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At midnight on Tuesday on South Florissant, a teenage employee at the 24-hour Walgreens has locked the door. She peers out the window at the police cars zooming past the store and hesitates to speak to me when I knock on the glass.
“We’re closed,” the young black girl says, her eyes shifting from side to side.
“But I thought this was a 24-hour store?” I ask.
“Not when the police can’t protect us,” she responds.
It’s not just white-owned businesses. Jeniece Andrews and her husband Eddie, both of whom are black, have an antiques shop just a few blocks from the police station. Andrews said a “well-dressed black man in his 30s” came into her shop a few weeks ago and said her business was on a list. The man identified himself as “the messenger.”
She sent texts to nearly 400 customers, telling them she was still open for business. But a week later, only a few people trickled in and out of the store as Andrews and I talked on a Tuesday afternoon.
“When you see hard times, you see the ugliness come out,” she told me as I sat across from her at a wooden table in the back of her store. I looked down at a framed charcoal drawing sitting by our feet. It was of a black man with tears streaming down his face.
“Do you think they are boycotting you because you’re black and not protesting?” I asked.
Andrews, who has no staff other than her husband, said she’d never thought of it that way, but it doesn’t matter because she has to survive.
“I feel for the family and I hope that justice does prevail, but as far as protesting it’s more important that business carry on,” Andrews said. “I can’t afford to close my doors to go protest.”
When I asked her how Ferguson could recover from this, Andrews paused and shook her head.
“Some people say ‘I am Mike Brown.’ Some people say ‘I am Darren Wilson,’” she said. “What about ‘I am a human being?’”
he cracks aren’t only showing on the middle-income side of Ferguson. The black community of the Canfield Apartments is feeling strained as well.
Police used to patrol this area nearly 24 hours a day. Now, there’s not a cop in sight. Currently under federal investigation and facing a slew of lawsuits tied to racial profiling and violation of civil rights, the Ferguson police have stayed away from the Canfield Apartments. And that is putting a strain on the crime-ridden neighborhood.
“The police aren’t coming out here unless it is basically a life-or-death emergency,” said Blair, who had her car broken into just days before we talked.
“Before Mike Brown, there was never a time when I could go outside and not see a police car,” she said. “Now, I don’t see them at all. And if they do come, it’s five cars deep, guns drawn.”
Blair said she asked an officer if the police could patrol the area more often. “He looked at me like was crazy,” she told me.
Wearing a cop uniform makes you a target in Canfield in the days after Brown. The people standing around are here because they’re waiting for something to happen so that they can report officers for violating their rights. You can feel the watchful eyes drilling holes into your back even during the day.
“I feel sorry for the officers,” said Blair. “Just because one of your officers did something, you are automatically targeted because you wear a uniform. It sucks to just classify all of them like that.”
For the residents of Canfield, there’s no true escape. They are stranded in this low-income pocket of Ferguson that has become a hangout for hundreds of people who just want to be near the spot Brown died.
The management company isn’t helping either. With higher crime and no police, the office on site closes early, and the employees there go home before sundown. The company told residents they could move to another property, but that would cost $400 -- an amount that most people living here can’t afford.
“I am basically stuck,” said Blair.
However, with the cops gone, some of Canfield’s own residents got exactly what they wanted.
How are these protests helping the African American community?
originally posted by: ketsuko
a reply to: amazing
No, I'm not going to treat everyone as my equal. Like it or not some are going to be better than me and some worse. I'll treat everyone as a new individual, and they sink or swim with me depending on how they behave and carry themselves. You want a fair shake with me? Treat me like you want to be treated. And I think that's all anyone has a right to ask.
A question for you. Are the protester now becoming the oppressors of the African American community in Ferguson and St Louis? It sure seems that they are now the ones intimidating their own race.