Local News

Ferguson on the minds of many at Duke

Posted September 1

— Nearly a month after an unarmed 18-year-old was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., questions remain regarding the incident and how the country responds to issues stemming from it.

Some of those questions were asked during a town hall forum at Duke University on Monday.

A diverse crowd of about 300 students, faculty and community members packed the Nelson Music Room on the school’s East Campus for what organizers described as an academic event – not a rally or call to action.

Karla Holloway, a Duke English and law professor who participated in the panel discussion, said the event was born out of concern that social media conversations weren’t doing enough to facilitate good discussion and debate about the shooting.

“We wanted to make sure to give our students here at Duke the opportunity to ask more thoughtful and in-depth questions, and to even question what they're seeing on social media and what they might be participating in themselves,” said Holloway, who also helped organize the event.

Monday’s forum comes following weeks of protests and unrest in the St. Louis suburb, which included the deployment of Missouri National Guard troops to help quell the rioting, looting and violence.

Clashes between protesters and police, which included exchanges of Molotov cocktails, tear gas and smoke bombs, have resulted in multiple arrests.

Local and federal investigators are still determining whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson unlawfully shot and killed Michael Brown Jr. on Aug. 9. Witnesses claim Brown had his arms in the air when he was shot while Ferguson police said the teenager was killed during a scuffle with Wilson.

A private autopsy found that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head and four times in the right arm.

Tensions have since remained high between Ferguson’s majority black residents and nearly all-white police force.

The shooting sparked protests and rallies across the country calling for peace and improved police-community relations, including events in Durham and Raleigh.

It also sparked nationwide discussions on race relations, police body cameras – Ferguson officers recently started wearing them – and whether local police departments are becoming too militarized. Officers responding to the Ferguson protests were criticized for their militarized weapons and vehicles, which some said further fueled contention between residents and police.

In Durham, the conversation focused on police policy, race relations and the status of black men in America. The five-member panel of Duke professors represented a number of disciplines, including sociology, African-American studies, literature, black popular culture and religion.

“I was just curious to hear what the panel had to say about the Ferguson events,” said Zimife Umbh, a Duke student. “It's obviously an event that a lot of people are paying attention to and it affects a lot of students at Duke.”

Holloway, the event co-organizer, hopes Monday’s discussion will continue into the school year.

“We don't expect anything coming out of this other than more focused and interesting questions in our classrooms,” she said.

70 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • Alexia Sep 2, 1:10 p.m.

    What a waste of tax dollars to have this. These students should be in classes not in a forum

    — Posted by Jump1

    Duke is a private school. No tax dollars wasted.

  • Itsmyopinion67 Sep 2, 1:04 p.m.

    Yawn....don't be a criminal and attack police officers and you will live. Problem solved. Next please.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 2, 12:55 p.m.

    What a Liberal agenda WRAL has. Did this article talk about how this 6'4" 300 Pound man just... View More

    — Posted by virtualbiblestudy

    pretty sure his eye socket was not broken and that someone fabricated that x-ray.

    regardless, i... View More

    — Posted by sjb2k1

    What if leaving a seen of a crime and assaulting a police officer? We shall see...

  • sjb2k1 Sep 2, 12:31 p.m.

    What a Liberal agenda WRAL has. Did this article talk about how this 6'4" 300 Pound man just... View More

    — Posted by virtualbiblestudy

    pretty sure his eye socket was not broken and that someone fabricated that x-ray.

    regardless, i don't think the punishment for walking in the street should be death by 8 bullets.

  • coachkayhasmrsa Sep 2, 12:26 p.m.

    anytime you have a discussion that's based on emotions instead of facts, it's a waste of time.

  • mack24 Sep 2, 12:25 p.m.

    The media continue to keep it in our minds. Time to move on..... We need some rain!

  • NYtoNC81 Sep 2, 12:06 p.m.

    We don't have all the facts yet. But many of you have already formed an opinion about the police... View More

    — Posted by foolmeonce

    I would like to see some evidence that it was fractured. That's an equally important piece of... View More

    — Posted by A cold, hard dose of Hans

    Honestly, the only "evidence" was an X-Ray that was making the rounds on the conservative blogs and talk circuit that was actually from the a university in Iowa.

    I haven't heard anything concrete about his injuries, if there were, other than that lie.

    He may have had some. We just don't know yet. I would like to know the full story before "standing behind" the police officer or thinking the police officer over stepped his boundaries.

  • bacchianm Sep 2, 11:58 a.m.

    I've read statements that Brown was charging the officer. When will the media report what... View More

    — Posted by Deb1003

    Statements from who? Sean Hannity?

    — Posted by A cold, hard dose of Hans

    Sorry, 20 witness saw him charge the officer. You suckle up to the left wing disinformational media to get your "so called news".

  • Bullcity34 Sep 2, 11:57 a.m.

    I've read statements that Brown was charging the officer. When will the media report what... View More

    — Posted by Deb1003

    Statements from who? Sean Hannity?

    — Posted by A cold, hard dose of Hans

    Actually the video of brown in the streets has a man in the back saying that. So maybe you should do some research. Not to mention the defense has 3 other witnesses stating the same thing. ... next

  • 678devilish Sep 2, 11:55 a.m.

    Most people every where is just all talk and no action. Destroying other people's property is no way to solve problems. These people need to learn to obey the laws of the lands and police officers. The young man who lost his life was involved in criminal activity of stealing. What about that? Of course his life should not have been taken; but he should have obeyed the officers.

More...