Three months after police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, protests have shown no signs of slowing down.
Anticipating unrest ahead of the grand jury’s decision on whether or not to indict Wilson, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday in preparation for greater unrest.
Being from Chesterfield, Missouri — which is in the same county as Ferguson and only a 30-minute drive away — it’s interesting to see how people in Ohio view the current situation in Ferguson from an outsider’s perspective.
Having been in Missouri when the shooting first occurred, my family and I witnessed firsthand the state’s reaction to the shooting and the events that followed.
While driving to a concert in August, my mother and sister saw pro-Wilson supporters in downtown St. Louis, and my friend who attends St. Louis University experienced pro-Brown protesters on her campus. From my experiences, it seems the reactions have been diverse.
My family lives in Missouri, my little sister was born there and it’s where I attended grade school, which is why it’s difficult to watch the state turn on itself in such a volatile way.
Watching news footage of the looting and riots made me realize that racial divides still exist in America. I was sitting comfortably in my home, while only a half hour away, an entire city was practically burning itself to the ground.
Even though my hometown and Ferguson are only 25 miles apart, these cities couldn’t be more different in terms of socio-economic status.
The estimated median household income in Ferguson is $36,121 whereas Chesterfield’s is $93,248. In Chesterfield, 84 percent of the population is white and 2.6 percent of the population is black, and in Ferguson, 30.6 percent of the population is white and 64.9 percent of the population is black. That’s a pretty huge difference for being neighboring towns.
When people think of Chesterfield, Missouri, they think of the largest strip mall in America. But when people think of Ferguson, Missouri, they think of the death of a black teenager and the looting of a city.
While I was golfing with my dad one Sunday this past August, a group of men, all of whom were white, were watching news coverage of Ferguson when one of the men made a comment about how Brown was probably on welfare. Another man at the table responded jokingly that the only way to get people off of welfare is “a bullet to the head.”
Racial tension did not disappear after the sixties. Just because it has declined and became less visible doesn’t mean it no longer exists.
The grand jury is in a catch 22 situation and as long as racial tension continues to exist in America, there seems to be no possible way the situation in Ferguson could end peacefully.
Gabby McDaris is a freshman studying screenwriting. Email her at email@example.com.