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
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.
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.
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.
This is just a small statement from the student that will represent the Stakeholder as the Government. What my stakeholder will focus on will be primarily obtaining the perspectives of the governmental control from a national to international standpoint of the current events taking place at Ferguson. I will utilize sources mostly from the governmental sources but occasionally media sources as well. Since media sources often filter the perspectives of governmental officials I will primarily use direct quotes from governmental officials. The government is often perceived as concealing essential information about events and not taking into consideration several factors that have impacted communities to make final decisions. As a result we are attempting to see if followers on our Twitter account will be more objective to comments made by my stakeholder over others. I will attempt to make two tweets per day to get the attention of people who are currently following the events taking place at Ferguson.
Currently, it has been difficult to find governmental sources that have direct responses to events from the mayor, governor, and other figures involved with the events taking place at Ferguson. As a result I had to rely on media sources, that are known to edit several portions of governmental figures speeches. My hope is that I am able to find more quotes. I also hope that people are still watching fervently as Ferguson and other regions that suffer from injustices even past today’s verdict of the no-indictment of the officer Wilson. An event like this makes its mark into a social issue only so often that once again brings people’s attention to major issues within society that are still yet fully addressed and resolved. I hope this event is not forgotten and brings more activism to this social concern, so it becomes more than an “event.”