REPORTING FROM FERGUSON, MISSOURI
For people in Ferguson and beyond, a central question now is: When will things return to normal?
With the exception of one night of calm, the days since the killing of Michael Brown, a Black teenager shot by a white police officer, have been filled with violence, chaos and discord. Each night has brought some degree of violence and many here continue to wonder when it will all end.
But the theories on how Ferguson might someday emerge from this scenario vary widely. However, there seem to be a few central points that elected officials, activists and others seem to agree on.
“What would help the situation here would be the arrest of the officer and having him charged with a crime,” said Courtney A. Curtis, a Missouri state representative who represents portions of Ferguson, speaking with BET.com.
“Another thing that might help is having the Ferguson police chief resign and the Department of Justice taking over the investigation,” Curtis said. “County prosecutor McCulloch needs to resign after giving up the case. I think all of that would help the situation here pretty quickly.”
Indeed, the calls for an arrest and an indictment have come from nearly all quarters. The family of Michael Brown insists that it believes that calm in the streets will be the direct result of an arrest of Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot the unarmed Brown.
“The family believes that the arrest of the man who killed their child would help deal with the situation in the streets,” said Anthony Gray, a lawyer for Michael Brown’s parents, speaking with BET.com.
“From the family’s point of view, this is central,” Gray said. “They believe, whether anyone else does or not, the accounts from witnesses who said that their son was shot and killed in broad daylight without provocation.”
Meanwhile, there are several local officials and activists who contend that, while the overwhelming numbers of protesters are demonstrating peacefully, there is a small group that seems to be committed to violence.
Speaking on MSNBC on Tuesday, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal said that there were small numbers of out-of-town “anarchists” determined to create havoc in Ferguson. That has also been discussed widely on social media.
On the other hand, many describe genuine anger with longstanding conditions in Ferguson over the years that have made life difficult for African-American residents. They describe a high number of police stops of Black residents and a history of antagonistic relations between a 53-member police department that has only three Black officers in a city of 22,000 people that is two-thirds Black.
Still, it is clear that a level of fatigue is slowly setting in among Ferguson residents who are eager for things to return to normal, where they can send their children to school and where they can sleep without overnight turmoil.
Tune in to Justice for Ferguson: The Shooting of Michael Brown, premiering Friday, August 22 at 7PM ET/PT on BET and simulcasting on Centric at 7PM ET/ 4PM PT. Below, watch BET.com's mini-documentary as we explore Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting.
Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan
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(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)