"If people knew their rights, maybe that can change things. You can only oppress a people who don't know their rights."
Lance Murray | The Free Thought Project
Amidst the infighting between Americans and polarizing coverage by the mainstream media over the justification of Michael Brown's death, there lies a story unfolding in Ferguson that is less focused on the future outcome of the undoubtedly lengthy road to justice ahead of the community, and more focused on an immediate, practical solution for the citizens of Ferguson. Among the perceived heroes and villains that have played their part in the neighborhood, a true leader is emerging. Thirty-four year old, father of three, David Whitt has taken it upon himself to step into the roll of peacemaker, communicator and innovator.
David lives about 500 feet from ground zero, where the Michael Brown and Darren Wilson confrontation began and ended. In his modest apartment, changing diapers and taking care of his family, it seems that David would be an unlikely candidate for the shoes which he has filled in his community since the watershed moment of Michael Brown's death and the events that have transpired. However, don't tell him that. David clearly states that he believes that it is his duty to take action and not stand by while his community scrambles for answers. He is providing an answer.
In a true act of fate, during the aftermath of the Brown slaying, David met a couple of activists that are helping his vision come to fruition. In his own words, David said, "God sent me two angels". Showing his true character, David invited these activists into his home where they lived with his family for the greater part of the past two weeks. Together they formed a plan to arm the citizens in David's community. Not with guns or ammunition, but with cameras. Since the group initially had the idea, a couple of weeks ago, they have collectively raised over three thousand dollars to equip the community of Ferguson with 40 plus cameras.
It all started in the moments after David witnessed the sorrow and anger felt by members of his community while Michael Brown's lifeless body laid in the street just a few steps from his own apartment. He himself felt the anger, the hate, and thirst for vengeance that anyone would have felt after witnessing the proceeding moments of a senseless murder. He then made himself step back and access his emotions. In his own words David explained his emotions to The Free Thought Project, "Everything in me wanted to retaliate in revenge. But I looked deeper, because when you get upset you can't think. You have to calm down and think about what you need to do."
Surrounded in the street by friends and neighbors stewing in their own rage, talking about taking violent action, David knew he had to be the voice of reason. He then spoke out and said, "We need to do something." The crowd responded with agreement. "We are going to form a neighborhood watch," he said, creating the perception that he had an army of people who already joined with him. His persuasive words resonated with the people and made obvious sense to them immediately. They were on board.
Before he could get started on the solution, David knew that the community needed to heal. He organized a place to grieve, starting a memorial in the middle of the street where Michael Brown's young life was taken. You can now see the memorial, still standing in the busy street, extending for about 200 feet long with innumerable flowers and other mementos placed at the site by people that have visited from all over the country. David and his friends stay close by to direct traffic to ensure that everyone is safe and can grieve in peace.
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During the unrest and peaceful protests, David was marching on a nightly basis with the citizens of his community, making his voice heard. One of these nights he found himself side by side with Jacob Crawford of www.wecopwatch.org and Alex Salazar of www.renegadepopo.com.
Jacob is a seasoned veteran and pioneer of the cop watching movement that is now catching fire across America. Alex is a former veteran LAPD officer that has seen the corruption and systemic misconduct and abuse first-hand, so he has started an online platform for recovering cops to share their stories and bring awareness to the dangers associated with the warrior cop mentality as well as exposing taboo subjects such as cops with PTSD patrolling the streets like ticking time bombs.
Together, these three men were the perfect combination.
While the country awaits a verdict in the case of Darren Wilson, and continues to speculate over who was right or wrong, David is taking the necessary measures to bring accountability to the police and citizens of Ferguson, Missouri. These steps are to assure that another senseless killing doesn't happen again, and if it does, then it will be documented and undoubtedly, justice will be served.
When The Free Though Project spoke with David he assured us that it is of the utmost importance to teach the members of his community about their rights when interacting with police. He said, "I was thinking, how can we change this thing around? I was thinking, man, if people knew their rights, maybe that can change things. You can only oppress a people who don't know their rights."
We agree wholeheartedly and we tip our hat to you, David Whitt, for being a guiding light in your grief stricken community.
Donate to David's Ferguson accountability effort: https://www.gofundme.com/Copwatching-in-Ferguson