This Is the Real Ferguson

After four days on the ground here, I’ll be leaving soon. The past couple of days have been relatively quiet and peaceful and I think at this point the larger media organizations staked out in Ferguson round-the-clock should probably either be reporting on the good, average people of Ferguson and their lives and concerns or just pull up and get out of those people’s way. The “riot porn” is over for the time being and while there exists a very strong possibility that unrest will return with a vengeance if the grand jury fails to indict Darren Wilson, for me at least it’s time to go. I work for a small outlet and despite the incredibly generous outpouring of financial support this assignment has received from the Banter‘s readers, we simply can’t afford to keep me here indefinitely.

I’ll have more to say about Ferguson — what I saw, who I met, what it all might say about the larger picture of race relations and troubling policing trends in America in the year 2014 — next week. But for now I’m going to leave you with a few pictures I took while wandering up and down West Florissant Avenue and beyond. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter maybe you’ve seen these already. Either way, let them serve as the final word on Ferguson — well, for now anyway — from my point of view. There are very serious problems here, injustices that must be confronted and should never be downplayed or dismissed. But there’s so much more to consider here as well.

This is Askia. He approached me on the street, coming out from under a small tent playing hellaciously uplifting soul music, and asked if I was registered to vote. This is action. This is the future. This is Ferguson.

This is tacked to the side of the Depot Museum, not far from West Florissant. This is Ferguson.

I saw a woman putting these up all along West Florissant two days ago. If you travel beyond that street you now find one in almost every front yard. This is Ferguson.

This is Sgt. Shepard of the St. Louis County Police Department. He’s a faithful public servant who believes in what he does. This is Ferguson.

This is Shae. She brought her sons out last night because she wants them to understand the kind of community they live in. This is Ferguson.

When I went to take this picture, the mother with these children told them to show me the peace sign. This is Ferguson.

This sign sits on a street not far from West Florissant. This is Ferguson.

This one was actually taken by Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post. This is Jameila White. She was handing out cold water on Tuesday night right next to the remote media staging area — she gave me a bottle at one point — and when the chaos started at the end of the evening and at least one of the police officers began pushing through the crowd spraying mace, she got hit, same as me. I guess after advancing on me and spraying me directly in the face, he turned his attention to — the lady sitting on the sidewalk giving away water. She said it felt like being “in hell on fire.”

Last night, though, even after having to go to the hospital on Tuesday, she was back out there.

This is Ferguson.

Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.