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Ferguson Commission's First Session Disrupted By Outburst

Ferguson Commission Co-Chair Rev. Starsky Wilson makes his opening remarks as Co-Chair Rich McClure and other commissioners listen during the commission's first meeting in Ferguson, Mo., Monday.
Bill Greenblatt
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UPI /Landov
Ferguson Commission Co-Chair Rev. Starsky Wilson makes his opening remarks as Co-Chair Rich McClure and other commissioners listen during the commission's first meeting in Ferguson, Mo., Monday.

Monday brought the first meeting of the Ferguson Commission, a group assembled by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon with the goal of bridging the St. Louis area's racial and economic divisions. But the session was disrupted by residents who were frustrated by the long wait for them to be heard.

The meeting of the 16-member panel comes one week after a grand jury decided no charges should be filed against Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, in August. The commission plans to hold months of public meetings, with a final report due next September.

"The commission's first meeting featured nearly three hours of introductions and organizational details," St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum reports for our Newscast unit. "Dell Taylor had enough and wanted definitive solutions."

An emotional Taylor told the commission, "We don't expect you all to come up with a miracle. That's why we're here. But don't waste our time with the same innuendoes and the same rhetoric. We don't want to hear it."

The interruption lasted at least half an hour, says The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which adds, "By about 4 p.m., two Missouri Highway Patrol officers stepped in through the backdoor, and watched. Several other officers waited at a side door."

Jason Rosenbaum also sent us two quotes from commission members:

Rev. Traci Blackmon: "I look forward to sitting in the discomfort that comes when we have real conversation about race."

Kevin Ahlbrand, head of the state's police union: "Without cooperation between law enforcement and the community, we aren't able to keep the people safe."

Over the weekend, after the news emerged that Wilson has resigned from the Ferguson police force, the town's mayor, James Knowles, said he wants to reshape the department to be "more reflective of the demographics of Ferguson."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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