Now that #Ferguson is no longer trending and the media hype has died down a bit, what’s been going on in the St. Louis suburb that held national attention over the last month? Things in the small city are far from back to normal since the August 9th shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown which brought issues of racial profiling and excessive force to the forefront. Here are a few updates you should know:
1. No Federal Charges Have Been Filed Against Darren Wilson
Even though the video footage captured in the moments right after unarmed Michael Brown was gunned down has emerged, Darren Wilson is a free man. St. Louis County Circuit Judge Carolyn Whittington has extended the grand jury’s deadline to consider whether the Ferguson police officer should be criminally charged to January 7th. Officer Wilson has been suspended during the investigation. The Justice Department is also conducting a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson police force’s conduct, use of force, traffic stops, searches and the treatment of detainees. In August, protesters led by Attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz filed a $40 million federal lawsuit in against the Ferguson police department for violation of civil rights and excessive force used against protestors. The lawsuit names Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma and several unnamed officers.
2. Ferguson City Council Created a Review Board to
Save Face Guide Police Department
The Ferguson City Council meets today for the first time since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown to establish a review board. Their goal is to help guide the police department and make other changes aimed at improving community relations. One of the city leaders’ promises to boost minority recruiting for the local Police Department.
3. The State of Emergency Has Been Lifted by Governor Nixon
Although tensions are still high, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted the state of emergency on September 3. Nixon first declared a state of emergency on Aug. 16, signing an executive order and implementing a curfew between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. This was followed by calling in the Missouri National Guard. His decision has been met with criticism because it means he no longer has the option to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Michael brown’s killing. Protesters have gathered outside current St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s office to demand he be replaced on the case. McCulloch is said to have strong family ties to the police community.
4. Protesters Are Still Going Hard for the Arrest of Darren Wilson
Even though the governor has lifted the State of Emergency, things are far from back to normal. Large and small scale protests have continued. Most recently there was an attempt to block part of Interstate 70 which is close to the place Michael Brown was killed.
Dozens were involved in the demonstration, but the planned rush-hour traffic shutdown fell through last Wednesday after a wall of officers in riot gear blocked demonstrators from walking onto the highway.
— deray mckesson (@deray)
5. Brown Family Attorneys: Autopsy Revealed Michael Brown was Surrendering When He was Killed
In August, Brown family attorneys stated that the private, family-requested autopsy of Michael Brown showed that one of the gunshots that struck the teenager in the head went from “back to front” indicating that he was surrendering at the time of his death. Michael Baden, the medical examiner who carried out the autopsy, would not openly back this statement but he reported that Brown was struck by six bullets and at least two were two were to the head. Shawn Parcells, who assisted in the autopsy, said it appeared that one of the bullets could have struck Brown while the teenager was surrendering, but then back tracked by saying it was “not definitely clear”.
6. Michael Brown Family Has Appealed for His Juvenile Record to Be Off Limits
The family of Michael Brown just issued an appeal to St. Louis Post-Dispatch to drop its pursuit of information on the dead teenager’s juvenile record. The family believes the facts surrounding Brown’s death were sufficient to provide the public with the information they needed on the unarmed teenager. In a letter to editor, Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers for the Brown family writes:
“We know many things about Michael Brown. We know that he was 18 years old when he died. We know that he was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer. We know that he wasn’t armed at the time he was shot and killed. We know that his body was left uncovered on the ground in the baking sun for hours, causing untold agony for his family and community.
We also know that he was facing no criminal charges at the time that he died, either as a juvenile or as an adult. Michael Brown, as it turns out, has no arrest record. The last fact is a particularly difficult truth if you are trying to make a case that Michael Brown deserved what he got. Or if you’re trying to drive traffic to your website.“
Article by Shahida Muhammad