Commission to study Ferguson issues meets today

By Brandie Piper

Published Dec. 1, 2014 on USAToday.com.

ST. LOUIS — The commission with the task of making recommendations on how to deal with issues raised by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a white officer and the resulting violent protests will hold its first meeting Monday.

The 16-member panel convenes one week after the announcement of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the black teen’s Aug. 9 shooting death. Members will consider changes in several areas, including the way the public interacts with law enforcement, race relations, health care, business ownership, and community stability.

Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday, nearly four months after Brown’s shooting, which set off waves of unrest in Ferguson and surrounding areas. Additional protests, some of which turned violent, occurred after the grand jury’s Nov. 24 decision.

The meeting, from noon until 5 p.m. at the Ferguson Community Center, is open to the public. The comment session will begin at 3:45 p.m.

The commission members were announced by Gov. Jay Nixon and sworn-in Nov. 18.

Black local minister Starsky Wilson and white businessman Richard McClure, who chairs the St. Louis Regional Board of Teach for America, were named as co-chairs of the commission, which consists of five black men, four black women, five white men and two white women.

The commission is being asked to conduct a “thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study” of the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the sometimes violent protests, Nixon said when he promised to name the panel last month. The panel is charged with tapping into expertise needed to address those concerns and to make specific recommendations “for making the St. Louis region a stronger, fairer place for everyone to live.”

The group must produce a report with recommendations for the region by Sept. 15, 2015. Nixon said the group can also make interim recommendations before the official report.

Nixon said more than 300 people had volunteered to serve on the commission, which is expected to take up to a year to complete its work.

 

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