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 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