Jeffrey and Pamela Blair wanted their children to feel proud. Then they wanted all African-American children to feel proud.
The couple’s business, EyeSeeMe, is a 1,200-square foot storefront in the St. Louis suburb of University City. With shelves of bright-jacketed books and bold posters splashed across the walls it confronts–with defiance and love–the weight of history. The Blairs have curated close to 3,000 titles, ranging from Africa-themed alphabets to the lives of black inventors to hip-hop poetry. Collectively, they chronicle African-American lives, history, and culture.
EyeSeeMe says to its young customers: Do you see all these stories of achievement, of courage, of ingenuity, of fun? This is who you are.
On Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo., a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. Several witnesses described the shooting—which wasn’t captured on video—as unprovoked. In the national furor over police violence that followed, one remedy found common support across much of the political spectrum: outfitting more cops with body-mounted cameras to deter misconduct and create a record of tragic encounters. When a grand jury decided that November not to charge the officer in Ferguson, the victim’s family pushed “to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.” The White House proposed $75 million in matching funds for state and local police to buy the devices.
A few months later, in January 2015, employees of Taser International, the maker of stun guns, gathered for a sales meeting at the company’s futuristic headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. They filled the ground floor and lined the catwalks that crisscross the three-story atrium, a space where a lightsaber duel wouldn’t seem out of place. Shades blocked out the desert sun, and in the darkness, low, long trumpet sounds blared—the famous Richard Strauss theme used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The US Justice Department is suing Ferguson, Missouri to force the city to adopt police reforms negotiated with the federal government.
Unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer in the city in 2014, sparking protests.
Ferguson was required to reform its policing after investigators found widespread racial bias in the force.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said there was no option but to sue after the city voted to revise the agreement.
A captain in the Missouri highway patrol catapulted to local fame on Thursday after he and officers under his command rolled into Ferguson to take over the security for local protests.
Gov. Jay Nixon ordered Capt. Ron Johnson and the patrol to take the reins from a St. Louis County police force that had responded to protesters this week by wielding assault rifles, firing tear gas and patrolling the streets in military-style vehicles. Unrest in Ferguson began after Darren Wilson, a local police officer, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.
Photos taken during the six days of demonstrations — the most violent night was on Wednesday when police fired smoke grenades and tear gas into a crowd — of standoffs between police and citizens in Ferguson often seemed eerily similar to war zone photography.