INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – On Monday, Michael Brown’s family was calling for peace in Ferguson, Missouri. It’s been nearly two weeks since a police officer shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old. The investigation into what happened is still ongoing. And tensions have been lingering ever since.
The Rev. Charles Harrison of the 10 Point Coalition, weighed in on what it will take to calm the crowd.
“This could happen almost in any city because you have all of these quality of life issues that really impact the urban core,” said Rev. Charles Harrison of the 10 Point Coalition.
Harrison has been watching the news in Ferguson, much like the rest of us. But he scans the crowds with veteran eyes.
“One of the things that I noticed, probably the second day is that you had gangs with their colors on in the crowd,” said Harrison.
He says what Ferguson is missing is people who know the community, can talk to the community, and can be mediators between police and the people, especially when emotions run high. Harrison says the heavy-handed tactics by police, may not be necessary if there were community leaders and clergy who would step in.
“When you have police who are in military gear who are using tear gas, and have guns drawn it’s going to incite those young people,” said Harrison.
He says while most of the crowd is peaceful, there are agitators who tend to act out late at night. He says in Indianapolis, they try and avoid potential standoffs between people and police by talking it out.
“If we see gangs or neighborhood cliques, we immediately engage them and let them know what’s going to be acceptable and what’s not going to be acceptable,” said Harrison.
Harrison says members of 10 Point have been on the phone with pastors in Ferguson, and he says some members may go to Ferguson to help. He says communication is going to be what makes the difference between peace and more unrest in the town.
“People have to talk, you have to get the community leaders in the room with the police department, the mayor and other stakeholders,” he said.
He also says it’s time to start ending the protests earlier, to get more adults in the crowds to keep a sense of calm, and to make sure protesters are constantly moving. He says those changes would create an atmosphere where leaders and people can come together and focus on the real challenges facing Ferguson.
“They have made their point and I think the whole world now is watching what’s going on in Ferguson.