Ferguson Commission Hears from Youth; Governor's Commission Hears Stories of Racial Bias, Tense Relations with Police

By Crouch, Elisa | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

Ferguson Commission Hears from Youth; Governor's Commission Hears Stories of Racial Bias, Tense Relations with Police


Crouch, Elisa, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Clifton Kinnie stood at the lectern before members of the Ferguson Commission on Saturday with a lot on his mind.

The senior at Lutheran North High School has been worried about the safety of his siblings since the police shooting death of Michael Brown. Clifton said he wants police to protect his brothers and sisters. He said it is time for systems to change that treat African-Americans differently.

"It is no secret St. Louis has become a tale of two cities," Clifton said into the microphone. "Separate and unequal. I believe I live in one of the most racially divided cities in America."

About 150 people between the ages of 14 and 24 attended the Ferguson Commission's meeting at St. Louis Community College's Florissant Valley campus. The youth summit marked a "critical beginning" for the commission in the listening process involving young people, said the Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chairman. The next meeting, set for Jan. 20, focuses on education.

"We're here to create a better and more just future for you," commissioner Brittany Packnett told the audience. "We need this generation. We need you to lead us in the fight."

For 25 minutes the commission listened as a dozen high schoolers, college students and 20-somethings spoke. They each had two minutes to make their point.

"It's not easy walking down the street and being stereotyped," said Kievonn Monger, a student at Jennings High School.

Kievonn described an evening last month when he left the school's computer lab, only to be stopped by a police officer who wrongly suspected he was carrying a gun.

"It's not easy being a young black male living in Jennings, living near Ferguson," Kievonn said. "It didn't bring police officers closer to us; it pushed them farther away."

Teenagers and adults in their 20s have been driving much of the civil unrest that began when Brown, a black teenager, was killed by a white Ferguson police officer. The Ferguson Commission was created by Gov. …

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