Ferguson Commission releases a reform report

The commission was created in hopes of solving racial issues in Missouri.
Hundreds of protesters lie on the floor of the Student Center during protests for Mike Brown on Dec. 2, 2014. Maneater File Photo

On Sept. 14, the Ferguson Commission released their project “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity,” stating that “the only way forward is through.”

The Ferguson Commission was created by Gov. Jay Nixon last November in response to the death of Michael Brown, with intent to help solve the underlying racial issues Missouri citizens began to uncover. After over 300 citizens throughout the St. Louis region sent in applications, Gov. Nixon appointed 16 individuals to make up The Ferguson Commission.

“We wanted to put together a group of individuals with perspectives and life experiences that represented the diversity of the region — racially, demographically and economically,” Nixon said at the Ferguson Commission Sept. 14 meeting at Florissant Valley, a St. Louis Community College.

Nixon said these 16 members have “unflinching courage,” integrity and “dedication to change” for the state of Missouri and the nation. After almost a year of discussion, The Ferguson Commission was able to propose reforms that it believes will change government systems for the better.

“(These calls of action) are what we believe to be the best starting point, the beginning of a path toward a better St. Louis,” the commission report stated.

One of the larger issues the commission’s report addressed is the lack of trust between law enforcement and some parts of the St. Louis community, Nixon said at the meeting. The report discusses how the trust between law enforcement and the community can be repaired overtime. Nixon said Missouri citizens need to give respect to the men and women of law enforcement.

“They care deeply about the communities they serve,” Nixon said at the meeting. “They know they need trust to do their jobs effectively.”

Consequently, the MU Police Department is always looking for the best way to provide law enforcement services to the community, Major Brian Weimer said.

“If there are issues, we have to address them,” Weimer said. “And as I said before, we are here to provide the best law enforcement services possible for our community. We’re out there. We want to hear what people have to say.”

Past the law enforcement issue, the Ferguson Commission values empowering at-risk youth. The Office of Community Engagement provided an additional $1 million to promote literacy for children in the at-risk school districts of Normandy and Riverview Gardens, Nixon said at the meeting.

The community can empower the youth by “setting high expectations, recognizing unique differences and developmental stages, advancing outcome-based approaches, aligning and coordinating customized services and producing college-ready and career-ready students,” the commission report stated.

The commission report said racial inequity is a study of underlying issues, not the investigation of the death of Michael Brown.

“We are not pointing fingers and calling individual people racist,” the commission report stated. “We are not even suggesting that institutions or existing systems intend to be racist. What we are pointing out is that the data suggests, time and again, that our institutions and existing systems are not equal, and that this has racial repercussions.”

The Ferguson Commission knows large changes cannot be expected overnight. Nixon said change is not easy, but Missouri stepped up where others have stepped back, and Missouri will continue to move forward.

“This report is not meant to be the end of the discussion,” the commission report stated. “And it is meant to spark extensive, nuanced, and in-depth conversations about the issues explored here, as well as the collective action to address them.”

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