HOW IS FERGUSON, MISSOURI TODAY?
We have all seen the media reports of the riots, looting and protests in Ferguson, MO since 11/24/2014 when the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. How is Ferguson doing now? Some have accused the media of exaggerating the conditions of the streets in Ferguson but we all know the media would never do that for mere ratings. Just to be sure we reached out to the only people we know on the ground level in Ferguson - process servers and private investigators. Miami PSPI, LLC has contacts for service of process all over the country. I reached out to several process servers we use from time-to-time in Ferguson, MO and I asked them how the streets have been for serving process since 11/24/2014. Their general answer is that all is back to normal. One process server wrote:
“No problems. News media makes it seem like there is WW 3. For a week it [Ferguson] was an area you stayed away from especially at night, but now it's business as usual.”
I also spoke with a husband and wife team who work closely as process servers/investigators with officer Darren Wilson’s defense team. They asked me to not mention their names for safety reason as they claim to have received many viable death threats. I will refer to them as Jane and John Doe to protect their identity. Jane Doe reports that to this day they thwart efforts of people who are still trying to find her and her husband and who want to hurt them. They have had to take the same measures as Officer Wilson has had to take to conceal their identity and whereabouts. When they have appeared for testimony or for interviews with the media, they appeared in disguise as they both continue to work in the Ferguson, MO area. Although Jane Doe reports that for the most part things are business-as-usual, there is an uncomfortable “heightened sense of respect and disrespect towards law enforcement” on the streets. Jane Doe is Caucasian and she works her area with a partner who is a Black male. They wear badges to let people know they are certified process servers serving official process for the court and people often mistake them for law enforcement. To this day people on the street still walk by them holding up their hands and saying “Hands up!” as well as rude comments that don’t need to be recounted here. The comments are mainly directed at her. Jane Doe feels it is because of her race but she also admits that her partner also gets them but not nearly as much as she gets them. Jane and John Doe have decided to move as they cannot continue to hide forever. It is still too soon for them to know where they are going to move.
For those who have no link to Officer Wilson’s defense, they seem to have resumed their lives as usual. I found a Facebook page titled, “THINGS TO DO IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI.” The page is filled with pictures of people enjoying themselves at local restaurants, taverns, festivals and various other local businesses. Despite the smiling faces in the pictures, they don’t shy away from the hell they went through either. The Facebook page also prominently displays a picture of a burned down restaurant called “New York Grill”. When I clicked on the picture to learn more about the restaurant I found an inspiring story about how owners “Sam and Mike” rebuilt their restaurant. They remain committed to the community and they are not going anywhere. The page also lists a link to a website their attorney created where anyone can donate money via the website to help Sam and Mike rebuild. Here is the LINK. The following is the latest post by Sam and Mike on the restaurant Facebook page:
“Thank you Sean Hannity. We appreciate your help in getting us back up and running in Ferguson.”
The very next post dated 12/13/2014 by Pamerla Burnham Degler reads,
“I saw this owner on this program and was inspired by his story. We ate there today and it was very good. Very friendly and reasonable prices.”
It is good to know that New York Grill is back up and running and we wish them all the success in the world. Jane and John Doe are still trying to figure out where they want to move. South Florida is high on their wish list. She feels that since they have to move, they may as well move near the beach as a nice change of scenery for their family. They want to be able to enjoy the outdoors longer than just the summer as the winters in Ferguson are long and brutal. In fact, Jane and John Doe have been to Fort Lauderdale, FL and they really liked it. They have been getting very tired of the cold weather in St. Louis and they have always loved the idea of living somewhere warmer near the beach. They are taking this incident as the sign they needed to finally do something about it. Jane and John Doe are not angry at anyone and they wish the people of Ferguson all the best moving forward. The people of Ferguson will likely never forget what happened in their city but they seem to be moving forward. Ferguson's wounds are healing and much progress still needs to be made. I did not get the sense that forgiveness is the predominant sentiment moving forward. Rather, it is a sense of putting it behind them so they can move on with their lives. It is not great but it is a start.