Ferguson City Council Will Consider Request for Permanent Michael Brown Memorial

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Jessica Lussenhop
The weather-worn memorial on Canfield Drive, November 11, 2014.

The spot in the street where Michael Brown died has become hallowed ground in the past eight months. A memorial there grew from a bunch of roses laid by his mother to a tall, narrow pile of stuffed animals, framed pictures, T-shirts, flowers and other trinkets. An even more massive memorial bloomed on a nearby lamp post.

Though it has attracted visitors from all over the world, some locals have grown weary of it.

"There's a lot of residents that are not happy with dodging a memorial in the middle of the street," says Ferguson mayor James Knowles. "We've had to try to plow around it in the winter months. We've had people, unfortunately, drive through them, whether it's purposeful or accidental. It creates a road hazard."

Last night, the issue was formally brought before the newly seated Ferguson City Council in the form of a letter from the Joint Council On Policy and Social Impact, requesting in conjunction with the Brown family that a permanent marker be laid and the current memorial cleared.

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Michael Brown Memorial Tree One of Two Destroyed in Ferguson

Categories: Crime, Ferguson

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Tony Rice aka @search4swag
The damaged Michael Brown memorial tree and the hole where a plaque once sat.
UPDATE: We've updated this story to include comments from a member of the Black Caucus' executive committee. See our update at the bottom of the post.

Original story follows....

On Saturday, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association dedicated a memorial in January-Wabash Park in Ferguson honoring Michael Brown.

By Sunday, the memorial had already been destroyed -- the tree planted in Brown's honor damaged, and the stone memorial missing, KMOV (CHannel 4) reports.

As it turns out, however, two trees at the January-Wabash Park were damaged this weekend, and now two plaques are missing, says activist Tony Rice, who visited the site this morning. The tree featured in the KMOV report that was completely destroyed was dedicated to someone else -- the Michael Brown tree was damaged but still has some leafy green leaves on top.

However, both trees are missing their plaques. Brown's had said simply, "In Memory of Michael Brown Jr. Dedicated tree 4/15."

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Former St. Louis Cop: "Police Don't Care What Your Rights Are" During Protests

Categories: Ferguson, Police

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Danny Wicentowski
Terrell Carter.
The words were chanted in the streets of Ferguson, blasted from car stereo systems and graffitied on the plywood panels covering store windows: "Fuck the police."

Yet amid the police shootings, mass demonstrations and intense media coverage of the past eight months, we've rarely had the chance to hear from officers on the ground, those men and women who stood silently on picket lines as protesters hurled invective and insults. Daily RFT's attempts to interview officers directly were repeatedly rebuffed. Occasionally, police chiefs and public relations officials updated reporters on general morale, but officers from the St. Louis region's various police departments largely closed their ranks to outsiders.

However, some former officers have chosen to speak out about their experiences on the force. Terrell Carter, now a minister, artist and teacher, served as a cop for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department from 1997 to 2002. This year, he published a memoir of his years policing St. Louis' streets, Walking the Thin Blue Line: A Police Officer Turned Community Activist Provides Solutions to the Racial Divide.

We sat down with Carter this week to talk about St. Louis' police culture and how he thinks police could have better handled the Ferguson protests.

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Ferguson Court Clerk Fired for Racist Emails Says Losing Her Job Was Like "Being Raped"

Categories: Ferguson

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KMOV
Mary Ann Twitty thinks racist jokes are all right, as long as they're funny.
"It took me a while to get over the feeling of being raped and being thrown under that bus."

That was how Mary Ann Twitty, the former Ferguson court clerk, described getting fired from her job after the U.S. Department of Justice released emails containing a bunch of racist jokes that she'd forwarded to two police officers.

It was one of several off-putting responses in a raging garbage fire of an interview with KMOV (Channel 4) yesterday, during which Twitty also rejected the conclusions of the DOJ report that accused of her of setting high fines and encouraging officers to write more tickets.

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Ferguson Elects Two New Black City Council Members

Categories: Ferguson

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Jessica Lussenhop
The former makeup of the Ferguson city council, from September 2014.

The citizens of Ferguson elected three new members to its city council yesterday, bringing its members from majority white to half African American.

Ella Jones won decisively in Ward 1, replacing former Ferguson police officer Kim Tihen. Former Ferguson mayor and I Love Ferguson founder Brian Fletcher edged out activist Bob Hudgins in the 2nd. Finally, Velda City municipal judge and St. Louis Community College professor Wesley Bell claimed victory over opponent Lee Smith in Ward 3.

"We could not be more ecstatic -- that means we're reaching our constituents," says Bell. "When you have a community that is engaged, the sky's the limit."

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Four Journalists Sue St. Louis County Police Over Arrests, Injuries During Ferguson

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Danny Wicentowski
The night of the arrests in Ferguson.

Four journalists are suing the St. Louis County Police Department in federal court over their August 2014 arrests in Ferguson, claiming that their First Amendment right to freedom of the press was violated.

The plaintiffs are Ryan Devereaux, a staff writer at the Intercept; Lukas Hermsmeier, a freelancer reporting for Germany's BILD newspaper; Frank Herrmann, a U.S. correspondent for a group of German newspapers; and Ansgar Graw, senior political U.S. correspondent for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag. All four were arrested in the early hours of August 19, 2014, ten days after the shooting of Michael Brown. At the time, tensions were still high as protesters came out nightly to West Florissant Avenue, and police were using tear gas and rubber bullets.

"I was really taken aback by the way that protesters and the media were handled from the moment I got there, by the police," recalls Devereaux, who is based in New York City. "I felt that in many circumstances the police were behaving irresponsibly, and at times dangerously, toward media and protesters alike."

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MO History Museum Contacted Jewish Group Before Nixing Ferguson-Palestine Event

Categories: Ferguson, News

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Ray Downs
Activists organized last summer to protest the war in Gaza. The same activists are now mad at the Missouri History Museum.
Two days before a panel discussion on Ferguson, Palestine and the Ayotzinapa student massacre was set to kick off, the event's host, the Missouri History Museum, handed the panel's organizers an abrupt ultimatum: Remove Palestine from the agenda, or find a new location for the event.

Organizers refused to budge, the event was canceled and about 100 people protested outside the museum last week to accuse the St. Louis institution of "silencing" Palestinian voices. The event was later rescheduled at a different location.

Though the museum disputes accusations that it engaged in censorship, emails obtained by Daily RFT show that on the same day officials canceled the event, the museum's president, Frances Levine, was fielding concerned emails from the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. Further email correspondence reveal the that the museum specifically pressured an organizer to eliminate Palestine from the discussion panel.

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Suspect Who Allegedly Shot Two Officers Confessed to "Confidential Source"

Categories: Crime, Ferguson

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St. Louis County PD
Jeffrey L. Williams' booking photo.

According to the warrant issued for his arrest, Jeffrey L. Williams told a confidential source that he is responsible for shooting and wounding two police officers at the Ferguson Police Department on March 12.

As first reported by Yahoo News, the warrant details how an informant who had been "proven reliable in previous law enforcement investigations" contacted Ferguson Police Department detective Robert Brannan to say that he or she "had a phone conversation with a subject who claimed he was involved in the shooting of two police officers in the City of Ferguson."

The informant met with Brannan, where he or she was given a hidden audio and video recording device, then went to see Williams at his house in north St. Louis.

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Missouri History Museum Cancels Ferguson Event Over Inclusion of Palestine

Categories: Ferguson, News

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Ray Downs
Supporters of Palestine held a vigil last year during the most recent war in Gaza.
Anyone who has sat through a rain-delayed baseball game can attest that there are times when, as the saying goes, the best laid plans go awry. But, as a group of student organizers and local activists learned Tuesday, plans can also go awry when the Missouri History Museum decides the issue of Palestine is too controversial to be handled at a public event.

The event in question, titled "Ferguson to Ayotzinapa to Palestine: Solidarity and Collaborative Action," was scheduled to run Thursday night and had been advertised as such for weeks on the museum's website. So organizers were surprised when museum officials abruptly changed their minds, demanding Palestine be removed from the event's program. The organizers refused.

"They gave us an ultimatum, either that we don't include Palestine or that we don't do the event. So at that point we said that we weren't going to do the event," Bradley Schlesinger, one of the event's organizers, told Washington University's Student Life.

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Darren Wilson Gives Speech to Non-Profit for Cops "Wrongly Accused in the Line of Duty"

Categories: Ferguson, Police

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Facebook via Hunt For Justice
Christopher Hunt, director of Hunt of Justice, welcomed Darren Wilson to speak to law enforcement supporters last weekend.
A St. Louis non-profit that raises funds for police officers' legal funds welcomed a very special guest to its annual trivia night on Saturday -- former Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.

Hunt for Justice director Christopher Hunt, who is also an officer with the St. Charles County Police Department, tells Daily RFT that Wilson made some brief remarks to open the organizations' yearly gala. According to Hunt, there is no recording of Wilson's remarks, but Hunt says Wilson did not mention anything about Ferguson.

Although Hunt For Justice has contributed an undisclosed sum to Wilson's legal defense in the past, Hunt says the funds collected Saturday will not go Wilson, and that he was not compensated in any way for speaking. Hunt declined to provide a dollar amount for how much money was raised during the trivia night.

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