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50 Years of MDCR #3: Chris King… Covering Ferguson (video)

50 Years of MDCR #3: Chris King of The St. Louis American on Covering Ferguson Protestctechad (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 25, 2014)

Fifty years ago, The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was created as part of the new State Constitution adopted in 1963. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because gallowaycollens1of religion, race, color or national origin, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The MDCR celebrated its successes and contemplated the future with a Civil Rights Symposium at Wayne State University Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights on Sept. 19, 2014.

In the interest of exploring the media’s role in progressing Civil Rights, the MDCR brought in Chris King, the Managing Editor of The St. Louis American, the nation’s oldest African American newspaper. King and his coworkers not only reported on the protests in Ferguson, MO following the killing of Michael Brown, but they worked with police and the public to help mitigate situations that could have been much worse for the city.

“You hear about citizen journalism. Some of the best journalism was done by citizseed03_ann_warnerens,” King said. “But we practiced what I call journalist citizenry. We are professional journalists, but in the process of covering the story we became engaged as citizens.”

In the first days of the protests, King and others were appalled by the response by the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department. “Every peaceful protestor was treated like an active shooter. You had your hands in the air but a rifle pointed at you like you were a sniper,” he said. “I’d been looking at it on television saying ‘this is crazy.’ ‘This is wrong.’ So I called this police chief [in a different city]… I said ‘well what can we do?’… He called back and he said,sidebar01sponsor here’s what you can do, you can get the governor to take over.”

“We came up with a game plan. Hit the Governor high and hit him low. Hit him high with a Senator and the White House, and hit him low coming up from the County Executive.” Using his contacts, King helped facilitate the state helping take over the situation.

King was critical of the County leadership. “My analysis of what Jon Belmar was doing was he was trying to destroy the protest movement, not police it. And it’s difficult if you think about it. It’s a protest movement against the police, policed by the police. So its really in the interest of the police for the movement to fail. One way for it to fail is to be violent.”

Another way King and The St. Louis American got involved was in helping to catch arsonists. He described oakland115 reikihow there were young white people going in and teaching protestors how to make fire bombs. He suspected that the people were “contras,” outsiders who came in to make a tense situation worse by trying to incite violence.

After research King figured out who the main culprits were, and as he stayed watching the action unfold on Twitter and Vine, he spotted them. “I used Twitter to guide the police chief to them and they arrested them right then and there.”

King shared other stories, and talked about the role journalists can play in helping to bring about justice. While King has made national news himself, and received accolades for his work, he cautioned those in the audience against feeling any victory. “We haven’t won anything,” he said. “Officer Darren Wilson’s not been charged with a crime, and we’ve accomplished nothing. There will be more violence, I’m sorry to say, in St. Louis.”

Watch King’s remarks in the video below, and check out other stories in our 50 Years of MDCR series below that:

Over the next couple of weeks, the Oakland County 115 News Hub will share video and stories from the symposium in our series: 50 Years of MDOC.

Learn more about the MDCR at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr.

Learn more about the Keith Center at http://keithcenter.wayne.edu/

Learn more about Kamilia Landrum and the NAACP at http://www.naacp.org/preview/pages/board-member-kamilia-landrum.

For other stories in this series see:

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/23/50-years-of-mdcr-2-speaking-on-the-future-kamilia-landrum-video/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2014/09/21/50-years-of-mdcr-stories-of-civil-rights-in-michigan/

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