It was a tense, fiery City Council meeting on Tuesday at the Greater Grace Church in Ferguson, Mo., as residents came to air their grievances and demand answers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
According to the report, more than 600 residents came to the meeting, where they continued to voice their demands for change in their community after the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police Officer Darren Wilson.
The Post-Dispatch reports that during part of the meeting, the council started to address a promise it had made the day before, to reform the municipal courts, which have been accused of victimizing the poor. This, the news site reports, was one of the changes for which the community was pushing, but in the face of recent events, it did little to appease the crowd.
Before the meeting began, the church’s founder, Bishop L.O. Jones, pleaded with the assembly to remember that they were “still in the house of God.”
“Be angry and sin not,” the bishop urged the crowd, quoting from the Bible.
Still, as the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the audience reached the phrase “and justice for all,” many in the crowd added shouts of “For all!” the Post-Dispatch reports.
When Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III informed the crowd that the council would not be answering any questions, there were exclamations of protest. Residents stood up and raised their fists, shouting, “Shut it down!” according to the news site.
The council read through various ordinances that would be voted on at a later date, including an overhaul of the court system to reduce the percentage of city revenues from fines and other court procedures to a maximum of 15 percent—or else use the excess for community projects.
But the crowd’s focus was on the death of Michael Brown and the lack of representation in their community, particularly in the police force and the council.
“What I see up there, for me, is taxation without representation,” Louis Willis, a former mayoral candidate who plans to run for office again, told the Post-Dispatch.
Many commented on the attitudes of police officers toward young black men in the community.
“It’s been a constant game of getting pulled over and getting fined,” Terri Franks, the mother of three teenage boys, said of her sons’ experiences with officers, the Post-Dispatch reports. Franks said that the travel she does for work doesn’t allow her to be in court with her sons. “You guys don’t answer the phone. It’s impossible to ask for just maybe another court date.”
When the residents were asked to give their names, one man responded, “My name is Mike Brown … my address is ground zero.”
Others in the audience echoed words of warning for the city’s leaders to do the right thing to serve justice. “If Darren Wilson doesn’t get justice, you might as well bring back the army, because it’s going to be chaos,” one 18-year-old resident, Joshua Williams, said, according to the Post-Dispatch.
At the end of the meeting, which concluded at 10 p.m., even the bishop urged the council to be more open and to give the community the answers it sought. Jones noted that even his children would get upset if he did not answer questions. “You didn’t answer any questions tonight,” he said. “Let’s be honest. It’s time for change.”
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.