#Ferguson: A Year Later

Posted: August 16, 2015 in aiyana jones, ferguson, guns, mike brown, racism, sandra bland, storytelling, tamir rice

Last week, I found myself in the St. Louis area on business.  I decided that since it was only a 20 minute drive to Ferguson that I at least wanted to see the city to see what it was like.  I had no idea that I would leave with an empty feeling inside.

Arriving in the city didn’t feel like arriving in any other city.  All of the stories in the media over the past year and has turned Ferguson into somewhat of a “haunted house” type of feel.  You’re looking around as if to expect to see something “pop off.”
But as I drove through the city, I didn’t see media vans and cameras.  I didn’t see any protesters (most protests occurred during the evening and I was there during the morning).  The city appeared just like any other city.  There did appear to be tension in the air just from some of the locals we came into contact with, but for the most part, just another day in an every day city.
We thought about just turning around and leaving, but then I decided to pull over and Google the Mike Brown incident.  I wanted to learn more about where it occurred.  Maybe we were on the wrong side of town and the commotion that we see each night on TV is elsewhere.  That’s when I came across the street name where Mike Brown was shot.  It was about a 10 minute drive from where we were.
(Right click and open link in new tab to zoom)
I wasn’t aware of the memorial dedicated to Mike Brown.  When I drove down the street where everything happened, I was actually surprised to come up on it so quickly.  There was very little traffic at the time and the few cars that did drive by did so slowly.
Four kids, no older than 12 years old, came walking by the memorial.  They barely looked at it as they crossed the street and said “hello” to us on their way into their apartment.  I didn’t want to ask them if they knew Mike Brown or not, but somehow I knew that they did.  What did the memorial mean to them?  Did it make them hate cops more or did it make them fear cops more?  Did they look at Mike Brown as some sort of martyr for allegedly standing up to an officer or did they look at him as a troubled kid who took things too far?
(Right click and open link in new tab to zoom)
Once I drove past the memorial, I pulled over to get a closer look at some items placed on the side of the road.  This is where I felt the bottom of my stomach drop.  I saw stuffed animals with names written on their shirts: 
  • Aiyana Jones, a 7-year old killed in a police raid in Detroit.  
  • Tamir Rice, a 12-year old killed on a playground in Cleveland with a toy gun.
  • Sandra Bland, a 28-year old arrested for resisting arrest despite never being initially charged with a crime.

There has to be another way for cops to do their jobs without incidents like these.  Why does everything have to end in tragedy?  At one time, being a black man made you feel like prey, but I never imagined that feeling would extend to black women and black children.

If you’ve read my blog long enough then you know that I have no tolerance for criminals.  But you also know that I believe in the punishment fitting the crime.  We’ll never know if Mike Brown actually tried to harm that officer on that day because he’s not here to tell his story.  A lot of people have not gotten to tell their stories because they are dead.
As we left Ferguson, we were silent for a good 20 minutes.  However, before we got outside of the city limits, we saw two kids walking down the street and it made us wonder if they would make it home that day.  So many never did.
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