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Discussion: What's Next For Ferguson After The Death Of Michael Brown?

Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio

Saturday's shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson resulted in overnight violence, including looting, arson and gunshots. As cleanup began Monday morning, so did discussions about the tension throughout the St. Louis area, the response in Ferguson, and the lack of information about Saturday’s shooting.

“There should be no need anywhere for a young man to lose his life,” said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III. “We need to start talking about bridging the gap between law enforcement and the young people in the community.

“But first we have to keep our citizens here safe, and we need to keep our businesses safe and we need to preserve the community that we have here and not let it be overrun.”

Several businesses were looted Sunday night, including Zisser Tire and Auto on Florissant Avenue in Dellwood. Windows were shattered, and tires and rims were stolen from the showroom.

“The people who did this action don’t represent the community there,” said Dennis Ferguson, a manager at Zisser Tire. “I don’t want anyone to get the idea that it’s all some bad, terrible area, or these are bad people. We’re all in this together.”

Ferguson said some neighbors learned of the looting, went into the tire shop and picked up car keys and other items of value, and returned them Monday morning. He said those actions renewed his faith in the community.

“We have no plans to leave the area,” Dennis Ferguson said.

The Investigation

Rumors continue to circulate about Brown, about the shooting and about law enforcement called in to deal with the tension and turmoil in Ferguson. St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed said those rumors are spreading because there is a lack of information.

“For rumors to take root like they are right now, the first thing that has to happen is silence or lack of information that allows rumors to continue,” he said. “We need to get some good solid information out.”

The Ferguson Police Department turned the investigation over to the St. Louis County Police Department on Saturday. Since then, the St. Louis County Police Department has organized a few news conferences, but little information has been revealed.

“We need to have an answer to this — the faster, the better,” Knowles said. “Justice must be done, so we have to give this officer due process, we do have to continue on and allow the investigation to go on as long as it’s needed.”

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal stressed the need for an open investigation. Gov. Jay Nixon tweeted on Monday that he has asked the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation as well.

Delivering A Message

On Sunday, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced he would visit St. Louis. Knowles said several St. Louis County mayors and clergy leaders have asked Sharpton to “stay away.”

“They’ve asked him that because we’re fearful of two things,” Knowles said. “Number one, that his coming may incite more people to congregate, and congregating again will probably lead to people infiltrating a peaceful demonstration for some sort of subversive activity.

“Second, this is about this poor young man and his life. His life has been taken; the mother is grieving. It’s not about anybody else. It’s not about Rev. Sharpton. And it’s surely not about anything else that’s been going on.”

Chappelle-Nadal said Sharpton likely will not connect with younger residents.

“In our community, what I have been witnessing, especially yesterday, there is a complete disconnect between the older generation and these young people.”

Reed agreed, saying it’s time for a unified message even “if that means we have to contact and get Nelly.”

“We need to begin to deliver a unified message — whoever it is, it doesn’t matter who delivers the message. It’s the message that we are looking for,” he said.

Tell Us What You Know

How is the police-community turmoil in Ferguson affecting you? Please respond through our Public Insight Network. The St. Louis Public Radio uses this journalism tool to help us solicit knowledge and insight from people who become sources through the Network. Clickhere to share your experience.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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