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The Way Forward In Ferguson


The search continues for the shooter who wounded two police officers who were standing guard outside the Ferguson, Mo., police department early Thursday morning. The city is still struggling to find its footing after months of protests following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. NPR's Cheryl Corley has been reporting from Ferguson this week. I asked her if the police have any leads in the shooting of those officers.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Well, they haven't revealed any new details at this point, but Jon Belmar, the head of the St. Louis County Police, says detectives are just working on this around the clock. He says they've received scores of tips and lots of cooperation. They also have a good idea of where the shots actually came from. But at this time, they don't know who is responsible. Crime Stoppers here has offered a $10,000 reward. And officials say that money is coming in, but at this point, they really don't know who is responsible. And the chief says it's just important for everyone here not to jump to conclusions.

RATH: And what's the scene like in Ferguson this weekend? Are there protests still going on?

CORLEY: There are protests still going on. Even those protesters have criticized the shooting, even while they continue their demonstrations. But they say that they're not going away. I talked to one protester, Lou Downey, outside the police station, and he says that, you know, people here and elsewhere just really can't forget the core question about what changes are needed here in Ferguson. And he doesn't want that to be lost.

LOU DOWNEY: Since the Ferguson report happened one week ago, we've seen at least three more killings of young black people - Tony Robinson in Madison, a man in Atlanta and a man by a correctional officer in New York. This continues to go on with impunity and immunity, with a green light because they never get charged or punished for it.

CORLEY: And protesters say that's one of their ultimate goals, to see, really, a lower threshold for charging officers that are involved in police-involved killings.

RATH: That Department of Justice report about the Ferguson Police Department was, of course, scathing. And as a result, the police chief will be officially stepping down next week. Another Ferguson officer will take over. Others, though, are also calling for mayor James Knowles to step down. What has the mayor's response been?

CORLEY: Well, the mayor says he needs to stay in place to help the city get through these really tough times. And he says people can recall him if they want to, and some folks are taking him up on that. There's a group called the Ferguson Five which has filed an affidavit calling for the mayor to resign. They say they'll be gathering signatures in an effort to recall the mayor. They just have 60 days to collect the signatures of 15 percent of the registered voters in the last mayoral election in order to qualify for a special election.

But really, there's still a lot of tension on the ground here. And I talked to one of the police officers guarding the police station, Lieutenant Jerry Lohr of the St. Louis County Police. And he says it's going to take time for the tension over the Mike Brown killing to ratchet down.

JERRY LOHR: This is a fresh wound. This is something that's just happened within - it's not even 12 months. The decision was in November. The Department of Justice report was released last week. Again - so it's a wound that - it's going to take time to heal. Although I think that as a community, we can come together and accomplish that.

CORLEY: And I think that's what a lot of people are hoping here.

RATH: Cheryl, are you hearing anything from activists there about their plans moving forward?

CORLEY: Well, there's going to be a big meeting today of what they call a people's movement. And folks just say they're going to continue to be out in the street to make sure that this issue remains in the news, that people pay attention to their effort. And the National Urban League is going to announce its rebuilding on the site of the convenience mart that was burned down after Mike Brown was killed last August.

RATH: NPR's Cheryl Corley in Ferguson - Cheryl, thank you.

CORLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.