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Michael O.D. Brown May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014

August 9, 2019 Featured, Ferguson, History/Preservation Comments Off on Michael O.D. Brown May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014

Five years ago the world learned where Ferguson Missouri was located because a young black man was unnecessarily killed by a white police officer. We’ve seen it happen over and over since.

Days later roses in the center of Canfield Drive ended at the spot where Brown’s body was left for four hours the afternoon Saturday August 9th, 2014
A section of the Canfield Drive sidewalk was replaced, along with a plaque. August 2016 photo.
9/7/16

The Urban League built a new facility on the site of the nearby burned out QT, there also included a plaque. August 2017 photos below.

ADA-compliant accessible route from public sidewalk to Urban League building set back behind parking.
Bench along route, before building
Plaque beneath bench

I have thoughts on proposed development in Ferguson & Dellwood, but I’ll share about those another day. Today I pause and think about Michael Brown and the too-long list of others who were unarmed but died in the hands of police. Hopefully in my lifetime I’ll witness the end of such discrimination.

— Steve Patterson

 

I Woke Up Two Years Ago

August 9, 2016 Featured, Ferguson 6 Comments

The shooting of an unarmed African-American by a white Ferguson police officer was what opened the eyes to myself and other whites to what blacks had been saying for years. Two years ago this morning Michael Brown died on Canfield Drive.

Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street. August 22, 2014
Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street. August 22, 2014
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown. August 22, 2014
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown. August 22, 2014
By the first anniversary a plaque had been placed, photo date 9/7/15
By the first anniversary a plaque had been placed, photo date 9/7/15
We visited again on Sunday 9/7/16; more than a year later, the concrete still appears new
We visited again on Sunday 9/7/16; more than a year later, the concrete still appears new
9/7/16
9/7/16
Looking East down Canfield Dr toward the spot where he died
Looking East down Canfield Dr toward the spot where he died
Too far for me to walk to the spot, but we slowly drove by it to look at the items people have left
Too far for me to walk to the spot, but we slowly drove by it to look at the items people have left

We weren’t the only ones stopping by on Sunday. Signs indicated Canfield Dr will be closed Tuesday morning for a vigil “planned at the memorial site on Tuesday, August 9th at 10:30 a.m.”

The list of incidents in the last two years it two long to mention — evidence much work remains to be done.

In March 2015 I did three posts on a future Empowerment Center at the site of the former QT:

  1. Will the Urban League’s New Ferguson Center Be Urban or Suburban?
  2. Two Community Plans Intersect at Former Ferguson QuikTrip Site
  3. Top-Down Auto-Centric Thinking Continues In Ferguson, Still Time To Change
The plan was a building set back behind a parking lot. 
The plan was a building set back behind a parking lot.
As of Sunday, the site has been cleared. The opportunity still exists to build a more urban building up to the public sidewalk
As of Sunday, the site has been cleared. The opportunity still exists to build a more urban building up to the public sidewalk

The ground breaking was in July 2015, but in March of this year it was announced it would be triple the original size. No mention of the site planning.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Year Later Conditions ‘Slightly Better’ In Ferguson

August 12, 2015 Ferguson, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on Readers: Year Later Conditions ‘Slightly Better’ In Ferguson

In the Sunday Poll readers indicated conditions were “slightly better” than they were just before Mike Brown was shot a year earlier. Protests, rightly so, continue because conditions are only slightly better, rather than significantly better.   And criminals use the protests as an opportunity to cause chaos.

Aside from the political & institutional, the physical isn’t much better. Most buildings burned are now just vacant sites. Only one was rebuilt.

Public Storage office at 9291 W. Florissant in August 2014
Public Storage office at 9291 W. Florissant in August 2014
Same after the late night decision to not indict Wilson, November 2014
Same after the late night decision to not indict Wilson, November 2014
Not sure when this new office was completed. photo: August 7, 2015
Not sure when this new office was completed. photo: August 7, 2015

The results:

Q: It’s been a year since Mike Brown was shot in Ferguson. How would you rate conditions today compared to just prior to his death?

  1. Slightly better 16 [44.44%]
  2. Unchanged 7 [19.44%]
  3. Significantly worse 4 [11.11%]
  4. Slightly worse 3 [8.33%]
  5. TIE 3 [8.33%]
    1. Worse
    2. Other:
      1. better in what way?
      2. Tougher for the lawmakers; open season for the law breakers.
      3. Same, but with more awareness of how bad conditions are
  6. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Better
    2. Significantly better
    3. Unsure/No Answer

The current conditions are institutionalized and will take decades to change.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: How would you rate conditions today compared to just prior to Mike Brown’s death?

One year ago today Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. For today’s poll, a barometer of how things stand today compared to a year ago.

Please vote below, the answers are presented in random order. The “conditions” are left up to you to interpret.

 

The poll is open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Remove/Change The Confederate Memorial

First, let me apologize for the lack of posts Monday & Tuesday, our new fiber optic internet in our building went out last Saturday night. Our building’s IT provider didn’t get it fixed until after 4pm yesterday.

Sunday the poll software didn’t automatically close the poll at 8pm like I had set it to do. As a result, the poll stayed open until I noticed it Monday morning — closing it via my smartphone. That said, the percentages are roughly the same as they were at 8pm the night before:

Q: What should St. Louis do about the confederate memorial & street name in Forest Park?

  1. Change the street name & remove the memorial from Forest Park 20 [28.17%]
  2. TIE: 14 [19.72%]
    1. Do nothing
    2. Change the street name & supplement the memorial with additional information
  3. Change the street name, leave the memorial in Forest Park 11 [15.49%]
  4. Leave the street name, supplement the memorial with additional information 10 [14.08%]
  5. TIE: 1 [1.41%]
    1. Unsure/no answer
    2. Other: Change the street name and move the memorial History Museum grounds 
  6. Leave the street name, remove the memorial from Forest Park 0 [0%]

The “do nothing” vote was less than 20%, conversely those who wanted change of some type was more than 78%. This is a great opportunity for a public process to brainstorm possible solutions that’ll help us reach a consensus. Last week I visited the confederate memorial to check it out, I’ve lived here almost 25 years and didn’t know about it until recently.

I also asked landscape architect Eären Hummel for her thoughts, which were:

  • I think there should be a dialog, rather than a reactionary move. Further, I don’t think the monument should have been placed there to begin with.
  • City parks are meant to be places for all people to have a respite away from their busy lives, I think a park is no place for a confederate memorial, especially without the balance of a union memorial. That may sound “politically correct”. A civil rights garden could be created of the area, if the process is inclusive of all the players that civil rights – or lack there of – has affected. Whatever is done, I think it is important that it is not just a bandage, but true dialog.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no monument to the Union soldiers in St. Louis, nor a Civil Rights monument/memorial other than the “Naked Truth” sculpture at the Compton water tower. And that is really a monument to 3 German men, and not really for the cause of civil rights. Meaning there is not civil rights memorial significant to African-Americans.
  • The lack of other memorials in St. Louis, I think speaks volumes about the attitudes of the people of StL. Reinforcing the notion of white supremacy, everyday racism… It is the ongoing issues that were raised in Ferguson last summer, but have since fallen silent. Personally, I think focusing on removing flags or memorials skirts around the true issues and are only platitudes to quiet the cries of racism.
  • One thing that greatly bothers me about the monument, is the statement on it about the “battle to preserve the independence of the states…” The war was fought over slavery, as very clearly stated in the southern states on declarations. It was treason. The statement on the monument is revisionist history of the “lost cause”. That I find offensive and reprehensible. For that alone, I wish the monument was not there as it perpetuates erroneous “history”.
  • I would leave the language as is, but definitely have a panel next to it explaining that it is wrong, and why many people wanted to rewrite the history of the war.
  • It is a beautifully crafted monument by a notable sculptor.
  • I believe a civil rights garden could be sensitively incorporated into the park. There have been numerous additions to the park over the years.

I agree the memorial represents revisionist history and shouldn’t have been built. Let’s take a look…

The confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The 32 foot high confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay,
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay, Click image to read about him on Wikipedia
The words on the south face
The words on the south face
I could't read the revisionist  text on the north face
I could’t read the revisionist text on the north face
Confederate Dr is in poor condition
Confederate Dr is in poor condition, the memorial is on the right

Renaming, or even removing, Confederate Dr is a given — relatively easy. The memorial is a much more complicated issue. The words are offensive, but it is a good reminder of St. Louis’ race problem. I think we should discuss the creation of a civil rights garden that would educate visitors on events from our history, for example:

There are many more that could be included in a civil rights garden, these could all be told.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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