Heard and overheard in St. Louis

Tuesday, around 10 p.m., Atlanta, Georgia: They sit in row 40, him at the window, her at the aisle.

The two strangers introduce themselves on the plane headed from Atlanta to St. Louis Tuesday night. They're both white. She lives here. He’s visiting on business.

“Not Ferguson, I hope,” she says.

No, he tells her, he’ll be downtown.

She’s upset with what’s happening in Ferguson. The autopsy clearly shows that Michael Brown lunged at the police officer, she says. And the media are making things worse.

“What if they just stopped filming for one night?” she says. “What if no one was there? Wouldn’t people just leave?”

“Yeah,” he says. “So, what do you do?”

The plane rolls toward the runway and up, into the night. They talk about their jobs, travel and golf. They do not talk about Ferguson again.

Tuesday, around 11 p.m., St. Louis, Missouri: Kayla Young stands on the bus headed for rental cars. She’s happy to stand, she says. She has been sitting all day. Young is in her final year of school at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She’s getting her degree in criminal justice. She's filling out the paperwork for the police academy now, even though people have started questioning the young black woman about that decision lately.

When asked, Young says she thinks the media isn’t telling the story accurately. She doesn’t think the violence there would end if the media left. But they’re escalating things.

Also on the bus sits Alan (he didn’t want to give his last name). He’s in town from Colorado on business. He plans to visit Ferguson on Wednesday morning, the tall, white man tells Young as the bus rolls along. She wants to go too, but her mother told her no way. She's surprised that he's going.

He wants to see things for himself, he tells her.

As the bus rumbles toward the rental car lot, Alan holds out a map of the metro and Young shows him where Ferguson is. Out of the bus, inside the rental area, the two say goodbye.

“Vietnam was a while back,” he calls out as the doors slide open, “but things haven’t changed that much.”


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