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Peace Returns to Ferguson, Missouri, as Community Tries to Heal

  • Chris Simkins

Thousands of people from across the U.S. are expected to attend funeral services Monday in St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer on August 9.

The shooting, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson - after which eyewitnesses gave conflicting accounts - touched off days of violent protests and racial tensions that resulted in more than 100 arrests.

More than two weeks later, Ferguson is trying to move on.

People in Ferguson said they are trying to heal and want to rebuild their community, which is struggling with deep racial divisions.

"No matter what your race or religion or creed, there has to be reconciliation, because under no conditions should we ever be kept apart," said Tony Davis, a local minister. "We have to learn to coexist together."

Pastor William Davis and members of the Family of Faith Baptist Church are spreading a message of love rather than hate. They also are praying for peace as they try to build a stronger community.

Possible solutions

Ferguson resident Thomas Nellums said more blacks should to take part in the political process.

"If we stand together, we can conquer anything," Nellums said. "I think we need to get more people in Ferguson registered to vote so your voice can be heard about things you do not like that are going on."

Peace has returned to the streets of the predominately African-American city of about 21,000 residents. Stores are open and some residents express a sense of hope that racial tensions will ease.

"The solution is going to be bring all sides together to communicate to make sure the least of us in this society, the ones that are supposed to be the worst offenders out here, have a seat at the table, too," said volunteer John Bonds who was cooking free food for people.

Kesha Nelson helped organize a #JusticeforMichaelBrown march in Jefferson City, Missouri, and is secretary of the NAACP chapter in Jefferson City, the state capital. Nelson said she wants to inspire young people to become lawyers and seek other professional jobs.

"I hope that everybody heals and healing means love and getting information so with that they can get more jobs and have a better quality of living going on," she said.

There is still much anger over the shooting death of Michael Brown, but many residents are using their faith to help heal deep wounds while seeking reconciliation and working to build a stronger community.

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