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What a VTS student heard in Ferguson

What a VTS student heard in Ferguson

Broderick Greer, a student at Virginia Theological Seminary, visited Ferguson, Missouri, recently during the protests that followed the killing of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Here is an excerpt from an essay Greer wrote for Huffington Post:

On August 22, 2014, 42 people loaded a bus at Washington, DC’s Union Station to embark on a 14-hour journey to Ferguson, Missouri.

[Upon arrival] 42 of us plunged ourselves into the chaos of that community’s collective grief and outrage over the death of one of their own, Michael Brown. Before I could even walk out onto the storied West Florissant Avenue, I stopped to have a conversation with a Ferguson resident who assured me that she would be protesting until Darren Wilson is arrested. “We have nothing but time. We are tired, but justice must be done.” And tired we are. There is not a week that passes in which we don’t hear about some story, somewhere in which a young black life is taken by a white law enforcement officer or vigilante. We are tired of the open season on our daughters and sons while citizens of our country advocate for “open carry” laws. This open season on black life ends with Michael Brown.

As he was preparing to board a bus to leave Ferguson, Greer noticed that only one of the dozen Missouri State Highway Police officers flanking the bus was wearing a name tag. Greer asked one of the officers why.

“Well, earlier this week, one of our officers’ identity was stolen,” the unidentified officer told me. “And we just can’t run the risk of that happening again.” Apparently, my face expressed my level of discontent with the officer’s less than convincing answer. “You don’t believe me, do you?” he asked. “Absolutely not,” I retorted. When asked how this conflict would ever come to an end, the officer, said, “We’re dealing with people who come from homes with no authority, so who knows?”

In other developments in post-racial America, the U. S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that it had begun a civil rights investigation into the practices of the Ferguson police department. Two African-American men were released from death row in North Carolina after spending more than 30 years in prison for a murder they did not commit. And The New York Times published an analysis illustrating that “in hundreds of police departments across the country, the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve.”


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