Ferguson grand jury decision recap: Mayhem as police cars, businesses burn
By Los Angeles Times Staff
Nov 24, 2014 | 11:40 PM
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will not face charges in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a grand jury has decided. Violence has broken out as protesters threw bottles and rocks at police and set a police car on fire.
By 11 p.m., a crowd of protesters at USC had swelled to more than 300. They marched towards L.A. Live and threw bottles and other objects at police officers, seeking verbal confrontations as other members of the crowd shouted for them to calm down.
About 150 protesters climbed onto the 110 Freeway, shutting down traffic. They sat down, chanting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!”
Mayhem continues, businesses burn
Mayhem continued in the St. Louis area early Tuesday in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man.
In the suburb of Dellwood, at least half a dozen cars were set afire at a dealership, according to local media. Earlier, St. Louis County Police had erroneously reported that the Dellwood City Hall was on fire, but quickly corrected itself on Twitter.
At least five businesses were torched on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.
Protesters demonstrating the killing of Michael Brown have entered the 110 Freeway south of downtown Los Angeles, blocking traffic in both directions.
Several dozen protesters are on the freeway at Pico Boulevard.
How big is Darren Wilson?
It's been widely reported that Michael Brown was about 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed about 290 pounds. The medical examiner who conducted the St. Louis County autopsy told the grand jury that Brown was 6-feet-5 and weighed 289 pounds with his clothes on.
Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson is about the same height and weighs some 80 pounds less, he told the grand jury.
Question: What’s your height?
Wilson: 6’4”, just a shy under 6’4”.
Question: A little under 6’4”?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Question: And how much do you currently weigh?
Question: That’s been your weight for a while?
Wilson: Yeah, it fluctuates between 205, 212, 213, something like that.
Below, a photo of Wilson after his confrontation with Brown.
As Ferguson, Mo., seethed with anger and unrest, several police officers pointed rifles at a carload of men near the corner of West Florissant and Chambers about midnight Monday.
A SWAT team and other officers had amassed at the Dellwood minimart, near a car that had been looted earlier. When a car barreled into the parking lot, several officers aimed their rifles as the drivers and passengers immediately threw their hands up.
A supervisor backed the officers down amidst a chorus of screams.
The minimart had been looted earlier in the night and several people were arrested, according to Dan Goodson, a St. Louis pastor who witnessed the clash.
"I'm just trying to help bring some peace here," he said. "But it's hard to watch."
Crowds had begun to thin by 12:50 a.m. with police officers and media making up most of the people lining West Florissant. On the stricken street, at least five buildings burned and the loud crack of gunshots and structures collapsing continued to echo.
Small throngs of people remained near flaming structures yelling, "Let it burn."
Wilson: I felt that another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean it was, he's obviously bigger than I was and stronger and the, I've already taken two to the face and I didn't think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right.
Question: You thought he could hit you and it would be a fatal injury?
Wilson: Or at least unconscious and then who know what would happen to me after that.
I feel like the air has been knocked right out of me. What a wonderful Thanksgiving Darren Wilson and his family will be having while there will be an empty spot at our family's table.
Christine Ewings, a cousin of Michael Brown
Wilson: I felt like I was holding onto Hulk Hogan
In grand jury testimony, officer Darren Wilson describes the moment when Michael Brown advanced on his police car.
Wilson: I tried to hold his right arm and use my left hand to get out to have some type of control and not be trapped in my car any more. And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.
Question: Holding onto a what?
Wilson: Hulk Hogan, that's just how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm.
Demonstrations in Oakland
D. Ross Cameron / Bay Area News Group
Protesters in Oakland have blocked westbound and eastbound lanes of Interstate 580, shutting down the Northern California highway.
There are no reports of violence there, but there is a big police presence in the area. The protesters blocked the interstate at Grand Avenue.
In downtown Oakland, more than 500 people gathered to protest, according to tweets by people on the scene. Some protesters lay on the ground in chalk outlines as though they were dead.
The protest in Ferguson is not the only one taking place in the St. Louis area.
A crowd of at least several dozen demonstrators chanting "This is what democracy looks like" has blocked traffic going both ways on Interstate 44 in St. Louis near the Shaw neighborhood.
Police have warned that demonstrators on the interstate could face arrest but have not closed in, and according to live stream footage from the scene, the march does not appear to have been marred by the kind of violence that is gripping Ferguson. A few vehicles have been blocked in by police and demonstrators.
Several demonstrators sat across the road staring at the police line in the distance. A live stream said the demonstrators appeared to be surrounded by police.
The Shaw neighborhood has turned into a flash point for demonstrations after an off-duty St. Louis police officer shot and killed Vonderrit Myers Jr. there in October. Police said Myers had a gun and fired at the officer, who shot 17 rounds in return.
In South Los Angeles’ Leimert Park, about 100 residents and community leaders gathered for the grand jury’s decision.
Tiara Marshall, 24, a USC film student, carried a hand-painted sign that said "L.A. supports Ferguson." She said the lack of an indictment sends a message that police can kill without retribution.
"These cops seem like they are above the law," she said. "This is ridiculous. This gives police officers the permission to kill young black and brown boys without consequence. They are going to keep doing it."
Don Fields left the rally deflated. Growing up, he said, he attended Black Panther protests with his parents and always left feeling empowered. But on Monday evening he was unsure how to channel his frustration. "I hear a whole lot of loud voices but no clear message," he said.
Amir Glover, 35, of Inglewood said he saw Michael Brown’s death and the lack of an indictment as emblematic of a larger social problem.
"We have never gotten justice," he said. "We are still fighting for Trayvon Martin, and now this. Our young people are dying and it's sad."
AG Holder says Justice Department's investigation continues
Though there will be disagreement with the grand jury's decision not to indict, this feeling should not lead to violence. Those who decide to participate in demonstrations should remember the wishes of Michael Brown's parents, who have asked that remembrances of their son be conducted peacefully. It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting.
With about half an hour of the announcement that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted, about two-thirds of the crowd had moved a couple blocks down the street and confronted police. Officers responded with what appeared to be either tear gas or smoke.
Gunshots rang out, but it was unclear where they came from.
Back at the station, about 60 officers in riot gear were taking cover behind police cars as protesters threw bottles, rocks and at least one megaphone. Police were on their knees and holding their shields above their heads to protect themselves from projectiles.
“Don’t throw it!” an officer shouted at the crowd.
Ferguson police are moving in on protesters with canisters of teargas they have been gunshots in the air people are throwing up and running
Outside the Ferguson police department, several hundred demonstrators began to jostle as the announcement came down that the officer who killed Michael Brown last summer would not face charges.
When they heard that the grand jury had declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson, a protester began to run through the crowd shouting, “Our lives don’t matter! Our lives don’t matter! Our lives don’t matter!”
Dozens of officers stood behind metal barricades outside the building. Scores of people ran up to the barricades and shouted insults at them and at riot police who were filing out of the station.
Several riot police hurried to take up a position position farther from the crowd. “Run you cowards!” someone yelled.
An officer dressed in riot gear dropped his baton, then quickly picked it up.
“What’s up, bad boy?” said a protester in a black mask who identified himself as Marcus Skull.
The officer nodded in acknowledgement.
“You ready for this tonight?” Skull yelled again.
Again, the officer nodded.
“Then you’d better keep your hand on your baton,” Skull said.
Sara Randall, 21, stood nearby with her hands in her coat pockets as she shivered in temperatures that dropped into the mid-30s.
“I expected this. No indictment,” said Randall, who came from Denver. “Did I have hopes that justice might be served in this case? Yes I did.”
President Obama called on protesters to honor the family of Michael Brown by acting peacefully and urged police to use restraint in the coming days as Ferguson, Mo., braced for unrest.
Obama spoke shortly after a prosecuting attorney in Missouri said that police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in Brown’s death. Wilson shot the unarmed black 18-year-old after a confrontation in August.
“Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone,” Obama said in a statement from the White House. “We should be honoring their wishes.”
They listened to 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses
Jurors presented with 5 indictment options, ranging from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter
3 medical examiners testified
3 autopsies returned consistent results
2 shots fired while Officer Wilson was in his police car
Brown's body lay 153 feet east of Wilson's car
Less than 90 seconds between the first shot and the arrival of a second police car
Audio of the final 10 shots was captured on video
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's statement: 'The world is watching'
While the 12 men and women on the St. Louis County grand jury have concluded their work, the rest of us have much more work to do in order to use the lessons we have learned these past four months to create safer, stronger and more united communities.
As we continue to await word on the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, I urge all those voicing their opinions regarding the grand jury’s decision to do so peacefully. I also urge everyone to continue working to make positive changes that will yield long-term social, economic and spiritual benefits for all our communities.
My commitment to the people of the region and state is this: I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and protect your right to speak. We must also make a commitment to one another: to trust more and fear less, to hold ourselves to a higher standard of personal responsibility and mutual respect, and to keep working to extend the promise of America to all our citizens.
It is my continued hope and expectation that peace will prevail. The world is watching. I am confident that together we will demonstrate the true strength and character of this region, and seize this opportunity to build a more just and prosperous future for all.
Michael Brown's family releases statement
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.
While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.
We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.
Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.
Jurors are the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch
Watch live: Announcement of the grand jury decision
The grand jury has decided not to indict Darren Wilson. Watch as St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch explains the decision.
'We are Mike Brown' protests in front of police
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department Monday night in anticipation of a St Louis County grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing of an unarmed black man.
Many demonstrators in Guy Fawkes masks wandered among the crowd, saying the night was too important to worry about identity.
Several dozen police officers stood behind metal barricades and crossed their hands in front of them while protesters used bullhorns to shout epithets and slogans.
Overhead, there was a red “Seasons Greetings” banner.
Several women watched wearing yellow shirts that said, “Amnesty International Observer.”
Individual men and women began to lead chats:
“I am Mike Brown.”
“You are Mike Brown.”
“We are Mike Brown.”
At least one protester held an upside down American flag, and a woman held up a placard that read: “Justice 4 Mike Brown indict now”
Other placards included “Imagine justice,” “We want an indictment,” “You are killing us,” “Black lives matter” and “Stop killing our friends.”
About 50 people gathered at Leimert Park in anticipation of the grand jury decision.
The crowd chanted "no justice, no peace" to the beat of drums. Some demonstrators held signs urging the demilitarization of police during protests.
Don Fields bought his 7-year-old daughter to the protest to "be a part of history," he said.
Fields said he seems himself in Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson.
"I grew up in the streets," he said. "I learned to deal with cops."
The Torrance resident does not expect the officer to be indicted but hope together the community can spark change.
Later the crowd erupted in a roar: "We're fired up and won't take it no more."
At a press conference Monday evening, LAPD Deputy Chief Bob Green, who oversees South L.A., called for peaceful protests.
"We again ask that everybody show tremendous discipline as they express their opinions. We encourage and welcome First Amendment activity," he said. "I'd ask all to protest responsibly and to really not let your rights cross over to conflict with the rights of these folks in this community."
The St. Louis County Police Department has spent about $120,000 to replenish equipment such as shields, batons, tear gas and flex handcuffs after weeks of unrest in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown depleted supplies and damaged equipment.
“Obviously we don't want to use this equipment,” county police Sgt. Brian Schellman said this month. “But we have an obligation to preserve life and property.... As police, it's our job to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.”
Man who tweeted Michael Brown's shooting shares thoughts before announcement
Emanuel Freeman was in his basement apartment when he heard shots fired right outside his house the day Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Darren Wilson. Freeman, who was 19 at the time, live tweeted everything he saw and heard immediately after Brown was shot. Freeman's tweets gained attention days later as more and more people wanted to know exactly what happened that day.
On Monday, Freeman shared some of his thoughts as the buildings in his town were being boarded up in anticipation of the grand jury decision announcement.
Christine Ewings, a cousin of Michael Brown, lives in Ferguson near where the 18-year-old died, and she wants to see the grand jury indict police Officer Darren Wilson.
“Yes, they have reached a decision,” she said Monday. “I don’t know what it is right now. I’m still praying for justice.”
The phlebotomist and single mother, 46, pictured above with her son, said Monday that she was awaiting news with Brown’s grandmother.
“This is a really trying time,” Ewings said.
Ewings previously described the fatal shooting as “unjust, uncalled for,” adding that prosecutors should have filed charges against Wilson because “they had more than enough evidence.”
“To me, it’s an open-and-shut case. But it must not be to them,” she said of the grand jury earlier this fall.
Ewings had speculated that if the grand jury didn’t indict Wilson, violence could erupt in her neighborhood, triggering a police crackdown. She saw that happen in August, when protesters and police blocked nearby streets, rendering her home inaccessible.
If that happens now, she said, she might have to move. “It’s going to be pure hell.”
It’s cold and windy in Ferguson as the sun set Monday and Linda Lipka, 50, a longtime Ferguson resident, is worried about the night ahead. For months Lipka, who is white, has attended community meetings large and small, in part to prepare for the aftermath of the grand jury decision. Lipka, who is white, had hoped to be voice that could bridge black-white racial tension in her community.
But tonight she is nervous---about protests, about businesses, about all the residents who have armed themselves in the past weeks.
“We are all scared, we are all concerned, we are all determined to get through this as a community and stay as classy as we can and to not let the threats shake our confidence in each other," she said. "When this is all said and done, then I’ll be part of the rebuilding process.”
Watch: Gov. Jay Nixon, other officials, speak ahead of announcement
From the transcript of Nixon's prepared remarks: “Later this evening, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney will announce the grand jury’s decision. While none of us knows what that will be, our shared hope and expectation is that regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect, and restraint.
“Earlier today, I visited with some folks in Ferguson, and it’s understandable that, like the rest of us, they are on edge waiting for a decision. But they are doing their best to go about their daily lives, conduct their business, and support one another and their community. I also spoke with a number of faith leaders late this afternoon who offered their prayers for peace and safety.
“Together, we are all focused on making sure the necessary resources are at hand to protect lives, protect property and protect free speech."
'There's gonna be change'
Crazy scene Mike Brown memorial. Darkness has fallen. Helicopters hovered. Many residents are fleeing
Los Angeles police officials and community leaders repeated their pleas for peaceful demonstrations Monday in anticipation of a decision from a Missouri grand jury about whether to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.
With authorities in Ferguson, Mo., expected to announce Monday evening the grand jury's decision involving the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, some demonstrators had already gathered in South L.A.'s Leimert Park by the early afternoon.
"We're certainly paying close attention," Lt. Andrew Neiman, a department spokesman, said Monday. "We are encouraging people to remain peaceful. If they decide to engage in lawful, peaceful protest, we'll facilitate that. And that's been our plan from the get-go."
"We're certainly prepared if there are people who try to do otherwise -- in an unlawful manner, or in a violent manner," he said. "But that won't be tolerated."
A resident at the Canfield Green apartments where Michael Brown was fatally shot said the complex in Ferguson, Mo., was quiet Monday after news broke that a St. Louis County grand jury had reached a decision on whether to indict the officer who killed the unarmed 18-year-old.
“We’re on edge, but it’s just anticipation to see if we’re going to get justice,” Kevin Seltzer said as he headed home. “We have fallout shelters just in case they start rioting. We have emergency kits just in case there’s injured, because we are expecting police not to respond, emergency personnel not to respond to our immediate area like they did last time. We can help each other if we have to.”
On a cold mid-November day with temperatures in the high 30s, Walter Rice, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, gathered with other demonstrators in front of the Ferguson police headquarters and beat on a metal washtub that he bought at Walmart, using a large ladle he said he pilfered from his wife’s kitchen drawer.
He chanted: “Drum major for justice,” as he cradled an American flag in his left arm.
“I am follower of Martin Luther King,” he said. “And as Martin Luther King said, ’If anyone asks who you are, tell them you are a drum major for justice.’”
As he spoke, a white, late-model car beeped its horn and a person shouted what has become the rallying cry since the August shooting: “Hands Up, Don’t shoot,” an anthem to what some witnesses have said was Brown’s attempt to surrender when he was shot.
Standing next to Rice was fellow protester Rick Canamore dressed for the weather, in a warm cap and gloves and holding a coffee along with a sign. There was a pencil rendering of the victim with the slogan: “Don’t shoot, RIP Mike Brown.”
As the men made their political statements, Yanna Johnson, a 16-year-old girl, looked on. She said she was walking home from high school.
When told that the grand jury had reached a decision about whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson and that it would soon be announced, she shook her head.
“Oh no,” she said. “The looting is going to start again.”
White House has no 'special insight' into grand jury
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the White House has no “special insight” into the grand jury proceedings and said officials had not decided whether the president would make a statement later in the day.
Earnest noted Obama’s call for peaceful protest made in an ABC News interview that aired Sunday.
“The president, I think, delivered a pretty forceful message about his view that those individuals, in reaction to the grand jury’s decision, that want to protest should do so peacefully. He cited the words of Mr. Brown’s parents who indicated that the proper way to remember and pay tribute to their son’s memory is for people to express their views peacefully,” Earnest said. “And that is a viewpoint that the president wholeheartedly embraces. And that is a message that the president has for the people not just in Ferguson but for people in communities all across the country.”
Earnest noted that the Justice Department had reached out to several local law enforcement agencies to prepare for the possibility of widespread protests.
They have listened to witnesses and looked at evidence such as autopsies. It has not been made public how many witnesses have testified, but Officer Wilson reportedly has appeared and told his side of the confrontation with Brown. According to a variety of reports and news conferences, several witnesses are believed to have testified about what appears to be an altercation between Wilson and Brown at the officer’s car.
We have yet to learn all of the details, but there are clearly many questions the jurors are likely to weigh.
What was Wilson doing when he stopped Brown and a friend on a public street? Was there a struggle at the car and what are the details? Did Wilson intentionally kill Brown or was he negligent? Did Wilson use excessive force in firing at least six times to subdue Brown? How far away was Wilson when he fired the fatal shot? Were Brown’s hands up or down? Did Wilson fire out of fear for his life or that Brown would commit violence against others?
Burned by too many rumors in the last, Ferguson resident and activist Tony Rice said "I'm still suspicious" of reports that the grand jury has reached a decision.
"It's business as usual, but I am on heightened alert," Rice said in a phone interview as journalists began to descend on Ferguson for instant reaction to the rumors.
Actually, not quite business as usual: Rice said he was currently headed over to city hall to see if demonstrators could get approval to set up a tent for activists on a public parking space half a mile from the Ferguson Police Department.
The tent would be a warming station and drop-off point for activists in the days ahead if protests go forward, Rice said.
The grand jury, meeting in Clayton, Mo. has several choices about what to do in the case of a white Ferguson police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man on Aug. 9.
Officer Darren Wilson could be indicted for murder, face lesser charges or not be indicted at all. The St. Louis County grand jury has been hearing testimony and evaluating evidence for months.
The grand jury could also ask for more evidence, but a variety of media have reported that the 12 jurors have completed their work and an announcement may come later today.
As the announcement has neared, officials repeatedly called for calm, as did the Brown family and many of their supporters. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard to help local and state police maintain the peace and to ensure that those protesting are allowed to exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
The grand jury has reportedly reached a decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The L.A. Times is working to confirm the reports.
Bloomberg News first reported that the grand jury would stop deliberating at noon today for the day. The wire service was quickly followed by CNN and the Washington Post, who both reported that the grand jury has reached a decision. Those news services cited unnamed sources.
1) Have solid sourcing that Darren Wilson grand jury decision has been made.
He may not know his future, but Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has settled some other personal questions.
According to the New York Times, Wilson last month married fellow officer Barbara Spradling. The couple obtained their marriage license in Clayton, Mo., outside St. Louis, where the grand jury is meeting to decide whether to charge Wilson.
Rev. Traci Blackmon asked parishioners at Christ the King United Church of Christ on Sunday a question not often heard on the turbulent streets of neighboring Ferguson, which remains tense with fear, anger and uncertainty as the conclusion of a grand jury investigation into Brown's Aug. 9 death looms ever closer -- perhaps as soon as Monday.
“Will you pray for Officer Darren Wilson?” Blackmon asked.
Hearing the name of Brown's shooter, the congregants remained silent.
Blackmon, who on the previous night had led a prayer vigil for those calling for Wilson's arrest, implored her flock again:
“Will you pray for his family? Because their lives will never be the same.”
A journalist’s arrest during a protest near the Ferguson, Mo., police headquarters early Sunday drew renewed attention to disputes over 1st Amendment rights in the wake of a white police officer's killing of an unarmed black man.
Trey Yingst, a reporter with News2Share, was taken into custody for alleged unlawful assembly, according to St. Louis County Police. News2Share publishes stories by freelance reporters on the Web.
A police summary notes that Yingst was among a group that was obstructing traffic at the intersection of South Florissant Road and Compton Avenue.
Several witnesses say Yingst was not in the street. He had this to say:
Just released from Clayton County jail after being arrested for exercising my 1st amendment rights on a public sidewalk. @news_2_share
Officer Darren Wilson has not been seen in public since the August shooting but he may be about to step into the public eye.
As much of the St. Louis area remains on edge with a grand jury decision looming, CNN's Brian Stelter reported Sunday that Wilson has been in touch with network anchors about a possible interview.
Wilson reportedly met with high-profile journalists including Matt Lauer of NBC, Scott Pelley of CBS, George Stephanopoulus of ABC and Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon of CNN. The meetings were off the record and held at undisclosed locations, according to Stelter.
Cooper and Lemon confirmed separately that they had met with Wilson.
For the record, I met briefly with Darren Wilson a few days ago to see if he wanted to do an interview with me. That's standard procedure
Although St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has promised to release grand jury transcripts if Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson is not indicted in the killing of Michael Brown, a court official said Sunday that a judge must review the material first.
St. Louis County Circuit director of administration Paul Fox said in a statement that Judge Carolyn Whittington would need to analyze the evidence and testimony to see if any private information should be redacted. She has not seen any of the records yet, Fox said.
The judge “does not know the names of the witnesses who have testified before the grand jury and [she] has not heard the testimony or read descriptions of testimony," Fox said. "The court has not seen documents or material presented to the grand jury."
Fox was disputing a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which reported that a circuit judge had already agreed to McCulloch’s request to release the normally confidential grand jury information. That is not true, Fox said.
The St. Louis County grand jury deliberating in the Michael Brown shooting case is scheduled to resume its work on Monday. It was widely expected that a decision would be announced this weekend, but it is still gathering information, according to unnamed sources cited by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In anticipation of the decision and possible city-wide unrest, the Jennings School District has extended its Thanksgiving break to cover the entire week. Other school districts, including Ferguson Florrissant, Riverview Gardens and Normandy, are considering closing schools, though no official decision has been made as of Sunday.
Several young women involved in organizing the Ferguson protests have described frustrating encounters with a gender barrier: men bowling them over at meetings or not inviting them to help make decisions. The media, they said, also tended to focus on the guys, who sometimes delivered more inflammatory sound bites — about, say, the likelihood of a riot.
“What you see on the ground and what you see on the news is two completely different pictures,” said Brianna Richardson, 27, a University City resident who used to live in Ferguson. “You'd think this is all about men, giving all these speeches, having all these ideas. When you're there, you see women have a more prominent role.”
This part of the St. Louis region took the brunt of the foreclosure crisis, with subprime loans turning bad and investors scooping up cheap houses to rent. Auto plants that had sustained a black middle class shut down.
Since 2000, the median household income in Ferguson has fallen by 30% when adjusted for inflation, to about $36,000. In the census tract where Brown lived, median income is less than $27,000. Just half of the adults work.