Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American male, was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. According to The New York Times, Officer Wilson shot Brown at least six times – twice in the head and four times in the right arm.
Witness Piaget Crenshaw said to The Los Angeles Times, “They shot him [Brown] and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed, and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
A woman identified as Josie by The Los Angeles Times reported that Officer Wilson shot Brown in self-defense. Josie said Wilson stopped Brown and Dorian Johnson for walking in the street. Wilson tried to get out of his car, but Brown pushed him back into the vehicle. Brown struggled for Wilson’s gun and the gun fired once.
“Michael just bum-rushes him, just shoves him back into his car, punches him in the face,” Josie said. “Brown and Johnson ran away from the car after the gun fired. All of a sudden he [Brown] … started to run at him full speed. He just kept coming; it was unbelievable.”
Following this event, Ferguson has experienced heavy traffic from an influx of reporters, protesters and emergency relief. The suburb has also been subject to violence, rioting and looting. Parking lots for big businesses, such as Target, have become something of a base camp for journalists, police officers and news crews.
The events following Brown’s death have come as a shock to some locals.
“It was like any other neighborhood,” said Ferguson resident Donya Williams. “It was quiet because it’s an older community. Kids went out to play. I never felt unsafe or anything.”
Williams also suggested media representations of the events have been inaccurate.
“They’re making it to be that there is a bunch of violence in that area and normally there isn’t. It’s typical kids – typical people going about everyday life,” Williams said. “They have made it a whole circus down there … I think that’s one of the reasons I refuse to look at the news because it’s just crazy.”
Despite the suburb’s chaotic state, locals and businesses are attempting relief efforts. Restaurants serve free food and church members pass out Bibles and water while law enforcement works to restore order to the town.
Brown’s death has prompted arguments of institutional racial inequality among individuals and mass media alike. The shooting has become a tale of systematic segregation and racial hierarchy in the U.S. For many protesters and activists, Brown and Johnson exist as political vessels for debate surrounding unresolved racial issues.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Williams said. “The community and the police officers have to learn to communicate with each other. There needs to be a better relationship. It’s not something that’s going to be healed in a year from now. It’s just going to take some time.”