Student Discussion Forum: Ferguson
Ferguson protestors fend off tear gas. Source: http://krnb.com/
On Tuesday September 2nd, the new Director of Diversity and Inclusion Jeremiah Jackson organized a Student Discussion Forum in the Rech room, where students and teachers had the opportunity to share their feelings and opinions regarding the events in Ferguson, Missouri. It is anticipated that this type of discussion will happen on a monthly basis in the future, where students have an opportunity to share their thoughts on current events, and hear other perspectives.
A part of the forum was focused on political efforts being made to address the issues to which the incident draws attention. For example, there was a discussion about the usage of body-worn video Cameras by Police Officers, and what this would suggest about our law enforcement system. In Rialto, Calif. there was a controlled study in the year 2012 that showed that, when wearing miniature video cameras, the use of force by police officers fell by almost 60 percent. Additionally, a petition was recently submitted to the White House with over 142,000 signatures calling on the President to create a bill that would require all police officers at state, county, and local levels to wear body cameras.
Another focus of the forum was the issue of racial profiling and how Ferguson brings additional attention to this national issue. Before our discussion, we were given a sheet of racial profiling data from the year 2013 with statistics on vehicle stops, searches, arrests, etc. The sheet provided evidence that there had been great separation and tension between the police force and the people of Ferguson before the shooting; to further illustrate this point, 67% of the population of Ferguson identifies as black with only 3 of the 53 officers being black. In 2013, 483 black residents were arrested compared to 36 white residents.
As of now, authorities have not concluded from reports of witnesses whether Brown had his hands raised or whether he was moving towards Wilson when shots were fired.
Protestors gather to express their opinion in the racial and ethical turmoil of Ferguson, MO. Source: http://s1.ibtimes.com/
Published in TIME-http://time.com/3136685/travyon-sybrina-fulton-ferguson/ Sybrina D. Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin writes in a letter to the Brown family: “I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…”
What do you think are the major issues highlighted by the Ferguson case and what changes do you think should be made to address them? What changes do you think will be made?
Students attending the forum were also asked to consider the question: what duty do police officers and citizens have to keep the peace?
If you have any thoughts on the questions above, Radar encourages you to leave them in a comment below.