Community gathers to discuss events in Ferguson

Kendall McGowan, Managing News Editor

By Kendall McGowan

A small group gathered in the MLK Room Tuesday afternoon to discuss their thoughts the day after a grand jury announced it would not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Headmaster Deborah Holman invited the school community over the intercom at the end of the school day. About 10 students and 6 or 7 faculty members attended.

Holman said she felt these events have a significant impact on the high school community and she, along with METCO director Keith Lezama, wished to provide a safe space for students to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the events as well as issues of race.

After everyone had introduced themselves, a conversation began. It ranged from students’ personal experiences with and feelings about race to peoples’ thoughts on Ferguson, especially the media’s coverage of it. Anyone who spoke was granted anonymity in order to make the discussion feel safer.

Many of the black students who attended said that they found the lack of repercussions for Officer Wilson very upsetting and unfair.

“It makes me feel like my life isn’t as valuable as that of a white person,” one black student said. “If you look at the facts, it’s kind of true.”

Another student, whose parents are both police officers, said that although most police know this about him, he is still regularly followed.

“I identify as American, but I really don’t feel welcome here,” he said.

One student was reminded of how she heard on the news that a black man was sentenced to 35 years in jail for shooting a police dog.

“I see it as dogs are more important than humans,” she said. “Not just humans, but black people. I think it would be the same for me.”

In terms of media coverage, one teacher thought they spent too much time focusing on the shooting itself, and not enough on the underlying social problems which led to it.

“It’s sad, but people are shot and killed every day,” he said. “Just recently, I learned that the high school Michael Brown went to lost its accreditation a few years ago, and that only 23% of black Ferguson residents voted in the last election. It’s things like these that should be receiving more coverage, because if people just focus on what the media’s focusing on, and get signs and protest for Michael Brown, the more important things won’t change.”

The Sagamore will have coverage of a protest taking place in Dudley Square Tuesday night.

Kendall McGowan can be contacted at [email protected].