Monday, January 19, 2015

In Ferguson, Push for Criminal Justice Reform Draws Comparisons to ’60s Fight for Civil Rights

FERGUSON, Mo. — During the unrest here that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer, Wellspring United Methodist Church positioned itself as a haven for demonstrators seeking refuge from the chaos on the streets.
“We sent coffee to the police and poured milk in people’s eyes when they got tear gassed,” said F. Willis Johnson Jr., the church’s pastor.
Nine of the 46 members of the Congressional Black Caucus joined the Wellspring congregation Sunday with music, dance and prayers recalling those weeks of protests and drawing parallels between the events sparked by the shooting last August and those that helped shape the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, said she saw similarities between the civil rights movement led by Dr. King in the 1960s and the criminal justice debate by a new generation of activists that has ignited demonstrations in St. Louis and across the country.

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