Women’s Group Has Better Idea for Ferguson

     As the year anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting approaches, join Courthouse News in this three-part series looking at how the protests have affected Ferguson.
FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) – Wednesday afternoon, four days before the first anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting, women formed a prayer circle in front of the Ferguson Municipal Court building.
     For some of them, the pilgrimage to the St. Louis suburb is personal. These women – from Baltimore, Cincinnati and Charleston, S.C. – have seen the turmoil that began in Ferguson repeated in their own cities.
     “We know that, tragically, throughout the United States in many cities there has been some police officers who have done brutality. Not all police officers, and we pray for their protection too, but unfortunately, unarmed people of color are being killed for very small reasons,” Baltimore resident Pat Wieczynski told Courthouse News.
     The women belong to the Sisters for Christian Community, who came to St. Louis for their international assembly. They came from Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, New Mexico, Wisconsin and as far away as India.
     They prayed at the municipal court, a symbol of the corruption described in the Justice Department’s investigation of Ferguson after the Brown shooting.
     The group then moved east to Canfield Drive, where a permanent memorial to Brown has been poured in the sidewalk, where the 18-year-old was killed on Aug. 9, 2014.
     The group prayed at the memorial for the nearly two dozen black men across the country who have been killed by police in the past year.
     They prayed for the police officers who were gunned down as they did their jobs.
     “It upsets me and it makes me very sad because I have also police in my family,” said Rachel Richards of Cincinnati. “I’m concerned about my nephews (who are black) and I try to make them aware if they are caught just to keep their attitudes in check, just to be aware and don’t fight it.”
     For these women, Ferguson is not just a fight against oppression – it is a spiritual battle.
     “Those that march make a change in policy, but also there are those of us who are prayer warriors,” said Patsy Guyton of Mobile, Ala. “So I’m calling on prayer warriors to fight against the spiritual hatred and racism. God has given us the weaponry of our warfare, and that is to fight the spirit of evil with the spirit of God.”
     The women believe that some good can come from these tragedies, if communities come together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Wieczynski mentioned a bishop in Baltimore who walked through the neighborhoods where Freddie Gray was killed and wondered why the recreation centers and schools were closed.
     “These are places where our youth need to be, rather than on the street getting into problems,” Wieczynski said. “So they’re working to reopen the recreation centers with good staff and to also have places where our youth can go and hear about good values.”
     The prayer group included an Indian, whites, blacks and Hispanics. They said their diversity reflects their mission.
     “What is the larger issue is not around the police tension with people,” said Patti Douglas, of Myrtle Beach, S.C. “It is around the misunderstanding of race in the United States and our desire to have people educated about race and about how we are actually the same. Our logo is that all may be one and so that is our prayer.”
     Click the hyperlinked text to go to the other stories in this series, After a Tough Year, Ferguson, Mo., Awaits Anniversary Protests and Mayor Says Ferguson Isn’t the Only Problem.

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