Community POV and Personal Reflection

I want to start off by saying I wish we had more time. There is a lot to understand in the history of the relationship between people of color and cops, and specifically why these recent few incidents are the catalysts for the incredible movement there is today. I was only able to gain a glimpse into why Ferguson erupted the way it did, and it was truly eye-opening. It really was much, much larger than a simple black subject – white cop scenario. Ferguson residents of color were frustrated with not only the way the cops have always treated them, but because a large majority of the citizens had been kicked out of their own homes for the supposed addition to an airport and expected to move into historically racists surrounding neighborhoods that had in the past denied people of color access to residential areas within those neighborhoods.

Being apart of such a large and important conversation has been a great experience for me in understanding that there is always more to the story than just one point of view. All perspectives need to be taken into account to really grasp the entire picture of what and why an event happened. Ferguson has been the catalyst for a much needed dialogue within this country and understanding the issue of race, where every race fits into this puzzle and how we can start to move forward from here to progress forward together in unity and equity.

One of the really interesting parts of this project for me was getting acquainted with Twitter and understand the role it played in making Ferguson a national issue. Hashtags really are the driver for this movement. I have seen #Ferguson sustain its place within the “trending on Twitter” section since the shooting of Mike Brown and through the end of this project; however, I have also seen new hashtags become instantly popular and prominent with the enlargement of this social movement like #ICan’tBreathe from Eric Garner’s case. I have also seen how easily the media moves on while following them on Twitter. For example after the decision for the indictment of Darren Wilson came out, within maybe 2 or 3 days all news sources starting tweeting about Thanksgiving and recipes you should make over the holidays. This disappointed me heavily because this issue was not something that people were getting active about because it was trendy, although sadly I’m sure there are some people like this out there, but an issue that has plagued this country for a tragically long time.

From the community perspective, however, I am really hopeful because people, despite the media’s lack of attention to the subject, are still very active on Twitter to constantly remind people that this issue is not going to solve itself. The community all over the country is making sure that these systematic racists problems within our society stay in the forefront of everyone’s daily thoughts. I can honestly say that a day has yet to go by since the start of the ideas for this project that I don’t think about the issues with our society and how to possibly start moving forward. So the active voices within this country are doing an amazing job at making sure this movement and the meaning and objectives behind it dont slip through the cracks like they seem to have done after the Civil Rights Movement, which is now why we are here in our country’s evolution.

This project has been an amazing experience for me, and I want to thank my group members and everyone who has been reading this blog and our Tweets. I am making it a goal to help progress this country in anyway I can by spreading the word or getting involved any other ways I can. This is not going to become something I just stop caring about after I turn this project in because this project has really made me hyper aware of the issues within this country that can be solved to make our communities much better places. I think this movement starting with Ferguson and Mike Brown was the catalyst that the US needed to spark this necessary conversations, and will cause our country to reevaluate and move forward in a very positive and equal light.

Community POV and Personal Reflection

Police and Military Stakeholder’s Final Reflection

For approximately the past two weeks, The FergusonPrj4 has been sending out tweets several times a day into the Twittersphere to investigate and study people’s reactions to each stakeholder’s point of view on the topic of the Ferguson case. From the Police and Military stakeholder, I sent out information and tweets about Police and Military personnel’s reactions to both the verdict of Darren Wilson’s case, and the reactions to the protests that have occurred because of the shooting and killing of Michael Brown. Through my tweets, I tried to put out relevant information pertaining to what the Ferguson and St. Louis Police thought about the events of this case, in which I found several articles documenting the thoughts of Jon Belmar, Chief of St. Louis Police Department. In addition, to document my findings of Military personnel’s opinions of the case, I found several articles that documented the thoughts of Military veterans’ opinions of the events of Ferguson, and even found an article in which active Military personnel urged the National Guard, who were ordered to help keep the city of Ferguson safe from active protesters, to join in with the protesters as they believed an injustice had been committed in the shooting of Michael Brown and non-indictment decision of Darren Wilson. Though we did not receive many responses from our tweets, it was still quite interesting to learn about the Police and Military’s point of view on the Ferguson case, and more broadly issues of social justice, in addition to the other three stakeholders’ points of view as well. The most significant message that I took from this project is how crucial social media is in spreading information about issues of social justice, or rather injustice, and how crucial it can be in starting entire movements in the hope of social change.

The group process of this project worked really well. The fact that we were able to perform this project from four different stakeholders and their points of view really brought a diversity of opinions and ideas to the table, and helped us create a full story of the Ferguson case and how people responded to it. I think this project would not have been able to incorporate so many different opinions and points of view about this case and topic had it been done by one person. Everyone contributed in the group equally and accurately depicted their stakeholder’s opinions and point of view about the shooting of Michael Brown and jury decision on the non-indictment of Darren Wilson. I feel that if we had more time to perform this project, we would have received more attention to our twitter account and may have received more responses with a diversity of opinions about each stakeholder’s views of this social justice event. This project was a great learning experience, and hopefully in the future, someone else, with more time, can continue our work and really delve into the responses and opinions that individuals provide about such issues of environmental injustice.

Police and Military Stakeholder’s Final Reflection

Last Post: Government Stakeholder

   It is quite interesting to see these events play out and how they have affected not only Ferguson and New York but elsewhere as well.  I recently visited a talk that my Resident Director lead regarding the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and found it quite astonishing the faculty, staff, and students quite disappointed with the student body’s involvement in protests against injustice.  Several topics were brought into discussion, but one in particular really stood out for our project.  Many students mentioned how the incidence of the Michael Brown shooting should not be taken as one individual incidence but rather a whole collaboration against the injustice in the country.  There has been so much focus on the events occurring in Ferguson that we have become blind to realizing that these issues happen constantly and that they should be addressed in unison, not in separate movements.  Why hasn’t my college student body motivated others to protest against the social injustices seen and why haven’t there been bigger protests outside of the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and  Eric Garner cases?  Like I have mentioned in my previous post, even students have taken noticed the urge to change subject and attention away from the events that have taken place over the past three months and focus on other issues and concerns.  It disheartened me to hear that many students when discussing the subject of injustice many  were told to change the subject.  Apparently discussing injustice is too “sensitive” of a topic and not appealing.   The conversation made me question our project as a whole. Is it horrible that we are only focusing on one event? Unfortunately, this will technically be our last posts, as this was meant to be a short project. As I write this post, I believe this project would have been more efficient if we started it from the beginning of the year rather than one month ago.  I still have great interest in these topics and might decide to create my own blog still discussing the issues I feel are important to the injustice movement.  This project, and most of all the discussion I attended re, gave me a new and very clear perspective on these issues and made we want to continue supporting the movement against social injustice.  #Government #FergusonPrj4

Last Post: Government Stakeholder

A Saddening History of the Ferguson Police Department

Representing the Police an Military stakeholder, I wanted to research the history of the Ferguson Police Department. When investigating the history of the Ferguson police department, and other cases similar to that of Michael Brown’s case, I was surprised to find that there is documented evidence of similar cases of police brutality in the past, pertaining to black individuals as well. According to an article written in the International Business Times online, the Ferguson Police department has been sued twice in federal court for alleged civil rights violations (International Business Time, ” Before Mike Brown Shooting, Ferguson Police Department had History of Misconduct Allegations”). One of the cases was dropped, and the other is pending decision. An additional civil suit was filed against this police department because of an incident in 2009, in which a resident was charged with destruction of property when he bled on the uniforms of officers while he was allegedly beaten. The decision for this case is to come out this month as well. To hear about all these tragic events, and the fact that they are documented online and in the media, and yet no one has mentioned or even heard about these is quite saddening. It seems that every day, more and more incidents similar to the Ferguson case like Michael Brown’s, and recently this week with the Eric Garner incident, are occurring almost like a domino effect. I believe that it is only going to get worse as more and more similar cases are arising from the past that were originally overlooked. And with those cases come more decisions, and if justice is not done or does not prevail in those cases, I fear that society will become very angry and very chaotic, and may look to more extreme, even violent measures, to make their opinions heard.

To prevent further injustice from occurring in our society, like many similar incidents as those of Ferguson and Eric Garner’s, what can we as individuals do to be proactive in society and through the media to make our voices and opinions heard?

For your information, the link to the International Business Times article is below: http://www.ibtimes.com/mike-brown-shooting-ferguson-police-department-had-history-misconduct-allegations-1661674

A Saddening History of the Ferguson Police Department

The history behind Ferguson from the community POV

We all know that Ferguson, MO has double the number of black citizens than white, and that this is due to a deep rooted history of slavery in the south. St.Louis tourism tries to exploit this history, and only the happy endings like the wealthy African-Americans that were able to buy their own land or a black musician creating a specific genre of music, to of course get people to want to come to St. Louis (1). What St.Louis, especially the government, has a hard time admitting is that the true black history within St.Louis is not something to brag about, rather it is something they should be ashamed about.

Now of course, most of the history that is most shameful, like slavery, was well before our time, and you cannot blame the current people in office for their wrongdoings. What they can be blamed for is to this day is taking advantage of the poorer areas of town, which are mainly areas of color, specifically black. The main example of this was pointed out by Jeffery Smith’s article “You can’t understand Ferguson without first understanding these three things: reflections from a former state senator from St.Louis (2).” In this article he goes into the history of the oldest, and first, black town in MO, Kinloch. Today, Kinloch has about 400-500 residents according to the Chief of the Kinloch Fire Protection District, Darran Kelly, and is one of, if not the, poorest community in all of MO. You can see what Kinloch looks like today in the video tour with Darran Kelly here: http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2010/03/a_video_tour_of_kinloch_the_sa.php.

Kinloch, however, was thriving with about 4,000 residents prior to 1980’s, and was filled with middle class citizens. It was created due to surrounding towns having laws that did not allow black citizens to own land, which lasted through the Civil Rights Movement. By the 1980’s, Lambert Airport started buying surrounding land to expand and create an additional runway, this project displaced 80% of the surrounding neighborhood of Kinloch. These residents were forced to move into the other neighborhoods including Ferguson, specifically the Canfield Green apartment complex that Michael Brown lived in. The crazy part is, Lambert never created the second runway, which is why in the video with Darran Kelly the land is leveled and hardly anyone lives there.

A report by Aljazeera America commented on the thoughts of a protester feeling that, “the near-vacant city has long been a symbol of what many African-Americans in north St. Louis County feel is representative of a social and governmental system in which they have little voice and that they say consistently works against them (3).” Another protester said that a lot of the frustration over in Ferguson is due to this sense of displacement for past Kinloch residents, which mirrors the sense of loss black citizens have within our justice and governmental systems because they cannot seem to get anyone to hear their voice. Ferguson is not the only predominantly black town that feels this way, which is why many have risen up and spoken out about the lack of voice the black community has within governmental institutions.

The history behind Ferguson from the community POV

Investigating the Media Coverage of Ferguson

The past few weeks, media coverage of Ferguson has spiked immensely. Often, when news is covered at a quicker pace, facts can be fabricated or misconstrued. I decided to look up what fact checking organizations have to say about the media’s coverage.

Here are some examples from PolitiFact:

  • “93 percent of blacks murdered by other blacks” (from Rudy Guiliani, GOP presidential candidate) is rated “Mostly True”
  • ““The conviction rate is almost exactly the same” for whites and blacks who commit murder” (also from Guiliani) is rated “False”
  • ““99 percent of the time” police aren’t charged for killing people of color” (from Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump) is rated “Half True”

These are just a few examples, more of which can be found here.

When I look at how many claims are “Half True” or “False”, it can be disheartening. After all, at least for me, the media plays a large role in influencing my opinion as I use it as a source of information.

Another article from The Huffington Post also provides some perspective on the matter. Media claims to be objective, and yet, according to the article “Media treatment of black victims is often harsher than it is of whites suspected of crimes, including murder.” Treatment can vary from a photo that portrays a suspect better or a victim worse, a headline that hints at doubt at the white killer’s actions, or one that gives an opinion on character.

This is why I have found it so interesting to use Twitter to follow #Ferguson coverage as well—because the mainstream media is not allowed to fully dominate the conversation. Citizen journalists posting on Twitter and sharing videos, photos, and ideas are contributing to new sides to #Ferguson.

What do you think? Where do you get your news? How much do you trust the media? How much does it influence you?

Investigating the Media Coverage of Ferguson

2nd Week Reflection: Government Stakeholder

It has been over a week since my last post, and so much has changed in Ferguson.  In response to the released statement of the grand jury opposing the indictment of Officer Wilson, crime ensued but much less so.  While searching for articles to utilizer for the Twitter account, I found the media focusing highly on the crime that relayed after the grand jury’s decision and less on the peaceful protests that were in greater masses in comparison to the damages done in Ferguson.  I find it very interesting that many of the media and governmental officials found solace in the Thanksgiving weekend and little media attention was placed on the repercussions of Ferguson at that time.

I am finding it more and more difficult to find sources that still link to our discussion of the Ferguson shooting which saddens me to see that many media sources and governmental officials have already closed the case, despite the possible changes to be pressed against Officer Wilson in the near future.  Thus my group members and I will take a different approach to tackling this gradual lack of attention on Ferguson by taking a step back from the Ferguson shooting to address other events that have occurred in Ferguson, such as the demographics and past police and community relations.

We hope this will draw the remaining supporters of the attention to the Ferguson case and are proud of their continued involvement in this important issue that may define this era.  As for the Twitter feed we have received 12 followers which is a big accomplishment, but have not received any responses or frequent retweets.  We hope to bring attention to this issue closer to home by having a Twitter account made for our class to respond to our Twitter and blog to see if we are successful in bringing not only more attention to this issue but to get a better analysis of the issue.

2nd Week Reflection: Government Stakeholder