September 04, 2014

 

By Rebecca Rivas

Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American

 

On Saturday August 30, Tarah Taylor, a labor organizer from Houston, knocked on St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s door in Kirkwood.

 

A group of nine young people stood behind her anxiously waiting for a response.

 

“Unfortunately he wasn’t home,” she said, “but if he was home, I would have told him that the people of Ferguson have lost faith in the county being able to review this case fairly and it’s imperative that he listen to them.”

 

Taylor drove 12 hours from Texas to join a group of 400 young people from around the country for the “Black Lives Matter Ride” – a call to action to end state violence against black people. Joining local activists, the “riders” participated in several actions on Saturday, including the National March on Ferguson, a protest in front of the Ferguson Police Department and a picnic to raise the moral among the Ferguson community.

 

And, about 25 people canvassed in Kirkwood educating the prosecutor’s neighbors about why he should recuse himself from the Michael Brown case. McCulloch is overseeing the investigation into the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

 

“That’s the ethical thing to do and the right thing to do to move forward towards healing in this community,” Taylor said.

 

Kenjus Watson, 29, from Los Angeles, knocked on the door of an older white woman who lived two houses down from McCulloch. He introduced himself and got through a few of his talking points before she interrupted him.

 

“It was pretty quick that she said ‘I know what’s going on,’” she said. “She said she cares about her city and it hurt her.”

 

Watson asked her take a stand with them and sign a petition. However, she refused to sign the petition even anonymously. So then he asked her to talk to McCulloch.

 

“Speak to Bob about how much you care about your city and what’s going on with marginalized folks here,” Watson told her. “Instead of talking about the weather, talk about the time that you shared with two people from Los Angeles who came here specifically to ask Bob McCulloch to recuse himself because his role in this case could be problematic.”

 

She didn’t answer.

 

Yet not all of his neighbors were willing to listen to the group. Chuck Leroi, who lives cattycorner to McCulloch, came out shaking with rage. With a TV production video camera on his shoulder, he walked briskly up to the young people, pointed the camera in their faces and asked them why they were there.

 

“That’s an issue with Bob who happens to be a neighbor,” Leroi said. “It’s not an issue with you, me or anybody else.”

 

He believed the canvassers couldn’t knock on people’s doors unannounced. However, the group’s legal advisor assured the group before they went into the neighborhoods that they do not need a permit to do voter education. McCulloch is up for re-election in November.

 

The ride’s mission “aims to end the insidious and widespread assault on black life that pervades every stage of law enforcement interactions; be it in custody or community,” according to the group’s press release.

 

Although black people make up 13 percent of the country’s population, they make up more than one third of those killed in officer involved shooting across the country.

 

Rheema Calloway, 24 from San Francisco, said her journey to Ferguson started on Wednesday when she took a Megabus to Los Angeles. Then she hopped in one of the three 15-passenger vans that made the 36-hour ride to Ferguson from Los Angeles.

 

“It’s been really emotionally draining,” Calloway said. “I didn’t know that ground zero was going to have that much effect on me, being that I’ve lost so many friends and family members. But this case was different because it wasn’t black on black crime. The officer was supposed to protect and serve – but that hasn’t been the case as it relates to African-American men and women.”

Category: News



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