Ferguson Residents Express Their Anger And Disgust During Volatile City Council Meeting

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A month after an unarmed black teenager was viciously shot and killed by a white police officer, the city of Ferguson held its first city council meeting since the incident. On Tuesday night, at a local church, over 600 people attended the meeting to voice their frustration and anger about what they perceive is a lack of justice for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot by Officer Darren Wilson. Residents wanted to know why, a month after the tragedy, Wilson still has not been charged with any crime and is walking the streets. Additional outrage was expressed over the lack of African-Americans in government and administrative positions, harassment of poor, black residents by police and inequitable fines and fees levied on the poorest members of the community by the city.

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Prior to the meeting, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and the council announced reforms to the way the city handles warrants, fines and arrests. The changes include a cap on the amount of revenue the city can collect on court fines. If court fines are more than 15% of the total city revenue, then any additional money will go towards special community projects instead of going towards the city’s general fund. A number of fees have been eliminated, such as a warrant recall fee, a towing fee and a ‘failure to appear’ fee. These fees had been criticized both locally and nationally as ways the city profited off and victimized the poor. The council also got rid of the separate ‘failure to appear’ offense for people who didn’t show in court for ordinance violations.

Ferguson city officials were hoping this announcement would quell any anger from residents ahead of the council meeting. However, they were sadly mistaken. While residents are appreciative of some progress being made in the community, there is still a lot of frustration and disgust with the current city government. They also wanted to use this meeting as not only a chance to voice their outrage but to perhaps get some questions answered directly by the mayor and council. Knowles made the fatal mistake of telling the crowd that once they got to the public comments portion of the meeting, city officials would not be answering any questions. This caused the crowd to react angrily, with catcalls towards the stage exclaiming, “Shut it down!”

Even though residents and people from surrounding communities knew they wouldn’t get any questions answered, they still lined up at the microphone to make themselves heard. The vast majority of the comments were heavily critical of the way the city is run, whether it is police mistreatment of black residents, lack of diversity within government offices or the response from the city in the wake of the Brown murder. While there was an occasional call for appeasement from a commenter, mostly people took the mic in order to vent their frustration at what they see as a blatantly racist system in place.

Discontent was probably heightened by the presence of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. While Jackson didn’t make any comments and wasn’t available for questions, he was at the meeting for ‘security purposes.’ Currently, the very sight of Jackson brings out high levels of annoyance and revulsion among town residents. The man who is the very symbol of police malfeasance and racist behavior casually strolling through a council meeting was likely enough to make many a person’s blood boil Tuesday night. Just days ago, it was revealed that he lied about why he released the videotape of Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store. The release of the tape helped reignite tensions in Ferguson.

At the end of the meeting, Knowles was reprimanded by the pastor of the church where the meeting was held. As Knowles walked off the stage, L.O. Jones, pastor of the Greater Grace Church, told the mayor that even children demand an answer when they ask questions and get angry when they are provided none. Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jones then told Knowles the following:

“You didn’t answer any questions tonight. Let’s be honest. It’s time for change.”

Truer words have never been spoken. In the wake of Brown’s killing, activists, community leaders and organizations have gathered in an effort to mobilize, energize and educate the people of Ferguson regarding the political process not only in their town, but statewide and nationally. During the height of protests in the days after Brown’s death, voter registration booths were set up on the streets. Currently, St. Louis Alderman Antonio French has an office open on W. Florissant Ave., where most of the Ferguson protests have taken place. His organization, #HealSTL, will canvass Ferguson neighborhoods to register voters and inform them of upcoming elections. He will also look to engage younger residents to get more involved in their community.

While the national media has moved on from Ferguson due to the lack of violence and militarized police presence now, activists and residents are still demonstrating and making their voices heard. A group of protesters left Ferguson Wednesday morning by bus to head to Jefferson City, the state capital of Missouri. They have planned a Ferguson Advocacy Day and want the state’s government officials to see and hear their demands for justice. There is also talk of a highway protest Wednesday afternoon, where protesters will shutdown a local highway for a few minutes in remembrance of Michael Brown.

 

18 Replies to “Ferguson Residents Express Their Anger And Disgust During Volatile City Council Meeting”

  1. A teenager was shot by a police officer. The article could have left it at that. Why bring up more race issues by labeling “black teenager”, and “white police officer”? It makes it seem as if you are trying to legitimize the officer’s actions based upon the teenager’s color.

  2. You now have at least five people that this young man was shoot down like a dog, with his hands up. Until you arrest this so called policeman, there will be problems. Giving the people a break on fines is not going to cut it!!!!

  3. What is happen now in STL is that the people are banding together peacefully but getting their messages across. No the media is not going to be present because their is no looting, and rioting to boost their ratings. What scares the people the most when people protests peacefully they know that the world will still be watching and the people aren’t going to take no for an answer. They will keep protesting until they get almost everything they wanted, they know they will never get all, but having a great deal of their needs meet will be a great accomplishment. MLK and others did the same thing knowing they wouldn’t get all but would get the majority of the things they wanted. As long as the marches is peacefully they will win and it will continue to spread from city to city, town to town and state to state. Getting people register to vote, making sure they vote at all elections is one sure way of getting the attention of people.

  4. It is my understanding that 63% of Ferguson are people of color. This is not meant to be disrespectful, but there is every shade from black to brown in the city. Yet their mayor is white, their city council is white, their police chief is white and appx 95% of the active police force is white.

    I only have one question to cover this situation; why?

    There is only one answer to that question and it is also one word; apathy.

    The 63% have allowed the white people to dominate at the elections. They chose to not vote for candidates to represent them.

    I, for one, am glad to see that education in the voting process is being conducted. I only hope that this education continues to follow through because there is only one way that the people of Ferguson can receive fair treatment and that is through the voting process.

    Vote, people, vote.

  5. I only have one question to cover this situation; why?
    ————————————

    Only 6% came out to vote. Now I am with them but I have to admit its their own damn fault for the gulag they live in

  6. It maybe their fault, but what is the underlining cause for them not voting? Something must have influence them not vote or to see the importance of voting. It is not to be forgotten that for all those who receive tickets and fines end up with records that could have prevented them from voting or being told that is the reason they couldn’t vote. We have to remember also if people aren’t really aware of their rights they can be trampled on by those who want to stay in control. We always assume that everyone should be aware of their rights but that is not always the case if you have for years been lead to believe that the whites have ruled the world and you are to do what they say. That is not all whites but just those who really are afraid of any miniorties or group of people who don’t look like them, act like them or think like them. That is why women, lgbt and immigrants are thrown into that same place with blacks. We do need to educate people on voting and the importance of i…

  7. I hope the people of Ferguson are continuing to register to vote, if they would just do this it would be a great start to turn things around, and perhaps it could be a model for some other parts of the country I could think of.

  8. Wilson should have been arested and charged with murder. The police protect their own. The resident is right, they have the power. A sleeping lion has awoken. The African-American majority are now going to take control.

    Nothing sets many a white persons trembling with fear than an African-American daring to assert their rights the Constitutional says they have. Now the white minority are living in fear that the black majority will use the power of the ballot box to vote out the white majority.

    It’s a shame it took Michael Brown’s death to open up the black residents eyes to the power they have, but Michaels death will not have been in vain.

  9. Voting in an all-black city council, mayor and chief of police will diversify the power structure and weaken White privilege.

    Look for crime & poverty to drop precipitously.

  10. I tend to agree with djchefron. While 63% of the ferguson population are people of color, that still leaves 37% of the population as white.

    By all means vote in a black mayor. Get a black police chief. But whites need to have a voice too on the city council.

    However, poverty will NOT be solved this way and as long as there is poverty, there will be crime. ALL the people need to work together to make Ferguson a place where businesses will be willing to locate. Mom and Pop stores, while great places, do not provide the work needed to help others climb out of the hole. Get your schools up to date, get good teachers and make your kids go to school.

    Doing these things cost money. There are grants and federal loans that can be tapped, but none of those are better than enticing business your way.

    But that won’t be done until the people of Ferguson are willing to work together, whites AND blacks.

  11. More arrests in Ferguson as protesters attempt to block I-70

    More arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, tonight. This time there’s no tear gas (so far), and protesters were planning to be arrested as part of tonight’s effort to block Interstate 70 where it intersects the town.

    After being warned to stay out of the street some refused, and an Associated press reporter saw at least 7 cuffed by police. […] Organizers say they want to bring rush hour traffic on I-70 in Ferguson to a standstill and expect to be arrested.
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ferguson-reforms-met-rancor-city-meeting-25396374

  12. I’m an old guy….with my prejudices, hatreds and out and out misinformed stupidity on a lot of subjects and peoples. I do try to keep an open mind, you have to, because everything isn’t as it seems.

    But what I do know, without being from Missouri, but reading all of the witness reports I can find,about that young man, from Ferguson, Missouri, being shot. The witnesses common thread, through the whole, is that the kid was giving up, period. The cop had him and he knew it. So instead of doing the right thing, that cop executed him, plain and simple. No doubt in my mind, especially when the police department will not really release any credible statements for the cop, for or against. The cop shop, did release a video of that kid in a store, acting in a certain way. But the store never called the cops, so maybe those in the store had personal differences?

    It has to stop with the cops, period.

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