Initiative has worked to connect teens and young adults with community events and opportunities.

Art McCoy
File copy | Ferguson-Florissant website

Art McCoy may have a new job with an international focus, but the former superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant school district says he will still pay attention to the need for better learning in north St. Louis County.

Civil disobedience is a likely next step among those protesting the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Highway shutdowns plans, for example, were announced last weekend, and there was a small short-lived shutdown then. Additional shutdowns are planned.

Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton
Parth Shah | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Councilman Steve Stenger says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley should have taken the county into a state of emergency at beginning of the unrest in Ferguson. 

Stenger, the Democratic nominee for county executive, said that move would have allowed Dooley to temporarily take control of the St. Louis County Police Department – which he said could have avoided a “leadership vacuum” throughout August.

Young Leaders Push For Change In Ferguson

Sep 2, 2014
St. Louis Public Radio

Johnetta Elzie went to Ferguson the afternoon Michael Brown was shot and killed.

“It moved us to tears,” the 25-year-old college student said. “Between hearing the first-hand accounts and seeing his blood on the streets still. You could feel that his blood was screaming out from the pavement.” 

Young leaders in Ferguson have amplified that cry, rallying on social media and participating in protests.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III talks to NPR's Michele Martin on Aug. 28.
Durrie Bouscaren, St. Louis Public Radio

It’s fair to say that Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III has broken the mold for elected leaders in north St. Louis County.    

When he was first elected to his post in 2011, Knowles became one of the youngest mayors in the state. He is also one of the few Republicans who managed to electorally prevail in the heavily Democratic area. And he’s probably the only elected official in Missouri who emerged victorious in an amateur wrestling match against Randy Orton, a north St. Louis County native who became a famous professional wrestler.

Wikipedia

The federal government is sharply limited in what it can do to address a police killing such as the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

A tiny handful of allegations of police brutality are prosecuted and the burden of proof is extremely high. Courts give police the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to second-guess decisions made in the “heat of battle.”

The Justice Department also can bring a civil “pattern and practice” suit against a police department aimed at changing policies and procedures that may have contributed to a shooting.

 From left: Habitat For Humanity St. Louis CEO Kimberly McKinney, former St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom and former Sen. Rita Days. Credit Durrie Bouscaren, St. Louis Public Radio
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

In the early 1990s, choreographer Bill T. Jones sought to illuminate the AIDS crisis using the language he knows best: dance. Now, the St. Louis-area dance community is seeking to respond with movement to issues unearthed by Michael Brown’s death.

Emanuele Berry / St. Louis Public Radio

A crowd of more than a thousand gathered in Ferguson Saturday, responding to a national call to march in memory of Michael Brown.

The huge crowd milled chaotically at first. Then once Michael Brown’s family arrived, the group moved out to the beat of drums and the call of competing chants.

From the street corner where the QuikTrip burned, the crowd marched to the site where Michael Brown died. There, a group wearing black peacekeeper shirts circled the family while an Imam and a preacher prayed.

Department of Justice official Rita Valenciano speaks to people assembled at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in St. Louis.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two representatives of the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, Eric Dean and Rita Valenciano, stressed they were reporting the needs of the St. Louis community to their superiors.  Although the goal of the evening was set as a time for community members to ask questions of the two representatives, little insight emerged as to their roll. Valenciano stressed she was in Ferguson Aug. 10 and immediately began working with community groups to facilitate dialogue with law enforcement and government agencies.

An audience member shows Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III a rubber bullet wound that he says he received during unrest in the north St. Louis County city. A forum sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio became heated, with ire being directed at Knowles.
Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A forum Thursday evening peering into Ferguson’s longstanding tensions as well as the St. Louis region’s racial divisions became angry and heated, with most of a crowd’s ire directed at the town’s mayor.

Audience members expressed searing criticism of Ferguson’s governance and leadership, both of which have come under fire since one of the Ferguson's police officers shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Mike Jones, addressing the County Council earlier this year
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

On Aug. 14, Mike Jones wrote in the St. Louis American that black leaders have failed those they represent.

In his commentary, the senior policy adviser for County Executive Charlie Dooley and a member of the State Board of Education wrote: 

St. Louis Public Radio

Join us here as we live blog from our event Thursday evening, Ferguson and Beyond: A Community Conversation. The event will be from 6-8 p.m. at Wellspring Church in Ferguson, Mo.

NPR's Michel Martin will host and moderate the event.

A recording of the evening will be broadcast on Friday, August 29 at noon on our air and will be archived.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

The staging area where various police agencies coordinated in the wake of riots and looting in Ferguson has been dismantled. The National Guard has also left the area.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told reporters at a press conference Wednesday that although the command center has been dismantled, unified command under the leadership of the Highway Patrol remains in effect.

(Durrie Bouscaren/St. Louis Public Radio)

It was after midnight on August 19 when Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson stepped to the microphone to give a nightly press briefing on the situation in Ferguson. And he was angry. 

"We are going to make this community whole, and we are going to do it together," he said. "I am not going to let the criminals who have come out here from across this country or live in this community define this neighborhood and define what we are going to do to make it right." 

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer brought about an intense examination of the conduct, racial composition and “militarization” of local police departments.

But one topic that hasn’t been talked about that much is how elected representatives exert fairly little direct control over the region’s law enforcement agencies.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

On this week's episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby to the show.  

The University City Democrat recently won re-election to the council's 1st District, which encompasses 38 municipalities. Erby's district includes Ferguson, the scene of more than two weeks of turmoil, unrest and international media attention

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council authorized up to $1 million to be spent to help Ferguson residents pay for expenses incurred during nearly two weeks of unrest.  

Without opposition, the council authorized the county to spend up to $1 million to help Ferguson residents who felt the impact of riots and looting. For more than two weeks, the city was under almost constant turmoil after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown earlier this month.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

A group of attorneys is asking Ferguson’s mayor to “wipe the slate clean” and grant clemency to certain people who broke the city ordinances, such as speeding or getting a parking ticket.  

Three law professors at Saint Louis University School of Law and the head of Arch City Defenders are asking Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III to provide the amnesty. Specially, the attorneys are asking Knowles to:

NPR

To have a conversation, someone must listen. NPR journalist Michel Martin says that will be her role Thursday as she moderates a public discussion in Ferguson.

“People know their own stories best,” Martin said. “I think my job is to listen to hear those stories and to make sure that everybody gets a chance to be heard who wishes to be heard, and hopefully heard in a manner that will be constructive to other people listening.

“Basically, this is neighbors talking to neighbors.”

Thursday’s community conversation at Wellspring Church in Ferguson will include:

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

If the St. Louis County grand jury fails to indict Officer Darren Wilson, we may have the Missouri legislature to blame.

The problem is an old statute that most people agree is unconstitutional: As it is written, the Missouri statute says that an officer is justified in his use of deadly force if he believes that it is necessary to effect the arrest of a person and the officer also believes that the person “has attempted to commit or has committed a felony.”

James Byard/WUSTL Photos

Updated 7:21 a.m. Tuesday to change number of people involved: Monday marked not only the first day of classes at Washington University and Saint Louis University but also a collaborative effort to take note of the death of Michael Brown and the issues it has raised.

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