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Ferguson residents speak to town’s tragedy

August 20, 2014 at 6:34 PM EDT
Amid protest and tension over the killing of Michael Brown, the residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are contemplating what the events in their community mean for them and the whole country. Hari Sreenivasan offers an array of voices from Ferguson.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Amid the demonstrations and the tensions between protesters and law enforcement is reflection about what the events in Ferguson mean for the community and the country.

Here is a sampling of what Ferguson residents and others have told the NewsHour in recent days.

George Paige has lived in Ferguson for decades.

GEORGE PAIGE: I’m almost 50 years old, so I have been in the shoes of the young people.

I have had cops put guns to my head in the middle of the street. So I understand the protests and the anger. My nerves are real bad about just the whole situation, because some days I want to be mad. Some days, I can’t be mad because somebody’s got to have structure for those young people. We have got to have a level head for them young people. They — I can see their grief. I see it. I lived it. I lived it. So I know why they feel it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Cheryl Frager grew up in Ferguson and has seen the community transformed in recent days.

CHERYL FRAGER: The police in our district are being portrayed as the bad guys right now, and that needs to stop. I support the police. I support our community. And I support justice. Rioting and justice cannot go hand-in-hand.

We have to have peace. And police have to go home to their families and be able to protect and serve everybody, not just one race. We’re all humans. We all bleed red.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Eighteen-year-old Yale Harris went to school with Michael Brown.

YALE HARRIS: My purpose is being there. I’m supporting. I’m trying to get justice to what happened to Mike Brown, because I actually went to school with him. I just know he was a cool person to be around. He was very calm.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Twenty-three-year-old Ferguson resident Ahyria Butler says the episode has raised questions about the actions of law enforcement.

AHYRIA BUTLER: It bothers me, you know, since the police feel like they can do whatever they want, because that’s not true. They’re here to protect us, not kill us, not harm us.

If you’re going to wear that badge, wear that badge pridefully. Don’t wear it like it’s a “I can do what I want and get away with it” badge. That’s not it.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Texas native Angelique Kidd has lived in Ferguson now for 11 years.

ANGELIQUE KIDD: We have been for the most part pretty much heartbroken, angry sometimes. There is a big divide. A lot of Ferguson wishes that pretty much it would just all go away. I mean, I’m not sure it’s been long. Yesterday, we — we actually took a break yesterday and didn’t protest. We have been protesting in the streets since last Thursday, and with signs in our yard since last Tuesday, so we’re exhausted.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Devario McDonald traveled to Ferguson from Milwaukee to make his voice heard.

DEVARIO MCDONALD: I want them to kind of make a change with the police system. I mean, anything — any incident involving, like, a shooting, especially without no weapon, no firearm, I think that it should be — that the officer should get in trouble because you just shot this person down, this person wasn’t a threat, this person had no weapon on them, nothing. This person didn’t try to fight you. You just shot this person down like an animal.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Ann Brown has lived in Ferguson for three decades.

ANN BROWN: I hope Michael’s family continues to heal. And I also feel really sorry for the police officer’s family. Everybody’s affected. Their lives have been threatened. Even the mayor’s life has been threatened from people from out of town on Twitter. How sad is that?

GWEN IFILL: You can find all the voices from Ferguson collected by the NewsHour’s Mike Fritz and Quinn Bowman on our Rundown.