Violence in Ferguson leads to difficult talks - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Violence in Ferguson leads to difficult talks


The violence unleashed in Ferguson, MO, after an officer shot and killed an unarmed teen is leading to difficult conversations across the country.

African-American families are discussing racial profiling. Parents of all races are discussing the upsetting scenes with their children.

Melvina Weaver talks to her children about it at home. She told them to stay calm if a police officer pulls them over or stops them.

"Talk to him like you got some sense," she recommends. "Show him that he's doing the right thing."

Others in her neighborhood near Prospect Avenue offered similar advice.

Joe Simmons, who has lived in the area for more than 15 years, said interactions with a police are a necessary part of life.

"Be respectful," he advised, "because you never know the type of officer that might be in your presence."

Talking with young black men about racial profiling is a part of Pat Clarke's job as a community outreach specialist. He works closely with the Kansas City Police Department and leads a group called Daddies on Duty to encourage conversations about race, crime and justice.

He acknowledged the struggle many African Americans face while interacting with law enforcement.

"It's a reality," he said. "It's the truth."

But Clarke added that most officers in his neighborhood only want to serve the public and that racial profiling is a small part of a larger issue – crime and violence in the urban core.

"What's going on in Ferguson is not going on in Kansas City," he said. "If we're going to talk about the things that happen with police, we need to talk about everything. A black man is murdered by a black man in America every day."

Honesty and openness is what therapists recommend that parents do when talking to children about Michael Brown's death and the ensuing violence.

"You have to talk about these issues," said therapist David Strother. "You can't keep them under the table. You have to allow a person, children or adult, to have a full range of emotions."

He said adolescent teens have trouble coming to terms with events and tragedies that seem unjust.

"As you see bad things happening to good people and good things happening to bad people, it can be difficult to deal with that cognitively," Strother said.

Events of recent days can have longterm implications about how some children view police, race and justice in the future. Strother recommends having conversations about the shooting and riots now.

"They have a very keen metric for knowing when someone's not keeping it real with them," he said. "So when you're talking with your children, the first thing you should do is normalize behavior."

He said parents should expect some children will go through a grief cycle and recommends monitoring children closely in the coming days. He said some will fear it could happen to them.

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