Since the police shooting of of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer, the small municipality has been ground zero in a national conversation about police practices, the use of force, and the disparate treatment of communities of color across the country. A scathing report recently issued from the Department of Justice detailed a variety of unconstitutional law enforcement practices in Ferguson, including its pattern of stops, racial bias, and the excessive use of court fines and fees to generate income for the city.
Montague Simmons, executive director of Organization for Black Struggle, and Jeff Ordower from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment are on the front lines in Ferguson, working to improve recruiting, training, and civilian oversight of the police; reform the municipal fine system, and boost civic participation. Simmons, Ordower, and Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, discuss their work.
- Montague Simmons is the executive director of Organization for Black Struggle, a St. Louis-based activist organization founded in 1980.
- Jeff Ordower is a founding member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, which works on climate and economic justice issues.
- Janai Nelson is the associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), a former director of LDF’s Political Participation Group, and a former NAACP LDF/Fried Frank Fellow.