St. Louis YouthBuild's Story
St. Louis YouthBuild staff and students respond to the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
The events in Ferguson, MO, in the summer of 2014 surrounding the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer had a deep impact on the St. Louis YouthBuild program, the program closest to Ferguson. The events triggered ongoing, emotional conversations with students, and large and small group dicussions were organized to dig deeper into the issues that emerged out of Ferguson and to come up with ways to address them.
Some of the St. Louis YouthBuild students participated in the peaceful protests, forums and demonstrations at local churches and community centers. At all times, YouthBuild staff were trying to ensure their safety. Students and staff there also spent a day in Ferguson helping to clean up the community and meeting with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Conversations like the ones at St. Louis YouthBuild are happening with YouthBuild students and staff across the country. "It is important that the students, whose deep feelings of fear and anger are being evoked by the events in Ferguson, have a channel for communication that is thoughtful, peaceful, does not make them vulnerable, and increases their power to make a difference," commented YouthBuild USA Founder and CEO Dorothy Stoneman.
For YouthBuild student leaders around the US, improving police relationships with community residents have always been a high priority.