More on Ferguson

Area police assemble in Ferguson, Mo.
Area police assemble in Ferguson, Mo.

The following is yesterday’s report from The New York Times.

Ferguson continues to be a very important incident for students of policing. It is a tragedy from which much can be learned.

The photograph I have posted here speaks volumes.

After you read this article, I suggest you read some of the comments which follow. I believe they suggest where we might be headed with regard to police-community relations.

In addition, I was interviewed by BBC Radio with a number of other folks. [To listen, CLICK HERE.]

FERGUSON, Mo. — “In the five days since an unarmed young black man was fatally shot by a police officer here, the selective release of information about the shooting, and especially the anonymity granted to the officer, has stoked frustrations in this largely African-American community north of St. Louis, where residents describe increasingly tense relations with the police.

“The police chief, Thomas Jackson, has repeatedly declined to identify the officer, who has been put on administrative leave. But on Wednesday, the chief did offer a new detail about the shooting, which has kindled nights of racial unrest and an unyielding police response with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.

“Chief Jackson said that the officer who shot Michael Brown, 18, on Saturday was struck in the face during the encounter and treated at a hospital. Touching his own cheek, the chief said that a side of the officer’s face was swollen from what the police have described as a struggle in which Mr. Brown assaulted the officer and tried to take his gun — an account disputed by a witness, a friend of Mr. Brown’s who said his hands were raised when the last of several shots was fired…”

To read more, CLICK HERE.

 

FERGUSON: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. The killing ignited several nights of protest and has drawn outrage on social media outlets.

What do both sides say about how Mr. Brown was killed?

The circumstances of the death are in dispute. Mr. Brown and a friend were walking home from a convenience store when friends and witnesses say they were stopped by an officer for walking in the middle of the street. They say that Mr. Brown’s hands were in the air when the last of several shots was fired. The police say that Mr. Brown was shot during a fight over the officer’s gun. The F.B.I. has opened a civil rights inquiry into the shooting, and the case is being investigated by the St. Louis County Police.

What has happened in the town since the shooting?

A convenience store was set on fire, and at least 11 other local businesses have been looted. Police officers have fired tear gas and rubber pellets at demonstrators and have arrested at least 40 people since Sunday. On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration barred aircraft from flying below 3,000 feet over Ferguson after the police said that department helicopters were shot at. On Wednesday, local leaders called for protests to be held only during daylight hours.

How diverse is Ferguson? How does it compare to the rest of St. Louis County?

While most of St. Louis County is white, Ferguson and neighboring towns are predominantly black. Blacks were once a minority in Ferguson, but the city’s demography has shifted in the last decade after white families moved out to surrounding suburbs. Ferguson, a town of 21,000, is a “relatively stable, working and middle-income community,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a crime trends expert and professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “But it does have its pockets of disadvantage.”

What is the makeup of the police force and how do they operate in the town?

Ferguson Population

  • Black, 63%
  • White, 33%
  • Other, 4%

All Stops by Police

  • Black, 86%
  • White, 12%

All Arrests

  • Black, 92%
  • White, 7%

The town’s leadership and the police have remained predominantly white. Of 53 commissioned officers in the Ferguson Police Department, three are black. A racial profiling study shows that while blacks make up 63 percent of the city’s population, they account for 86 percent of traffic stops.

Is Ferguson generally a violent area?

Not when compared to neighboring towns. The violent crime rate is far lower in Ferguson than in Jennings, and it is comparable to two other similar-size adjacent towns.

By Larry Buchanan and Haeyoun Park of “The New York Times,” August 14,2014.