According to U.S. Justice Department data, in 2013, 21,135 citizens lived in Ferguson, Missouri. Sixty-seven percent of Ferguson’s citizens are African American. This DOJ report also revealed that in 2013, 32,975 arrest warrants were issued for nonviolent crimes and the majority of the warrants were given to African-American and/or poor people living in Ferguson for traffic violations. Therefore, the Ferguson Police Department’s arrest warrant tally actually exceeded the number of Ferguson residents. The DOJ said that Ferguson had a “constitutionally deficient court system.” Legal experts confirmed that this system of questionable traffic tickets and arrest warrants created a revenue stream for the town of Ferguson. These unethical actions conducted by the Ferguson Police Department have been revealed since the shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, on Aug. 9, 2014, by Darien Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer.
It has been said that the shooting death of Michael Brown reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that began when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Neither Zimmerman nor Wilson was charged with murder.
The Black Lives Matter movement has stirred a call for justice in the community and the church. Rev. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, Ph.D., assistant professor of Theological Field Education and New Testament at the Chicago Theological Seminary, an ordained minister, academic and mother, has answered that clarion call for justice. She participated in the Black Scholars National Gathering: Lessons from Black Lives event that was organized by the Rev. Pamela Lightsey, Ph.D., associate dean and clinical assistant faculty at the Boston School of Theology. Buckhanon Crowder shares her experience in Ferguson with the UrbanFaith podcast community. She emphasized that protesters are making it clear that “this is not your Mama’s civil rights movement.”