Columbia community gathers at vigil for Ferguson; Ratliff spoke with Michael Brown's family

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | 11:08 p.m. CDT; updated 11:06 a.m. CDT, Friday, August 15, 2014
More than 100 people gathered Thursday at Speakers Circle to observe a moment of silence for Michael Brown, the Ferguson teenager who was shot by police on Saturday. More than 90 cities across the country took part in the vigils.

*Update: This story has been updated to include the new NAACP meeting time at Harris-Stowe State University.

COLUMBIA — Red ribbons, lighted candles and decorated signs were held by about 100 MU students, staff and residents who gathered Thursday evening at Speakers Circle to observe a moment of silence for Michael Brown.

Columbia was just one of more than 90 locations across the nation where people gathered for a vigil Thursday night in remembrance of the unarmed teenager shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

Through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the National Moment of Silence 2014 web pages asked cities across the United States to join together in silence and solidarity for victims of police brutality.

Three MU students, Naomi Daugherty, 21, Ashley Bland, 22, and Kailynd Beck, 22, spearheaded the local Facebook event that invited MU students to gather as one at Speakers Circle for the vigil.

Bland said she was with Daugherty and Beck on Wednesday night when they decided to do something in response to Ferguson. There were too many organizations trying to do something about it, so they thought it would be better to bring all the organizations together for one event, Bland said.

"It's too big of an issue to just tweet about it," Bland said. "I felt called to do something because it is so close."

One of the attendees, local and state president for the NAACP, Mary Ratliff, said she drove to Ferguson and met with Brown's family Monday.

"They were very distraught, the mother's very distraught," Ratliff said. "She's asking for peace so that Michael's memory isn't marred in any way."

While in Ferguson, Ratliff said she witnessed firsthand the tension in the atmosphere, fueled in part by the police department's decision not to release the name of the officer who shot Brown.

"People were angry, they were hurt and they were frustrated," Ratliff said. "They were very unhappy with the lack of transparency."

Ratliff also went to a rally Monday night at Murchison Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Louis "to encourage everybody to stick together and see to it that justice was done for Michael Brown."

At the Speakers Circle vigil Thursday, Ratliff expressed her hope that positive change could follow the tragedy of Brown's death.

"We should use this to make our country and our lives better," she said.

Beck was one of the many who stood in that circle to share her thoughts on the vigil.

"I'm happy to see a lot of black faces, but I'm also happy to see a lot of white faces," Beck said.

Many of the people who spoke said they either lived near Ferguson or had friends or family from the area. That is another reason why Daugherty said joining with the nation in Thursday night's vigil was so important.

"We have students from Ferguson who will be attending MU in the fall, and it is important that they know they have a community who supports them," Daugherty said.

Before the crowd dispersed for the night, the Legion of Black Collegians' gospel choir members expressed their feelings through song. After they sang alone, almost everyone in the crowd joined in, singing "We Shall Overcome" right along with the choir.

The Missouri NAACP will be meeting at Harris-Stowe State University at 6 p.m. Sunday to bring the youth up to date about Ferguson and to calm the frustration they have, Ratliff said.

"We'll be talking to young people about how to strategize and protest nonviolently," she said.

Supervising editor is Landon Woodroof.

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Mark Foecking August 15, 2014 | 11:14 a.m.

""This is just the first step," co-organizer Naomi Daugherty said at the vigil.

Just the first step toward what?


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 15, 2014 | 1:59 p.m.

It appears there may be aspects of this situation that are to this point unknown (and may never be fully kmown). I've been told - correctly or not - that the police cars were NOT provided with "dash cameras." If so, this was mistake No. 1 by the police department: ALL such vehicles, whether federal, state, county or municipal, should be equipped with onboard cameras.

But, but... that involves money. Of course! Living in the 21st century involves money. Just one sustained lawsuit could cost taxpayers far more than the cost of cameras. Of course there will always be those who won't beleive the results of the cameras' output - unless it enhances their view of events.

Does it srike ANYONE that allowing this situation to cool down first and THEN analyze it might be both rational and useful? Either way, we aren't going to revivie the dead, and that IS an absolute certainty.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 15, 2014 | 10:24 p.m.

Well let's see (my prior post):

First paragraph: the word obviously should be "known."

Second paragraph, the word should be "believe."

Third paragraph: the word should be "revive."

Tonight (Friday) the PBS network news, as it usually does on Fridays, had its two guest commentators comment on the week's events, including the "Missouri situation." Isn't it exciting that Missouri rates as much "talking heads" time and attention as Iraq does?

Both guests agreed that Governor Nixon had done a poor job of handling the situation and that President Obama had done a much better job, through his comments.

Maybe so, but aren't Nixon and Obama members of the same national political party?

No, I'm not going to launch a tirade concerning that particular political party, but isn't this a fine illustration of how silly all this business of "our party good, YOUR party bad" truly is? Where have all the grownups gone?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 16, 2014 | 7:38 p.m.

I think Nixon's later actions have done far more good than Obama's comments though.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 17, 2014 | 7:45 a.m.

@ John Schultz:

You may well be correct, John, but that was not and is not my point. We see weekly here in this newspaper commentary which distills down to the same thing: [name of political party] = good; [name of the opposing political party] = bad, with those "bad" folks presented as being beyond redemption.

It's not difficult to understand why this mode of "journalism" is engaged in, because producing it involves little effort and even less intellect.

Again I ask, what happened to the grownups? There once were some. Where did they go?

(Report Comment)

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