SIU community speaks about Ferguson

By Sean Phee

Although the Rev. Joseph A. Brown is a priest with a Ph.D from Yale University, he says police still judge him as suspicious because of the color of his skin.

Brown, a Catholic priest and professor of Africana studies, said he has been stopped by Carbondale police while walking down the street on many occasions. He said people should learn their own history because ignorance leads to prejudice, which is in part why The National Society of Black Engineers held an open forum titled “The Community Speaks” on Wednesday at Grinnell.

Students discussed the events surrounding a grand jury decision to not indict former police officer Darren Wilson, in relation to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo.


Organizer Nina Moore, a senior from Chicago studying electrical engineering technology, said the event was not just about the Ferguson decision, but also the relationship between African-Americans and the police. Moore said it is vital to talk about racial issues that may make people uncomfortable to create a solution.

“We can’t sugar coat issues and brush them under the rug,” Moore said. “If we won’t talk about the nitty-gritty, we can’t create a dialogue to see real change.”

Brown said one thing that needs to change is the way black people, especially young black people, are perceived by society. He said young men may be subject to similar racial profiling.

“Young black men walking down the street in St. Louis should not have a different set of rules when they leave the house,” Brown said.

Organizer Kendall Crayton, a senior from Peoria studying mining and mineral resource engineering, said the event, co-sponsored by UniverCity360 and more than 10 Registered Student Organizations, was a success and thinks everyone learned from the different perspectives that were shared.

“People left the room with a sense of comfort and togetherness,” he said.

Sean Phee can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @seanpheeDE.