Equity & Diversity

Riots, School Cancellations, Conversations About Race Follow Police Shooting of Teen

By Evie Blad — August 11, 2014 2 min read
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The Jennings school district near St. Louis delayed today’s planned first day of school until Tuesday, citing safety concerns after rioting and looting in areas near its schools continued into the early morning hours, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Protests and anger erupted after police shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American, outside an apartment complex in nearby Ferguson, Mo., Saturday afternoon. The FBI has agreed to investigate the shooting, the Post-Dispatch reports.

“Safety is our uppermost concern,” Jennings Superintendent Tiffany Anderson wrote in a note to parents announcing Monday’s school closings. “At this time we do not feel it’s safe for our students to walk to school.”

The Ferguson-Florissant district is scheduled to start school Thursday. Missouri Education Commissioner Christ Nicastro said on Twitter that the state department of education “is working with area school districts as necessary to ensure the safety of students as school resumes.”

Protests Continue

While images of looting are filling newscasts, many peaceful protests and calls for careful examination of the shooting continue. Alderman Antonio French has been posting Twitter updates from the protests.

The Start of Conversations

Many are drawing parallels between the police shooting of Brown and the 2012 shooting of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin. The Brown family has even hired the Martin family’s attorney, several outlets have reported. Nationally, the Missouri incident is sparking many of the same conversations about justice, race relations, and identity that the Martin case did. And it’s rekindling conversations about deep racial divides in the St. Louis region.

If you’re an educator looking for a peek into some students’ discussions on the situation, you might turn to social media, where hashtags like #Ferguson and #MikeBrown are popular. Under another hashtag, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, young black men are having powerful conversations about how they are portrayed in the media that start with the question, “If they gunned me down, which picture would they use?”

Photo: A man jumps through a broken window with bottles of wine in his hands as a QuikTrip store is looted on Aug. 10, in Ferguson, Mo. —David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.