No Safe Place: Ferguson Postpones Start of School Year

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A child uses a rag to shield his face from tear gas being fired by police who used it to force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty)

At least 30 people were arrested last night in Ferguson, Missouri, as unrest continues over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

On Monday, Governor Jay Nixon lifted the city curfew, a move that coincided with the deployment of the Missouri National Guard. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to arrive in Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with agents overseeing the federal investigation into Michael Brown's death.

President Barack Obama addressed the growing tensions in a press conference Monday afternoon. 

Ours is a nation of laws: Of citizens who live under them and for the citizens who enforce them. So, to a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let’s seek to heal rather than to wound each other. As Americans we've got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity," the president said.

But for those living in communities where unrest and distrust continues to weigh heavily in the air, and a greater law enforcement presence does not necessarily equate to peace, and some school districts have now closed—putting classes on hold in order to prioritize student safety.

The decision to cancel school is one Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, made on Monday. Spurgeon oversees the school district that includes the location where 18-year-old Brown was shot.

Combined with recent events, the closure has left parents like Melissa Baird Fitzgerald in desperate need of hope. In response, Fitzgerald organized the “Parents for Peace” Facebook page to welcome students on their first day despite the uncertain start of the school year. 


Melissa Baird Fitzgerald and Scott Spurgeon

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman and Sana Venjara


T.J. Raphael

Comments [10]

Ed from New Jersey

Why does the media feel they have to make every story like this about race? The result of this type of coverage is to ignore the issues in the community. Ferguson's problems will not be resolved by stirring racial tensions and riots but having a open and honest dialogue and making changes in elected officials.

Aug. 20 2014 10:19 AM

Dont know whats going on in Ferguson in regards to the killing. I dont hear anything from officials and I cant understand why it is taking so long for the facts to come out *from those responsible*. I heard lots of accusations and sauppositions, but it deosnt look good for Ferguson's gov't that they cant seem to be more transparent on this event.
That being said, there should NEVER be protests after dark. Go Home take care of your family and responsibilities. Protests after dark only invite unruly behavior and associations with those who commit such acts.

Aug. 20 2014 09:46 AM
Michelangelo from Miami FL

Sorry for the typos below. I was a bit verklempt.

Aug. 20 2014 09:22 AM
Michelangelo from Miami FL

You think black people have it bad in Ferguson. Check out Miami. The hatred for blacks ran deep enough for whites to give Cuban immigrants instead of blacks and continue to be the "minority" in a minority majority population. Politically, Cubans were protected by Republicans since Castro took over but here whites did not like these new immigrants. They were loud, aggressive, and spoke no English. Yet when whites needed to fill needed workers their hatred for blacks was greater than for Cubans. The torch has been passed as Cubans have a hatred for blacks almost as deep. You still don't see the black population properly represented in the public or private sectors. Worse yet, Cubans as a minority continue to use the same equal opportunity rules when competing against blacks for the same contracts. Guess who gets the job an overwhelming amount of times? Since the American Revolution, blacks have been involved in the evolution of this country. Their merits in our technological advancements, in military accomplishments, and in making our culture desirable to the rest of the world have always been suppressed in media, in schools, even in just general public discourse. I always wondered why blacks would behave differently when I was growing up. When you allow yourself to visualize the actions and consequences of subjugating an entire segment of our population you're whole outlook changes completely. You eventually have to ask yourself, "Why do we hate black people?"

PS: For those of you not in Miami, consider how much whites hate(d) Jewish people. Yet American Jews were allowed to conduct business, establish schools and hospitals, and eventually become integrated in all levels of government, courts, and the media. Even with the millennia-long hatred for Jews, American whites still hate blacks more!

Aug. 20 2014 09:19 AM
dano from lauderdale

I thought it interesting that they didnt ask the young man if he ever felt in danger of being shot by another black person.

Aug. 20 2014 09:11 AM
Mason from Jackson Height, NY

I am a male of European decent. I am outraged by what happened in Fergunson. I am outraged that people of color are and have been since the Civil War, short changed in the work place, in education, health care and employment. It breaks my heart every time I become aware of law enforcement executing men of color on the streets of this nation with little or no provocation. I can empathize with the citizens of this country who are frustrated and angered by the racism in the US. I don't know of a solution for racism in this country. What I do know, is that when I go to my polling place to vote I make a concerted effort to vote for candidates that I believe to have acknowledged the racial and economic disparity in this nation and seem to be willing to put an end to it while in office.

Aug. 19 2014 03:38 PM
Mister Webb from Illinois

I was a child in the 60's when nationwide unrest similar to Ferguson was occurring. We lived in a small, all white rural village in central Illinois. There were no local police.

My parents were news junkies and we had the news on every night while we watched supper.

While I realized that we were very far away from the worst of the riots, I remember worrying when my parents were out of town thinking that they were not safe. I also remember having bad dreams about dog attacks and children being beaten. I also remember being a little afraid of policemen.

I am now a news junkie myself. I should be used to the chaos on the media. I realize that peace is not news. Still, these stories from Ferguson give me a certain amount of sadness and anxiety.

Aug. 19 2014 02:41 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

African Americans in our society has gotten a raw deal:

On one hand, The African American community gets kudos for its ability to express their pain creatively with music, dance, and comedy, and on the other hand, chastised for having a swagger for which many other cultures in our society fear.

I have read " Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison 4 times and it has helped me understand the fear people have of the African American community. I recommend it.

Aug. 19 2014 01:37 PM
Caroline from NJ/USA

It is lovely, and necessary for children to go to school together with all different kids and ethnic diversity, and have teachers and other educators speak out when they hear, or witness bigotry, and bullying.

I'm not so sure it's good to try to protect children, although I understand a parent's wish to do so for her younger children. I would not take them into town, but I would watch SOME TV and have a conversation about what is being televised - riots included. Your kids will, FOR SURE, hear versions of what's happening when they get to school. It's a good idea for them to know how you see things, and tell them to "stay out of arguments, or disagreements since they can lead to misunderstanding, but come home and tell me", sort of conversation.

The BBC had an interview with people living just a couple blocks from the upheaval. There were 5 children in that family, and they were handling that situation with lots of talking about what was on TV. No matter if it's happening down the block or a state away, our kids need to understand how life can go wrong and have parents' values about being strong, but staying safe.

If you are a person of color in Ferguson, your life IS different from others. If you don't believe it, then you have not seen what's happening, nor listening to the Gov. Nixon, who had no compassion, but was interested only in authority, and restricting behavior no matter RIGHTS to ASSEMBLE.

Thank goodness for Ron Johnson who has taken police to a higher level of expertise - AND taken into custody well over 30 trouble makers without one shot fired from any policemen. AMEN! That's how it should have been done from the beginning!!!!

By the way, I'm 67 years old and white - I DO see color, and it is a beautiful thing!!! My eyes are open to everything, and I am not quick to jump to conclusions!

Aug. 19 2014 12:37 PM
John McLaughlin from Hi Nella, NJ

I think you are missing a huge angle to this story: Where are Ferguson's elected officials? In all the media coverage of this story, I have not heard or read of any action or comment by Ferguson's mayor or city council. Let's hear what they're doing - or why they're not doing a thing.

The riots and out of control protest illustrate a huge lack of leadership on the part of Ferguson's elected officials. Doesn't the police department report to the mayor? Maybe the apparent lack of engagement by Ferguson's elected officials indicates a source of the problem.

I listen to (and love) your program on WHYY in Philadelphia, PA.

Aug. 19 2014 12:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.