Listen to Ferguson: Portraits

By Jamie Tarabay

Photos by Matt Eich for Al Jazeera America

Published on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An 18-year-old unarmed African American youth is shot dead by a white police officer and left in the street for more than four hours. And a previously nondescript town on the edges of St. Louis explodes, making headlines around the world.

Less than three months after the killing of Michael Brown and just days before the midterm elections, the people and protesters of Ferguson still have plenty to say -- to their city, their country, the world. There is no one central voice in Ferguson. Think of it as a chorus, some voices demanding justice for Michael Brown, others focused on police brutality or voter mobilization, still others committed to changes in government.

Listen to the people of Ferguson and, while many themes emerge, there is one central message: Don't forget Michael Brown. Don't let what happened here slip away.

Here are some of their voices.

‘The most important politics that goes on in our lives is at the local level.’
— Patricia Bynes, Democratic Committeewoman, Ferguson Township
Patricia Bynes
‘You shot that boy he had his hands up. Justice gotta be done.’
— Steven Nelson, employee, Original Red's Barbecue
Steven Nelson
‘There are low expectations and once you exceed those expectations, people don’t know what to do with you.’
— Maria Chappelle-Nadal, state senator for Missouri
Maria Chappelle-Nadal
‘They're over it and I would love to be over it, but I can't be.’
— Johnetta Elzie, protester, community organizer
Johnetta Elzie
‘...I don’t have the vanity that you have at youth to think that you're fighting the critical battle of history that would change history.’
— Michael Wesley Jones, Office of the County Executive, St. Louis County
Michael Jones
‘The people responsible for criminal justice in this case in my opinion have behaved as criminals and that's why these folks are so upset.’
— Chris King, managing editor, St. Louis American
‘And I tell them if it ain't about money, I don’t want to talk about it...’
— Virvus Jones, former St. Louis City Comptroller
Virvus Jones
‘We’re not shooting for this voter registration, we’re shooting for April next year, so we’re going to keep going.’
— Maurice Williams, recent high school graduate, volunteer
Maurice Williams
‘Unfortunately black life is viewed as cheap in our society. The life of the black male is seen as cheapest.’
— Umar Lee, activist and taxi driver
Umar Lee

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