Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, a black, unarmed man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, MO, on August 9, 2014. There were conflicting viewpoints regarding the events leading up to Brown's killing on whether he was surrendering or approaching. In November, a grand jury did not indict Wilson, based on Wilson's testimony that he feared for his safety. Both Mike Brown's death and the grand jury's decision led to protests across the country touching on racial tensions and police brutality. Police in Ferguson reacted with a militarized response, both immediately following the event and again after non-indictment, exacerbating tensions between police and the community. Darren Wilson later resigned from the police force, and in March 2015 a Department of Justice report found that he was not guilty of civil rights violations. The DOJ also released a report which found rampant racism throughout the Ferguson Police Department.
The events in Ferguson brought national attention to other incidents and to the underlying social issues. As of September 2016, protests continue and greater discussion is happening around the country regarding structural racism, violence toward people of color by police, and the nature of police tactics in general across the United States.
This guide is meant to serve as a jumping-off point for students and faculty to gain a better understanding of the events related to Mike Brown's death and the subsequent protests and unrest in Ferguson and elsewhere. It also collects resources that may be used by WMU instructors to teach Ferguson and related topics in their courses. We will try to keep this guide as up-to-date as we can.
The resources on this guide come from news, academic, editorial/opinion, and social media sources. Some materials may be provocative or disturbing. We hope readers will use these resources to facilitate thoughtful and respectful discussion.
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The resources collected on this guide represent a variety of reports, thoughts, analysis, and opinions. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Western Michigan University Libraries or Western Michigan University.