FERGUSON, Mo. (PIX11)-- For LaKeisha Ellis, the mid-street memorial for Michael Brown is at once a reminder of this community’s fractured relationship with law enforcement and the constant worry she says is involved in raising a young black boy here in Ferguson.
“I have a 12-year-old, and it could have happened to him,” said Ellis.
Classes are still cancelled as a result of the chaos and general unrest which as erupted on these street, night after night.
Dozens of heavily body armored and armed police officers stood by, until bottles, launched into the air by someone in the crowd forced the police into action.
For State Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson - who calls this area home, it was disappointing to see what began as a peaceful co-existence *devolve* into yet another tense confrontation involving tear gas - and arrests.
Asked if this was emotional for him, Captain Johnson responded, “It is. It is. Because you have a lot of people saying their rights are being violated.”
For New Yorkers watching all of this unfold on their television screens - living in one of the most diverse cities in the world - this kind of pervasive, citywide racial tension might seem foreign.
But a young Ferguson native - it’s a way of life.
“Since you’re from New York, you don’t understand that where this actually happen. This is one of the spots that we’re trying to rebuild as a community.”
Ferguson’s sour state of police community relations is part of the national conversation on the deadly use of force.
“The police don’t know who they’re dealing with. They see a black male. And they have no idea of the makeup of that male. Because we’re not all criminals. We’re not all drug dealers. We don’t all rob and steal and kill,” said Ellis.
Meantime, LaKeisha Ellis is treasuring every moment she has with her own 12-year-old son.
In our reporting here, we’ve found she shares the sentiment of many other Black Ferguson residents; unless the dynamic improves between local patrol officers and the communities they serve - she believes young black men are simply not safe on these streets.
"Its sad. It’s sad. You know, I’m really fearful for my son to come out into this world. I got six years with him and that's it,” said Ellis.