Ferguson Could Spark a New Civil Rights Movement

Protesters stage a "die in" inside Chesterfield Mall in Chesterfield, Mo. The crowd disrupted holiday shopping at several locations on Friday amid a protest triggered by a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)
Protesters stage a “die in” inside Chesterfield Mall in Chesterfield, Mo. The crowd disrupted holiday shopping at several locations on Friday amid a protest triggered by a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
(Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)

When it comes to combating racial inequality, Cat Daniels says her generation has failed their children.

Daniels, 53, has tried to do her part righting that wrong by cooking and serving as the hen mother for countless young people on the front lines of the protest movement that blossomed here after the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in August.

“This is 2014, and we are still confronting the problems that our mothers and fathers confronted back in the civil rights era,” said Daniels, who is affectionately called Mama Cat by the protesters. “My generation came along, and we fed off what they did. We didn’t fight and keep the fight going. Now, because we didn’t keep the fight, our children have to fight.”

The anger in the African-American community over a grand jury’s decision last week not to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, hasn’t subsided.

This suburb of 20,000 near St. Louis is still reeling after rioters looted and burned down more than businesses after the grand jury decision. The state of emergency declaration issued by Gov. Jay Nixon ahead of the grand jury announcement remains firmly in place.

Although the wounds are still fresh, the activists at ground zero of the Ferguson movement say they are dedicated to making certain Brown’s death — and the decision not to charge Wilson — marks just the beginning of a thorough self-examination about race in America.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, protesters throughout the country flooded malls and big chain stores to call on Americans to boycott shopping as a sign of solidarity with the cause.

ACTIVISTS FOR ‘JUSTICE’

On Saturday, NAACP members are set to begin a 120-mile walk that will take them from Brown’s neighborhood to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City. The point of the effort is to draw attention to activists’ calls for a change in leadership in the Ferguson Police Department and broad reforms in how police departments across the country conduct themselves.

For many young adults and teens, Ferguson has become no less than a seminal event that has opened their eyes about the state of race relations in America.

Avery Gales, 14, who regularly took part in the protests the past three months, said that his previous interactions with police consisted of him getting shooed away by officers when he would use buckets as drums and beat on them near an expressway entrance to try to hustle change from passing motorists.

Brown’s killing only hardened his views.

“This made me want to fight for justice,” Avery said, “When I heard about Mike Brown, I thought … he could be out there playing the drums. They say he died before his graduation. I just don’t want to be like that — have police shoot me before my graduation.”

RACIAL DIVIDE OVER FERGUSON

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SOURCE: USA Today – Aamer Madhani and Yamiche Alcindor

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