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Teens reflect on impact of Ferguson unrest

August 29, 2014 at 6:50 PM EST
The NewsHour’s network of Student Reporting Labs explore how the shooting of Michael Brown and the violent aftermath affected teens’ views of justice and race in America. Student reporters found responses ranging from frustration and confusion to a sense of promise for the future.
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TRANSCRIPT

HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally tonight, teens from around the country look at the events in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer.

We asked our network of student reporting labs how the shooting of Michael Brown and the violent aftermath affected their views of justice and race in America.

Here is a sample of those responses.

JOI MCBRAYER, Manor High School, Texas: He did commit a crime in the store, and that led to the event of his death, but that doesn’t mean his death was right.

KENNEDY HUFF, Pflugerville High School, Texas: In my eyes, I don’t even think it should get to that point. Being that you’re an officer, you have to go by a set of rules known as the use of force continuum.

So once the perpetrator gets too close into your level, your first defense should be to grab a Taser or to use hand-to-hand combat, because they are taught that. They are — deadly force is the last, the very, very last method they’re supposed to use.

ZANIYYA ASHBEY, Trinity College, Connecticut: I thought we were a little bit further along as far as race and justice in America, even though, of course, we still have some progress to make. But as far as race and justice and how the police are handling the situation, I had no idea that it could get this horrible, really.

CHAD GUSTAFSON, Windsor High School, California: Unfortunately, racism is going to be here for a while, as it has been for a very long time. I don’t think it’s fair that we blame all police officers for the action of a very few, and I think it’s also important that we wait for every fact to come through.

MAN: You must disperse immediately. This is no longer a peaceful protest when you try to injury people.

CAMILLE ESCOVEDO, Windsor High School, California: It makes total sense to me why the general public would feel like there’s a loss of meaning in the police, like this ideal of police being here to protect and serve you, when there are people in Ferguson who are protesting the death of one of their children and the devaluing of young black life, and police respond with tear gas, tanks, rubber bullets, flash grenades?

KONRAD OLSON, John F. Kennedy High School, Maryland: What happened in Ferguson, Missouri, was a tragedy, but it’s also a bit of a logical progression. Living in the type of community that I do, I see the issues a lot more than some people around the country would.

And I feel like it’s the start of almost a second civil rights movement, because it’s the same as how the first one started, and that the racial tensions have just been building up and they have just reached a boiling point now.

YAHYA YUSSUF, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Utah:  It really showed that even though segregation is over and we have a black president, equality isn’t here.

EMILY HORN, Trinity College, Connecticut: You know, you end up thinking police are my friends, police would never harm me, police have my best interests at heart. But then you see something like this, and you think that’s not the way it is for everybody. And that is something that absolutely needs to change.

PAUL OLIVER, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Utah: I think the events in Ferguson have revealed to me that racial tensions are still very real in America. And they’re just something that we don’t talk about as a society anymore.

And it’s become kind of a taboo subject. And I think schools should do more to create a dialogue about that, so that we can begin to curb those long-lasting prejudices that we have.

HARI SREENIVASAN: You can see more student voices, as well as a teachers lounge blog with strategies for talking about Ferguson in the classroom, on our Web site.