ROCHESTER, Minn. – An area family, filled with diversity, has been using the crisis in Ferguson, to talk about racial profiling, and what this violence will mean to their children.
More than 400 miles north of the violence, Zach, Kevin and Maurice, three teens who were living on the street until they were taken in by the Edmonds’ family, have been talking about what this violence means to them. Zach Wilson tells us he was shocked that 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed, but that the violence against him was somewhat, expected.
While the circumstances leading up to the shooting in Ferguson are still in doubt, incidents like this have started to remind Wilson about all of the times he has been a victim of racial profiling. “It was dark, around 11 pm,” he explains, “and a cop stopped me and said, ‘hey, where are you headed to tonight?’ and I told him I was going to the store.” Wilson says the cop asked if he lived in the area and upon hearing that his house was only a block away, he turned to Zach and said, “Have a nice night.”
That incident ended well, but it could have been a different situation all-together. John Edmonds, the co-director of Project Legacy and the care taker of Wilson and the other boys says he spends time talking to his kids about how to handle themselves in situations with law enforcement.
“I find myself in the position, as a parent having to instruct my son about how to behave if he is stopped by a cop.” Edmonds explains, “I tell them that there are certain things they need to know in order to stay safe.” Profiling is something that Edmonds’ says he believes extends far beyond law enforcement. His boys have told him about issues in stores, in the classroom, and even in their neighborhoods.
However, many crisis situations, like the rioting in Ferguson, there are multiple sides to every story. It’s tough to think about how this kind of situation might carry weight in the political arena, but one local analyst says, it does.
Dr. Eric Shoars, a political analyst in Austin, Minn. says situations like these are often the perfect jumping off points for different approaches in a political campaign. He quotes Rob Emmanuel and says, “’a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,’ because that’s when politicians and the activists can come in and make a name for themselves.” Shoars goes on to explain that at times, when things like this happen in the U.S., the country looks to the government for answers, in hopes that it is a problem that can be fixed.