We are a year removed from the situation that dominated the media for months upon months after a white police officer killed an unarmed teenage African American by the name of Michael Brown. The city that it took place in Ferguson, Missouri has had it’s fair of changes but for some it’s not enough.
There’s a new judge in town by the name of Donald McCullin who is African American and seeks to take over a spot that’s heavily scrutinized within the city. Brown’s death became a symbol of the police brutality that takes place against African American’s in America today and highlighted the racial inequalities as well.
Although McCullin just became the judge he will be leaving as quick as he came because he’s approaching 75 years old, and he has to step down once he does so.
The community that housed Mike Brown and 21,000 other African Americans is still in progress. Ferguson has started by rebuilding its commercial areas and making it’s once white government more diverse.
Despite this Ferguson remains divided, between the people who believe in change, and then those who believe that nothing has changed.
The nightly protests that were taking place have ceased, but law enforcement is expecting for it to all heat back up as the 1-year anniversary approaches. The family of Mike Brown has called for peaceful vigils honoring him, but the police are prepared for anything.
There have been significant changes that can’t be denied such as new programs, and new laws that have been enforced since the incident. There also have been increased funds for job training, and college assistance.
The most significant of all changes is the court system being revamped, replacing the long time judge, and two heavily criticized practices: holding people in jail for days on minor offenses when they could not post bonds, and piling on new “failure to appear” charges against those who miss court.
There still are problems that haunt the city though, such as how white the police force is. That’s one aspect that hasn’t really changed, as it’s the same way it was when Mike Brown was gunned down. Efforts to solve the tension between white police officers and blacks are in it’s early stages, and hasn’t really taken off yet.
Some people close to where Brown was actually killed say nothing has changed, and they remain just as skeptical now as they did then of police officers.
“The mind-set is still that it’s normal to have the police stop African-Americans and harass us and shake us down,” said Phil Gassoway, a Ferguson resident.
A result of Mike Brown’s death was the looting, violence and burning of properties which they haven’t recovered from yet as well. Two main districts of business were both hit pretty hard and are still struggling. South Florissant Road and West Florissant Avenue both haven’t had the best of luck since the jury told the public Darren Wilson would not be charged. The latter have was closer to Mike Brown’s death and got it especially bad.
South Florissant is getting back on its feet faster than west as fewer traces of the violence remain. Owners say most of the businesses are returning on top of the ones that never were damaged. A wine bar, bakery are just a few things home to the neighborhood as well as a cigar shop that just moved in.
Despite hiring a few new black officials the hiring of black police officers have been slow. A year ago 4 of the cities 50 officers were black and now the number has only inched up to 5.
New judge McCullin has made it more normal to hand down community service instead of crazy fines and lengthy sentences too much of the public’s approval.
Problems still remain though, and there’s a big one that’s hurting the police officers. A lot of the officers are now scared to pull people over in fear of being called a racist. It’s being called the Ferguson effect, which the officers hate because it’s hindering them from doing their jobs.
The problems still linger but steps are being taken to change what’s going on in Ferguson but of course it won’t happen over night. They are heading in the right direction, but time heals all wounds, and that’s what it’s going to take to permanently fix Ferguson.