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

Reflections of the community and activism stakeholder

My role as the community and activism stakeholder is to represent all sides of the community reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. This includes responses from not only the immediate community in Ferguson, MO, but also across the nation. I would like to delve into more of the history behind the surrounding community and what has led to the outrage that there is today in future Twitter posts. One of the harder parts of taking on this role is to not put my own opinions into these tweets, and really try to reflect exactly how the community and activists feel, even though the majority of community opinion matches with my personal opinion pretty well.

What I have found logistically difficult so far is putting the thoughts and feelings of the community into only 140 characters, and of course getting followers and people to interact and respond. Social media, especially Twitter, is a hot spot for community voices, and it is hard to pick and choose which ones are most prominent or meaningful since they all have strong emotions behind them. This is why deciding what to post before and after the verdict came out was hard, and I thought with the trial verdict being released that people would be eager to respond or re-tweet anything that had to do with Ferguson since they would want to spread the word, but I guess it takes time to gain respect on Twitter.

What I have noticed so far from the community and activist opinions is outrage over the justice system. People are enraged about the grand jury decision to not indict Darren Wilson.  But the reasoning is due to how easy it is for a MO police officer to get out of indictment because of the laws in MO. People often question the authenticity of our justice system in cases like the Ferguson case Wilson, not necessarily because of the demographics of the Jury, but the laws currently place. Yet, I am thrilled to witness the positive response it has taken.  People all over the country of different ages and ethnic backgrounds coming together to raise awareness about  social injustices; it is the first step towards change and a brighter future.

Reflections of the community and activism stakeholder

Reflection of Police and Military Stakeholder

As I represent the Police and Military stakeholder, I have found many differing articles and responses to the Ferguson case and no-indictment decision of Darren Wilson, the police officer who ultimately shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. As I expected, Ferguson police, and police officers all over the country, have been extremely busy after the decision was released to not indict Wilson, due to several riots and protests all over the U.S. Before I started this project, I really did not know much about the Ferguson case and did not have an accurate grasp of what events had occurred, or even the parties involved in this case, such as the name of Officer Darren Wilson, and even the reason behind the shooting of teenager Michael Brown. One of the most significant learning outcomes of this project, for me, is the education about such social injustices and the involvement of race in such cases that have to do with Police and their handlings with people and proposed suspects.

When researching Police officers responses and views to the Ferguson case, I found that there were not a whole lot of responses to the situation or tactics performed by Wilson, but rather responses to the aftermath of the case and what officers’ views were on the subsequent protests that have taken place since the death of Michael Brown. Ferguson and St. Louis County Police departments have taken what most consider “extreme” measures to disperse protesters and perform their duties. For example, Police in Ferguson have been equipped with high-powered rifles, new riot gear, and military-like equipment to threaten protesters and reduce the risk of violent events from occurring. Jon Belmar, Chief of St. Louis County Police, has backed the use of military-grade equipment for scare tactics in light of recent protests in Ferguson and surrounding areas. What I found to be quite interesting however were the responses of active Military personnel and Military veterans, who claim that Ferguson Police responses are incorrect or unmerited, as they believe that the use of Military-grade equipment is too extreme for the protest situations in which they are dealing with. As the Ferguson Police department prepared for massive protests before the decision of the case was to be released, they asked for help from the National Guard to help maintain safety in the city of Ferguson and surrounding areas. Again, I found it very interesting that the response from active Military personnel to the National Guard was to stand-down, and even join in with the protesters, as they believed that Ferguson Police had violated both human and constitutional rights from their actions, killing “an unarmed, college-bound Black youth in broad daylight,” and responding to “constitutionally-protected protests with extreme violence and repression” (Bernabe, “Military Veterans Send Urgent Letter to National Guard In Ferguson Telling Them to Stand Down”).

Moving forward, and hopefully in the next few days, it will be interesting to hear responses from these two parties as more and more events are occurring everyday. It will be interesting to hear responses related to Darren Wilson’s newest decision to resign from the force in the up-coming days. New things are surfacing everyday, and being involved in the media will hopefully allow us to capture reactions from both Police and Military personnel. What are your opinions of the Police and Military personnels’ responses to the events of Ferguson?

For your consideration, the article quoted in the second paragraph, documenting Military Veterans’ views of the Ferguson case and the protests occurring as a result of the decision of the case can be viewed at this link: http://www.mintpressnews.com/military-veterans-send-urgent-letter-national-guard-ferguson-telling-stand/199268/

Reflection of Police and Military Stakeholder

Reflections from Media Stakeholders

When we began #The Ferguson Project Four, I don’t think any of us fully realized the implications of Ferguson, and the outrage to come from cities all around the country. As the Media Stakeholder, as well as a concerned citizen, I have been fervently following the news coverage of Ferguson, prior to the shooting, of the shooting, after the shooting, and now after the trial results have finally been announced. I hope that if we keep talking, keep fighting, keep spreading the word, our voices will be so loud that America will not continue to ignore race. This is so much more than about one shooting in Ferguson.

I’ve been struggling with the format of Twitter because there is so much more to say than in 140 characters, and even a blog post can’t do Ferguson justice. My hope for this blog and Twitter account is that we can encourage others to join the discussion and ask questions along with us as we attempt to create a full picture of #Ferguson.

I’ve also struggled because media always aims to remain objective–but it is exactly in this polarized situation where objectivity becomes extremely difficult to achieve. I often felt I had to censor my opinions as I wanted to be more critical of the media. So, I plan on using the blog as a platform for the opinions, thoughts, and reflections that do not fit within the realm of Twitter.

Alan Krawitz of Media Bistro gives the media coverage of the Ferguson shooting a grade of C to C-, critiquing “…coverage that I thought was uneven, at best, with some national reporters even crossing journalistic lines to become advocates, rather than unbiased, objective third-parties.” However, who decides where this line is. At what point is it unethical for journalists to remain “unbiased”? And when does something become “sensationalism,” rather than outrage over the truth? However, media does still play a huge role in helping to expose the racial divides in the U.S., and without the media (and citizen journalists using Twitter or other blogs), I don’t think the #Ferguson protests that occurred yesterday and today would have been possible.

What do you think of the media coverage of #Ferguson? What role should the media play?

Be heard,

Media Stakeholder

Reflections from Media Stakeholders