D.C. town hall aims to keep the focus on Ferguson, Mo.
WASHINGTON (WJLA) – The fallout from the conflict in Ferguson, Mo. brought dozens to a rally outside the Department of Justice Wednesday night, and to pack a popular Northwest D.C. restaurant to capacity. Many told ABC 7 News they want to make sure the momentum of the movement doesn’t fade away.
The investigation into the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson earlier this month, is moving slowly; the grand jury meets just once a week. So Wednesday night, activists held a rally and then a town hall meeting in the District, trying to keep the focus on Ferguson.
First, the activists rallied outside the Department of Justice in the name of Michael Brown. Then, they packed Busboys and Poets for a town hall meeting. Those who couldn’t get in listened to the discussion from outside. The panel of experts told the crowd that Brown’s death may be a tipping point.
“This is part of a pattern and a trend,” said Hillary Shelton of the NAACP. “We have to take a comprehensive approach to fixing it.”
Activists say part of that fix is changing the culture of policing. Ron Hampton, the former director of the National Black Police Association, says that involves more than just handing out body cameras.
“This past weekend there was a dash camera moment: a woman and her three children who had stopped and pulled over because they was looking for four black men in a tan car, and she was driving a burgundy car,” Hampton said. “We shouldn’t rely solely on the camera without addressing the policies and practices of police departments in this country.”
The problem now is how to keep the momentum going. Many at the town hall meeting told ABC 7 News they are leaning on social media and word of mouth to stay involved, and they believe this time people will be galvanized.
“It is a movement,” said activist Karen Garrison. “If one person tells one person [who] tells ten people until everybody knows, and that’s what’s happening.”
The activists vow they will keep marching and rallying to keep the issues on the front burner.
“You gotta keep it alive,” said D.C. resident Aaron Blackwell. “You can’t forget about it. You can’t get numb to these situations.”
The process moves slowly; someone mentioned at Wednesday night’s event that they are still waiting for a Department of Justice investigation to be completed in the Trayvon Martin case.