Daily Video

August 20, 2014

Police shooting in St. Louis brings new tension to Ferguson

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There was new unrest in Ferguson, Missouri yesterday, after police shot and killed a robbery suspect in nearby St. Louis who reportedly threatened them with a knife.

The robbery suspect encountered police on the street shortly after allegedly stealing several items from a convenience store, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. Officers shot the man after he waved a knife and approached them, Dotson said.

The incident fueled anger caused by the recent shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. In both cases, the shooting victim was black and officers were reportedly white.

The Brown shooting on Aug. 9 spurred protests in Ferguson that remain ongoing. After over a week of unrest, Gov. Jay Nixon deployed the National Guard to Ferguson.

A recent poll shows show a divide in public perception of the Brown shooting, according to Carroll Doherty, director of political research at the Pew Research Center.

Twice as many black participants as white participants said that the shooting raises important issues about race. 65 percent of black participants thought that the Ferguson police response has “gone too far,” while 33 percent of white participants gave the same response.

As protests continue, public schools in Ferguson that were scheduled to open last Thursday remain closed. Student safety was a factor in this decision, Jana Shortt, spokeswoman for the Ferguson-Florissant School District, said.

Over 75 percent of students in Ferguson rely on school for meals, Shortt said. Community groups have stepped in to provide lunch for these students while schools are closed.


Warm up questions
  1. Where are St. Louis and Ferguson located?
  2. What do you already know about the fatal shooting of Mike Brown?
  3. What do you think the term “over-use of force” means when it is used to describe police action?
Critical thinking questions
  1. How much of a role do you think race has played in how people are reacting to the shooting of Michael Brown and now the fatal shooting of a robbery suspect? Do you think if both shooters and victims were of the same race there would be as much controversy surrounding the events? Explain why or why not.
  2. Using the graphic below, explain – in your own words – what the chart is showing. Make sure to include who was being polled and the questions asked. Next, do you think this graphic does a good job showing the information? Specifically, is it clear or difficult to interpret who believed what?
  3. Briefly list the steps it would take for you to poll students at your school about the role of race in the shooting in Ferguson. What challenges might you face by polling students about race? Would you present the results of your poll the same way as they did in the chart in the report, or would you do it differently? Make sure to explain your decisions.
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