Organizers of events marking the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., must stress to everyone involved that the demonstration must be peaceful.
That was not the case about a year ago when days of violence and unrest followed the Aug. 9 police shooting of the unarmed 18-year-old after a confrontation between the two men. Brown was black; then-Officer Darren Wilson is white.
Organizers in the St. Louis suburb are planning a day of civil disobedience to mark the anniversary that led to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, highlighting police killings of unarmed black males nationwide. The event is being called “Ferguson Uprising Commemoration Weekend,” The Associated Press reports.
It will include a silent march beginning at 11 a.m. Aug. 9 from Canfield Drive, where Brown was fatally shot and several memorials have remained in place ever since, to St. Mark Family Church. The Ferguson Action Council is planning an art event as well as rap and rock concerts.
Aug. 10 is being set aside as a “Day of Civil Disobedience and National Call to Action. State grand jury and Justice Department investigations led to no charges being filed against Wilson, who resigned from the Police Department. However, a Justice Department investigation of Ferguson police showed widespread violations of African Americans constitutional rights in the predominantly black suburb.
That led to a lot of positive changes, including the resignations of the Ferguson municipal judge, police chief and city manager. Nationally, officials have pulled back from showering police departments with loads of military hardware. It contributed to the many flareups in Ferguson between police in military gear and protesters.
Brown’s death and the many protests and marches that followed also resulted in more voters being registered in Ferguson. This year they elected more African Americans who now hold half of the six City Council seats in the town, where 67 percent of the 21,000 residents are black. An interim black police chief also was recently appointed in Ferguson.
A QuikTrip convenience store that was looted and burned during the initial unrest is to be rebuilt as a community center. Its focus will be on job training and placement for African Americans.
But peace must dominate all of the commemorative events for Brown to keep the positive change from being derailed.