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In Ferguson, residents seek dialogue, change ahead of planned protests




Demonstrators protest the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown across the street from the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., Friday night. More than a week of unrest has largely given way to peaceful protests recently.
Demonstrators protest the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown across the street from the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., Friday night. More than a week of unrest has largely given way to peaceful protests recently.
Adrees Latif/Reuters/Landov

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A fatal shooting involving an off-duty police officer and a black teenager in St. Louis, Missouri, prompted renewed protests in the area on Wednesday night.

The incident has rattled a community still shaken by the August shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in the nearby community of Ferguson.

To mark the two months that have passed since Brown's death, there are marches and other events planned in Ferguson this weekend.

"We're going to make sure that the police is held up to a standard," said David Whitt, a resident of Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson. "And if they break the rules, we're going to make sure that we get the information to the proper people."

Whitt has helped launch a program after Brown's death to equip local residents with body cameras to monitor police interactions. So far, the group, called Canfield Watchmen, has given out some 150 body cameras to local residents and trained them on what their rights are, he said.

That's something that Paul Roesler, a professor of political science at St. Charles Community College, said could go a long way to improving relations.

"There are some positive things happening, and I think the cameras are also positive," said Roesler. "That is really going to be a way to make a difference, so that we all know what's going on."

Roesler hosted a panel on his college campus Wednesday to address the issues raised by the shooting of Brown and the police response to the protests that followed.

"I definitely feel that these kinds of talks are helpful, [it] brings the awareness level to another stage," said Whitt. "It's our mission, as well, to try to engage in conversations about this angst and where it's coming from and why it exists."

Residents are watching the ongoing investigation into Brown's death closely, said Whitt. The Jury is still deciding whether or not to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson.