5 Minutes in Ferguson

It’s the epicenter of a movement.

Last weekend while visiting my grandfather in St. Louis, I was able to drive through Ferguson, Missouri. I know many people are tired of hearing about Ferguson, the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, but this post isn’t about what we need to do to change. I’m not here to make you believe or think one way. The goal is to describe what I saw from my perspective and what I took away from my 5 minutes in Ferguson.

Nothing I saw was overly dramatic. There were no protestors in the streets or in front of buildings. There weren’t any extra police cars roaming around looking for trouble. It looked like any run-down, poor, crime ridden neighborhood in an urban area would look. Yet, there were still signs of violence from the last two summers lining the streets. Store fronts were boarded up, buildings lay on the ground in a black crisp, and windows were missing from many of the gas stations. Evidence of the protesting, looting and military control that followed Michael Brown’s death is front and center for everyone to see.

Right before my grandpa and I drove out of Ferguson and into the next St. Louis suburb, we passed by Canfield Drive. I had no idea of it’s significance until my grandpa said, “That’s where Michael Brown was shot to death.” From the main road there was nothing to see, although I’m sure there’s a memorial farther back. After passing the street we were out of Ferguson. Just like that.

While the “visit” was short and only touched the surface of what has happened in the community, it got me thinking. Not about who is to blame. Not about police brutality or race issues. About change. All I could think was, “Something needs to change.”

Change is a hard thing to accept and an even harder thing to accomplish. I have no idea how we can fix problems brought to the surface by the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and more. But after seeing only a small portion of the devastation, it was obvious that the time has come for change.

It also made me think about how lucky I am. In Mason we are constantly told that we live in a “bubble.” Everyone who lives here is extremely lucky to live in a safe community where we don’t have too much to worry about. Seeing the way others have to live- in fear, in poverty, in despair- was very eye opening to me.

I’ve seen examples of this before, but Ferguson was different.

It is a community that wants change, but doesn’t know the right way to get it. It is a community that has been so effected but tragedy, unrest and media for the past year that they haven’t had a chance to rebuild.

Most importantly, it is a community still trying to heal.

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