Watch: Craig Allen’s 2014 photo and video tour of Ferguson Missouri
It has been one year since the name Michael Brown, and the town of Ferguson Missouri, entered the national consciousness.
With the "anniversary" this past weekend, this St. Louis suburb is back in the news, due to resumed violence.
With this in mind, I thought that I should re-post my thoughts, video, and pictures from my visit to the area, last November. I was in Missouri for my cousin Bethany's wedding.
As you look at all the boarded-up businesses, it is sad to realize that just over a week from the time that I took these pictures, and posted them here on nj1015.com, most were burned to the ground.
When the not guilty verdict was announced, it was surreal to be watching the live coverage in New Jersey...seeing businesses that I had photographed just days before...looted (again) and burned.
Here is my post from November 16, 2014:
If my "road trip" (970 miles) had taken place this past Spring, the drive between the house where I am staying (my "bachelor pad") and the plant where my Aunt and Uncle (and cousins) make bowling balls would take me through a sleepy bedroom community that no one would care about.
But, for the past few months, Ferguson Missouri, has been the center of the news universe.
From the bowling ball plant, where I am writing the story, and posting my photos and video, Ferguson is a block, or two blocks away, depending on the direction you are walking, or driving...
At the height of the looting and demonstrations, I have learned that there were days where the tear gas floated by, but work continued as always.
All I heard about, while driving cross country from New Jersey to the "Gateway City," and since I have arrived is...Ferguson.
At any moment, the grand jury could deliver its verdict as to the guilt or innocence of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
In the meantime, calm is being urged by public officials, the media, and by the family of Michael Brown.
The whole world knows what happened, so I need not go into details of the shooting.
Its aftermath is evident in the portion of Ferguson where the shooting took place.
Many stores have reopened for business in the past few weeks, but have not replaced their shattered glass windows.
Plywood storefronts are everywhere...in the affected area.
Some businesses have replaced their glass, and are hoping for the best, like above.
Some businesses, like this one (above), a mile from the "action" on New Hall Ferry Road have since boarded up, in anticipation of what may happen in the coming days.
More and more storefronts have been taking on plywood facades over the past few days.
So much plywood...and some hope, too...
To the right of the above photo:
I'm thinking there's much less hope, below...
And, even less hope, here...
The "QT" behind the cyclone fence:
Next door to the BBQ place, across a pedestrian footbridge, is the gas station that burned to the ground on national television:
To give you the view above, I'm standing on a tall concrete pylon...snapping the photo as fast as I can, then jumping down and quickly walking away. Why take a chance at being questioned...or arrested?
Yes, there is "hope" here, in front of the burned out gas station! "Ribbons Of HOPE"
As you see, for now, the plywood suppliers are doing a great deal of business.
Even if there is no more violence in the coming days, its the glass businesses that will also (eventually) reap BIG financial benefits...once a "new normal" is achieved.
The national news often states that the destruction and demonstrations are in "downtown Ferguson." "Main Street" is across town from the looted area, and the real downtown area is actually damage-free (so far).
In the above video, you will see a damage-free, vibrant downtown area...from one end to the other. The vast majority of the town of Ferguson is not covered in plywood.
It is the section of town where the shooting took place (a small square appendage of Ferguson, to the lower right on the map), where the original rioting and damage has occurred.
However, new plywood storefronts are sprouting up daily in the affected area, joining those which suffered damage weeks ago.
All eyes are on the town of Ferguson Missouri...a town immersed in racial tension and turmoil.
Sadly, there may be much more unrest, violence and damage, before the healing can really begin.
Keep this Midwest town's people, and businesses, in your prayers.
Prayers are still needed...