“One Ferguson” working on change from within

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FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) - There were strong words from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about Ferguson Wednesday.  He said "wholesale change" was needed in the police department. The comments came after sources told Fox 2 and CNN Tuesday, that local, state, and federal leaders were working on a plan for a major change in Ferguson. But, a group of residents calling themselves "One Ferguson" said the real change would be coming from within.

"One Ferguson" had been a quiet but growing force: 20-30 people who lived and worked there. They met again at Cork Wine Bar and Restaurant.  They just went public at this week’s Ferguson City Council meeting.  The tone of the conversation in Ferguson immediately started to change.

“It did feel good,” said Ferguson resident, John Powell, a member of “One Ferguson”.

He and about eight others stood “arm in arm” at the city council meeting a night earlier and transformed the more hostile environment that had persisted since August 9th , the day Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed 18-year old, Mike Brown.

“The power comes from the residents.  It’s not necessarily from anyone in the social structure.  It’s just from us,” Powell said.

“If our community is truly going to heal and transform, it will be up to us,” “One Ferguson” member, Adrienne Hawkins, told the city council a night earlier.

As group member after group member addressed the council even veterans of the most confrontational protests took note of the change in tone -- possibly creating a wave of change best left to the people who live in Ferguson and not protesters, not politicians, from somewhere else.

“They saw changes are being addressed, differences are being made and there is going to be One Ferguson,” said Kelli Gilyard of the group.

“We had blind spots.  We were not totally in connection with everyone in the community.  We didn’t know what was happening in another part of Ferguson.  Now we’re starting to have our eyes opened,” added Powell.

“I love the ‘One Ferguson’,” resident Gerry Jasper said the council meeting.  “I protested some, because I want truth and justice and peace.”

“I’ve never seen people come together like this black, white, brown, blue, whatever,” veteran protester Alexis Templeton, a young woman in her early 20’s, said at the meeting. “I’m really proud of you all, as a young person. It’s good to see the old generation finally step up and step up and get behind this.  I’m sorry I didn’t mean to call you all old,” she said, the crowd erupting in laughter with her.

“One Ferguson” has real initiatives with teeth:  like a civilian review board to take on grievances between police and residents and a new business district on West Florissant.  They want input and new members.