12% – That is the historical voter turnout for the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that voter registration booths were set up next to the memorial for Michael Brown, and many people are saying that this is where real change can take place in the community.
Jessica Lee has been covering events in Ferguson, and like many reporters she has tried to focus more on the community rather than the hateful things being said outside of the area. On Saturday, she tweeted a photo of a voter registration booth being put up next to the community’s memorial to Michael Brown.
The voter registration table was set up shortly after protesters came from outside Ferguson to help the community in this turbulent scene. The community wanted change from what they perceived as a history of tension (and worse) between the mostly white police force and the mostly black community. The department hasn’t been very welcoming to change in their procedures, and while Chief Jackson said the offending officer didn’t have a “record”, neither do the officers how beat a man and then tried to charge him for bleeding on their uniforms in 2009.
As the rain stopped in the afternoon, several hundred people took to the streets of Ferguson for a peaceful march.
The march began at the Canfield Green apartments near where Michael Brown was shot a week earlier.
Rev. Rodney Francis of the St. Louis Clergy Coalition pointed to voter registration tent at the scene. “That’s where change is gonna happen,” Francis said.
Debra Reed of University City and her daughter, Shiron Hagens, were working at the registration tent. They said they set it up on their own.
“We’re trying to make young people understand that this is how to change things,” Reed said.
Among the signs held by the demonstrators, was one that had a picture of Brown and read: “Black lives matter.” Another said: “Mike Brown is our son.”
Another sign targeted the city’s police chief. It said: “Tom Jackson you should be ashamed. Please resign now.”
Earlier, FBI agents could be seen knocking on doors at the Canfield complex seeking information about the shooting of Brown on Aug. 9. His death has touched off several days off protests and looting, including the night before.
— Doug Moore, Steve Giegerich
Now, if only 12% of Ferguson shows up to vote, then it might make sense how Jackson has managed to keep his job over the years. It might also makes sense why other close elections went the direction that they did in St. Louis.
The discovery of the 12% turnout was made by MSNBC’s Al Sharpton who made a challenge to the community.
“Michael Brown is gonna change this town,” he said, before criticizing the paltry voting record on the area. “You all have got to start voting and showing up. 12% turnout is an insult to your children.“
There are many different resources to help you in getting registered and informed as to what issues are being voted on. Project Vote, Vote Smart, and Rock the Vote are just a few of them, and I’d encourage everyone to go out and register now for this November if you haven’t already done so. Every time you give up your vote, you empower extremists who rely on your apathy to stay in power.