Lessons From Rochester in 2002 Could Benefit Ferguson

More protests Monday night in Ferguson, Missouri, a week after a police officer shot a young man.

Twelve years ago this summer, Rochester simmered with tension after several men died in police custody. In 2002, Bill Johnson was the mayor of Rochester, he says years of communication with the community, something Ferguson didn't have, kept Rochester from rioting. 

"So, when you have a crisis as they are experiencing now, it makes it extremely difficult not to have everybody scrambling around and trying to make the connections that you should have been making all along," said Johnson.

City Councilman Adam McFadden says the situation in Ferguson is much different compared to 2002 in Rochester. 

"We haven't really had that type of killing by a police officer in open broad daylight of a person unarmed. We haven't had that. So, I think that was the kind of tipping point there." 

Both agree that change will not happen overnight and more needs to be done to remove stigmas associated with young black men. 

"We really got to be able to identify the real culprits, and they're not all black. There are a lot of bad white people. There are a lot of bad black people. Then, we need to appreciate the young man who is trying to do the right thing," said McFadden.

That's the promise of programs like My Brother's Keeper. President Obama mentioned it Monday when talking about the demographics of cities like Ferguson. Poverty is a huge problem and so is the dropout rate among young black men.

Mayor Lovely Warren was in Washington when the president introduced the program this past February.  It's designed to help young minority men succeed.

In 2002, Rochester avoided prolonged conflict by redoubling its effort to build bridges between law enforcement and the community but the struggle to heal continues.

"There's not a program that is going to fix racial tension. There's not a program that's going to fix missed opportunity. There's not a program that's going to fix the mass mis-education of black males, meaning the under education in terms of drop out rate systematically throughout this country," said McFadden. 

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