More protests in Ferguson as police chief resigns

Image: Getty.

Protests broke out outside Ferguson's police department on Wednesday night following the news that the police chief had resigned. In the image above, a protester faces officers outside the police department and court buildings.

US new outlets are reporting that two officers were shot nearby in the early hours of Thursday morning; both have been hospitalised with injuries that are serious, but not life-threatening. 

Tensions between police and citizens in Ferguson have been running high since Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, was fatally shot by police last August. They were heightened even further by the news in November that a grand jury would not indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.

Earlier this month, the US Justice Department found that the city's police "routinely violate rights of blacks", and recommended that the department should be reformed. The police chief, Thomas Jackson, announced his resignation yesterday, but according to CNN, he will remain on full pay for  a year. Ferguson's municipal court judge has already resigned, as have two police commanders and the city's manager.

As a result of the events since August, and the debate they sparked about police's relationship with African-Americans, Ferguson is now a household name. But, as is so often the way of American cities, it isn't really a city at all: it's a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, with a population of just over 20,000 (translated into British English, that's about the size of Dorchester, which isn't very big). It was built up around a new depot in the 19th century, and now covers about six square miles in total:

Over the past quarter century, the area's demographics have shifted quite dramatically. Affording to Forbes, 25 per cent of the Ferguson population was African-American in 1990; now, the figure stands at around 67 per cent. The piece's author argues that this shift could hold some explanation for the disjunct between the city's governance structures and its citizens now: 

The reasons for the shift go all the way back to the late 19th century when the city of St. Louis separated from the county.  

The city itself experienced a major population decline (like many places across America’s Rust Belt) which involved blacks leaving the poverty-ravaged central areas of St. Louis and settling in suburbs like Ferguson. The black population increased while the white power structure remained intact.

St Louis proper, while we're here, has a population of around 320,000 (the wider metro area houses around 10 times that). The city itself is pretty evenly split between its black and white populations; the wider St Louis metro area is still three-quarters white even today. This is a pretty divided city we're talking about here.


CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

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CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is now a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission is to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

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As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our new digs. You can follow City Monitor on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

To our readers, on behalf of the City Monitor team, thank you from all of us for being such loyal CityMetric fans. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.