Readers of my blog may remember that my family moved to Rolla, Missouri 3 years ago, in June of 2011 due to my husband finding a new job here after a 16 month lay-off. We moved to Rolla from Florissant, Missouri, where we had lived for 19 years. Florissant is the largest suburb of North St. Louis County, 25 minutes north of the Gateway Arch, is what I usually told our relatives.
Sunday night after we got home from a Family Night at Splashzone, hosted by our church, Greentree Christian, I turned on the news to catch the weather report for Monday and I learned that Ferguson, Missouri, the suburb just to the south of Florissant, was having riots! People were looting stores along West Florissant Ave.- a major thoroughfare that connects these two suburbs. My husband and I were in utter shock at the scenes that were being shown on the tv. We learned that a QT(QuikTrip for you non-Missourians, is the most awesome gas station/convenience store ever known to man) was looted and set on fire and that when I awoke on Monday I learned that it had burned to the ground! Thankfully, the employees saw the looters coming and were able to hide in a back room and then escape; they first put on spare jackets they found in that back room to hide the fact that they were wearing QT shirts, and then they got out and ran to safety as the building was being set on fire!
Why all of this mayhem, violence, and destruction? It stemmed from the death of a black teenager, 18 year old Michael Brown, who lived in the neighboring suburb of Normandy, Missouri, who was shot by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday, August 9th, at 2:15 pm. There are conflicting accounts as to what exactly happened and St. Louis County Police have been called in to conduct the investigation for the Ferguson Police Department. I also heard today a report that the FBI has also been called in and that the US Justice Department will be keeping a watch on the investigation’s outcome.
A tragedy playing out in Ferguson, Missouri. A community of 21,000, mostly middle-class Americans who work hard, want their children to be educated, for their children to grow up and reach their potential in life. A community that was started in 1894 by a Mr. William B. Ferguson, as a train station for the Wabash Railroad. In 1904, a streetcar line was installed that led from Ferguson to the city of St. Louis and this helped the train station town expand, becoming one of the first suburbs in St. Louis County. A usually peaceful community, known for a really nice Farmer’s Market, some great parks, Victorian houses, and now known for utter violence and chaos.
I got onto facebook last night and the posts from friends who live in Ferguson were sad and scary. Many had a sleepless night. Merely one or two or three blocks from West Florissant Ave., where the looters were doing their evil deeds, are many neighborhoods, inhabited by innocent citizens who could hear the looters, the gunshots being fired, and then the police sirens and the helicopters flying overheard, shining lights into their backyards. Florissant friends were on facebook offering to let friends in Ferguson, if they felt it was safe to even leave their homes, to come and stay with them overnight. Friends in St. Charles County, where the Missouri River meets the mighty Mississippi, were offering their homes,too, as havens from the violence and danger.
With the dawn of Monday morning, the damaged buildings were like an open wound in the community; broken glass lying in the stores, and across their thresholds, goods ransacked and gone, the QT smoldering, even the WalMart that I used to shop at was looted, probably only an 8 minute drive from our first home in Florissant!
I feel very sad and disheartened by all of what has transpired these past 2 days. Someone posted on facebook a passage from the bible, 2Timothy 3: 1-5: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” I read that passage and thought it an apt description of those that decided to take advantage of what was meant to be a peaceful vigil on Sunday night, in honor of Michael Brown and turn it into the worst possible thing: to turn it into a night of violence, selfishness, and destruction. Even Michael Brown’s family issued a statement pleading with the looters to stop and go home, but that plea fell on deaf ears.
Tonight, a meeting was held in Ferguson with religious leaders in the community, the local NAACP chapter, and concerned citizens. I didn’t watch the meeting as it wasn’t aired live to Rolla area tv stations as it was to those in St. Louis area proper, so I will have to tune in to the news tonight for reactions to the meeting. I did learn that the Galleria, an upscale St. Louis Mall shut down early tonight due to fights breaking out there!
Please pray for Ferguson, Missouri not just for today but for the days to come. Pray for the family of slain teenager, Michael Brown, that they will be able to get the answers that they are seeking about their son’s tragic death. Pray for the Ferguson police officer who shot Michael. Pray for the mayor, city council, religious leaders, civil rights leaders. Pray for the law enforcement employees from all over the St. Louis region who have been called in for back up to help Ferguson’s police department. For all of these groups, pray for wisdom, discernment,protection, a spirit of community to grow again, for there to be brotherly love again, and forgiveness, and for peace for Ferguson, Missouri. Thank you.