A standing room only crowd gathered at church last night for a frank town hall with Ferguson’s mayor and invited guests that included nationally respected moderator and mediator, NPR’s Michel Martin. Mayor James Knowles III, who is white, weathered heavy criticism from the multi-racial crowd and in particular, sharp disagreement from Daniel Isom about police procedure and allowing Michael Brown’s uncovered body to lay on the asphalt that Saturday afternoon. Isom, a former St Louis police chief and current professor, was recently nominated by Gov Jay Nixon to become Missouri’s top law enforcement official and the first African-American in Nixon’s cabinet. Listen at 6:45 in the NPR audio above for more.
More young people arrived as the evening wore on, Martin says, and some complained that none of yesterday’s panelists represented their generation, which has disproportionate contact with area police. Listen at 2:30 above as a 20-year-old college student tells the mayor, “The people who’re directly under you are taking our rights away,” and more. (The absence of young people, specifically, in policing discussions has been noted elsewhere.)
Listen at 4:15, too, to hear some of the views of Ferguson’s white residents, many of whom expressed surprise at learning of their black neighbors’ frustrations with police.
A Twitter chat #BeyondFerguson accompanied last night’s town hall and it’s still active today. Video of the forum, sponsored by St Louis Public Radio, is supposed to be up at noon today.