What’s changed — and what hasn’t — three years after Michael Brown’s death | St. Louis Public Radio

What’s changed — and what hasn’t — three years after Michael Brown’s death

Aug 9, 2017


Protesters gather five days after the shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014.
Credit File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

On August 9, 2014, Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in the Canfield Green apartment complex. His death touched off weeks of protests, reigniting a national conversation about race and policing that continues to this day.

Closer to home, reforms have been slow to take hold, even those mandated by the federal Justice Department. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but, rather, a big-picture view of what has and hasn’t changed.

What's changed?

Kae Brandt, 4, tests out a spray paint can alongside a sign made by his dad, Ferguson resident Carl Brandt, following a 2016 meeting about the consent decree.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Federal consent decree

While a grand jury declined to charge Wilson in Brown’s death, the confrontation led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Ferguson’s police department and municipal court system. That led to the implementation of a consent decree, which requires the city make hundreds of changes to the way its police force works.

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Delrish Moss is sworn in as Ferguson's new police chief at a ceremony at the Ferguson Community Center in May 2016.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Police leadership

Former Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson was one of six city officials who resigned or were fired in March 2015 after the Department of Justice released its report.   

A national search attracted 54 candidates and led Ferguson to hire Delrish Moss, the public information officer in Miami, as its new permanent chief.

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A young resident of Canfield Green Apartment Complex protested with his father at the torched QuikTrip on West Florissant and Canfield avenues in 2014.
Credit File photo | Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

The QuikTrip

Protesters looted and burned the QuikTrip gas station at the corner of West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates Drive on August 10, 2014. But a couple of weeks ago, the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center opened at the site, tied to the start of the National Urban League’s annual conference. Built by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Salvation Army, the center is latest example of new investment into the Ferguson area.

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What hasn't changed?
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III answers question from reporters following a 2016 city council meeting.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Political leadership

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III was four months into his second term when Brown’s death thrust him and his city into the brightest of spotlights.

Six city officials eventually resigned or were fired in the aftermath, but Knowles hung on, even beating out a Ferguson councilwoman to win a third term in April by 15 points.

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Keith Rose was 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 after protests following Michael Brown’s death in 2014.
Credit File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The municipal courts

Despite making some of the court-ordered changes to the way it handles cases, Ferguson still faces a number of state and federal lawsuits over its municipal court’s practices, including allegations that it runs a debtor’s prison. The problem isn’t just in Ferguson, either. 

“There have been some changes in Ferguson, but things aren’t fixed out there,” according to Thomas Harvey, the executive director of ArchCity Defenders, which has filed many of those lawsuits.

House Democrats, including Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., raise their hands to speak about the $10-an-hour minimum wage in St. Louis during the 2017 legislative session.
Credit File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

State laws

Missouri state representatives and senators started the 2015 legislative session with plenty of ideas for policy reforms. But in the end, just one major piece of legislation passed that changed, among other things, how much money municipalities can fine people in traffic stops. The Missouri Supreme Court later threw out parts of that law.

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