In Missouri, Ferguson has seen another night of heavy unrest in the ongoing uproar over the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. At least 31 people, including two journalists, were arrested as street clashes erupted between groups of demonstrators and riot police. Police are claiming they came under "heavy gunfire" and that unknown suspects shot two people over the course of the night. The protests came hours after attorneys for the family of Brown held a press conference to discuss the findings of a private autopsy that revealed Brown had been shot six times. The officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson, remains in hiding and on paid leave. We go to the streets of Ferguson to speak with Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a pastor from the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, who was dispatched to Missouri by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. "It is a tragedy that as a clergyperson I need a tear gas mask more than I need a collar to be able to do the work that I feel called to do," Sekou says.
As protests continue in Ferguson, activists are traveling to Missouri to join the movement in solidarity. We speak with one activist who has just arrived to Ferguson from Florida, Phillip Agnew, the executive director of Dream Defenders, a network of youth of color and their allies who engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and civic engagement to bring about social change. "I came here to be part of resistance," Agnew says. "We have not seen a reaction of nonviolent civil disobedience [to] officers of the state like this in my lifetime." Agnew helped organize protests to the 2012 shooting of unarmed, African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
The upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, has called to mind the racial divisions that split open in the 1960s with a series of uprisings in cities across the country. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson established what became known as the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the unrest. In February 1968, the commission famously concluded: "Our nation is moving toward two societies — one black, one white — separate and unequal." Just a month later, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked uprisings in more than 100 cities across the United States, including Kansas City, Missouri, where the National Guard was deployed and at least five people were killed. We speak with Jamala Rogers, who was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and witnessed the 1968 uprisings. She recently did a commentary for St. Louis Public Radio titled, "Kerner Commission Warning Comes True — Two Societies, Separate and Unequal." Rogers is a founder and past chair of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis, Missouri. She joins us from the streets in Ferguson.
As we continue to discuss the developments since the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, we turn to john a. powell, professor of law, African-American studies and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. "The black community tends be overpoliced and underprotected," powell says. "That’s a very serious problem."
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