Young people healing and searching for peaceful solutions in Ferguson, MO
Tension is mounting in the St. Louis area as residents await a grand jury decision about whether to indict the police officer who shot an unarmed teenager six times in Ferguson, MO in August. Demonstrations occur daily, but the faces and voices of a broad cross section of people in Ferguson who are seeking change rarely gain air time. NIOT is posting a series of stories and short films called the Ferguson Conversations. In this short video, young people share ideas about how to improve relationships with the police.
A Ferguson Youth Led Summit
Local student leaders from the Ferguson Youth Initiative came up with the idea to hold a summit to talk about how to make change in the aftermath of the tragedy their community has experienced. In late September, young people gathered at Florissant Valley Community College just miles from where Michael Brown was shot. Joined by community members and educators, the group talked about how the relationship between youth and the police of Ferguson needs to change.
Ferguson Youth Initiative members meet regularly and host a variety of activities, including an earn-a-bike program, free computer courses, visits to farmers markets and other local sites, and an open arts event where youth can express their ideas and tell their own stories.
Gail Babcock, Ferguson Youth Initiative (FYI) Advisor, says that if Michael Brown had not been killed, he may have ended up in the Ferguson Youth Initiative Program. Many of the youth involved with the non-profit organization have received municipal fines and are now working them off with community service.
During a recent session, Babcock says that a number of the youth opened up about their own trauma, “it just occurred to them that for the grace of god it could have been one of them.”
Bri Ehsan, a student participant in the youth summit, was empowered by her peers and said that young people need to lead the way to create change, “this is not just a Ferguson issue anymore, this is a nationwide issue.”