Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ferguson, 5 Years On: What's Changed Since Michael Brown's Death

In this July 25, 2019, photo, flowers and other items lay near a memorial plaque in the sidewalk near the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer five years ago in Ferguson, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
In this July 25, 2019, photo, flowers and other items lay near a memorial plaque in the sidewalk near the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer five years ago in Ferguson, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Five years after Ferguson, the national conversation about race and policing is still ongoing – and residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are still searching for answers.


Fran Griffin, represents Ward 3 on Ferguson City Council, the ward in which Michael Brown was killed. Member of the Ferguson Collaborative. President of the Southeast Ferguson Community Association.

Wesley Bell, prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County. He previously served on the Ferguson City Council. (@Bell4STL)

Jeff Pegues, justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News. He reported on changes in policing nationwide in the aftermath of Ferguson. Author of “Black and Blue: Inside the Divide between the Police and Black America.” (@jeffpeguescbs)

From The Reading List

New York Times: “Five Years After Michael Brown’s Death, His Father Wants a New Investigation” — “Five years to the day after the death of Michael Brown Jr., who was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer, Michael Brown Sr. called Friday for a new investigation of his son’s death.

“Mr. Brown Sr. asked the prosecuting attorney to reopen the case at a news conference on Friday morning. Both state and federal prosecutors declined to charge Darren Wilson, the police officer, who resigned after the shooting.

“‘As a father, I vowed to protect my children,’ the elder Mr. Brown said. ‘I could not protect him that day and it breaks my heart.’

“‘We’re not stopping until we get justice,’ he added.

“The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. — one of roughly 1,000 people killed by the police each year — set into motion profound changes in policing, race relations and society that continue to reverberate.”

Associated Press: “Ferguson: 5 years later, racial tension lingers nationally” — “Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a white Missouri police officer stands as a seismic moment in American race relations. The fledgling Black Lives Matter movement found its voice, police departments fell under intense scrutiny, progressive prosecutors were elected and court policies revised.

“Yet five years after the black 18-year-old was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on a steamy August day, racial tension remains palpable and may be even more intense. From the march on Charlottesville to President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking congressional Democrats of color and Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling at NFL games, the country often seems more divided than ever.

“Ferguson ‘drew attention to the practices of police violence and a lot of the stereotypes and viewpoints that people had about black Americans,’ said Adia Harvey Wingfield, a Washington University sociologist and expert on race relations. ‘I wish I could be a little more optimistic about its overall implications, but I am not sure yet that there is too much reason for optimism. I think that we’re in a place where we kind of see some progress coupled with some steps backward.’

“The suburban St. Louis community has changed, though to some, not fast enough. The government for the city of 21,000 is now more reflective of its populace, which is two-thirds black. Four of the six City Council members are black, compared with just one in 2014. The police force that was overwhelmingly white in 2014 is now far more diverse.

“The town has seen sweeping changes in the way the Police Department and municipal court operate. An ongoing agreement with the Justice Department requires even more reforms, and the monitor overseeing the agreement wants the pace to accelerate.”

Washington Post: “Dorian Johnson, witness to the Ferguson shooting, sticks by his story” — “Michael Brown was still lying dead in the street when his family gathered in the kitchen of a nearby apartment to hear from Dorian Johnson, the friend who saw what happened.

“Through thick tears, Johnson recounted how he and Brown, 18, had encountered Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and how Wilson had pumped half a dozen bullets into Brown’s body. When Johnson finished, Brown’s family had one request: Tell the media.

“And so, minutes later, a trembling Johnson was staring into a local TV news camera, uttering the words that would change both the nation and his life.

“‘He put his hands in the air,’ Johnson said of Brown in his final moments. ‘He started to get down, but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn. And he fired several more shots. And my friend died.’ ”

CBS News: “Five years after Ferguson, Michael Brown’s father wants case reopened” — “Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. An unarmed black teenager, he was shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson, who said Brown attacked him. A grand jury later chose not to indict Wilson.

“Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., tells CBS News’ Jeff Pegues he wants the case re-opened.

“Brown told Pegues he’s not as angry as he once was, but it’s going to be hard to revisit that moment five years ago today when he found out his son was gone.

“When asked what he recalls most vividly from that day, Brown said, ‘The phone call his grandmother gave me. Called me and said that police just shot Mike and he’s laying in the middle of the street.

“‘I turned to my wife and I told her that police just killed my son. And from there it just was all moving real slow.’ ”

Grace Tatter produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit