On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year old African-American male, was shot dead by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, who is white. On the day of the shooting, Michael Brown and a friend were allegedly caught walking in the middle of the street. Officer Darren Wilson pulled up next to Brown in his police cruiser, approached Brown and his friend, and an altercation ensued resulting in Brown’s death by the officer’s weapon. This tragic incident is just one of many injustices that have occurred in the city of Ferguson. This once vibrant city has been spiraling downward since the 1970’s and the Michael Brown shooting and death incited riots on a national and global scale. Unfortunately, in Ferguson there was arson, break-ins, violence and looting, brought on possibly by years of mistreatment and injustice, not only by the police officials but also the city, county, and state’s elected officials. Violent rioters were fed up with being treated as less than and some of them felt the only way to vent frustration was to act out. Residents were outraged over police brutality and the list of deaths of unarmed young black men at the hands of police officers is growing. Peaceful and violent protesters had simply had enough of the brutality and injustice and felt they had been pushed long enough and were at an impasse with authority.
Ferguson is a suburb about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis. When the schools became desegregated, many white families fled to western portions of the county. Before desegregation, Ferguson was mostly white, however today it is nearly 70% black (Foxnews, 2014). Of the nearly 21,000 people living in Ferguson, (Ferguson, MO local data search, 2015), around 25% are living below...
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... less powerful than others, but the magnitude of helplessness of Ferguson residents reinforces their anger and hurt. According to Lewicki, Barry, and Saunders (2010), third-party negotiators can often give the parties time to cool off and refocus on the issues. Third-party negotiators can also help repair strained relationships. Intervention on a scale as large as Ferguson will be a daunting task and results will not happen overnight. Unfortunately, Ferguson has endured decades of neglect and may take decades of hard work to repair, if it can be repaired at all. Once the media coverage dies down, the conflicts and despair remain. Residents are left to pick up the pieces and move forward. With the Justice Department and the President of the United States keeping watch over Ferguson, hopefully change will happen and the residents and city can begin to heal.
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