Alderman French Opens HealSTL Office in Ferguson
Many people have followed or just read Antonio French on twitter during the demonstrations in Ferguson. Mr. French is an alderman in the City of St. Louis, a people’s journalist (he had the paper and then blog, PubDef) and an long-time activist in the St. Louis area. When Michael Brown was murdered in a police crime, and the streets erupted in Ferguson, Mr. French traveled the few miles from North St. Louis where he lives to report and help out in Ferguson. He was arrested early on (on August 19) for reporting while black:
FERGUSON, Mo. — St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who was arrested late Wednesday while documenting the protests and police presence in Ferguson, was released early Thursday.
After his release shortly after 7 a.m., French told reporters he had been arrested for unlawful assembly, but hadn’t been given any documents about the arrest. He didn’t have to post any bond.
French said he had gone into his car to escape the smoke bombs and tear gas being thrown by police.
“I realized that the best place is in your car with the windows rolled up, to keep the tear gas out, and that was where I was.”
While in his car, police approached him, dragged him out of the car and arrested him.
USA Today: Antonio French freed after arrest in Ferguson, Mo.
French moved from reporting to peacemaking and organizing during the protests. Realizing that there is a lacuna of
leadership in Ferguson, he has stepped up to help organize Ferguson’s future leaders.
Last week, he and others started the Heal STL movement.
Despite brutal heat on Saturday, West Florissant was more active than it has been in several days. The atmosphere was positive, as many people were there to take part in the Heal STL movement.
Organizers and participants of the movement made signs and marched along the roadway.They also helped people register to vote.
Among city leaders participating in the effort, was St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed.
FERGUSON, Mo. – They have plans for change, and now have a building to house those efforts.
This week, St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French will open the doors to #HealSTL, adding a physical location to his work in Ferguson, Missouri.
Located just off West Florissant, French says this building will serve as a place to coordinate political change in that community.
“This is where volunteers will be able to come, where we’ll be organized in planning out next steps,” French said. “And we’re here for the long-haul. It’s not just a couple of weeks or a day, we’re here for the next few months, if not year.”
French ventured outside his official ward during the Ferguson unrest, and gained national recognition for his live tweets during that time. Now, he’s looking to the future.
“It’s really about next steps, after the events of the last two weeks,” he said. “Our first part of our next steps is to register everyone out here to vote in Ferguson and to get them educated and mobilized to get political change out here.”
French said the building he found sat vacant for a period of time, even before the unrest in Ferguson. Without giving specifics, he said he and some “supporters” paid for the property, which currently houses a few boxes and hand-drawn signs.
Volunteers planning to use the space come from all over the country.
“We have a lot of folks who want to help and want to do something, and so our role is to help coordinate that, organize it, and to use all this energy we’ve seen these last few weeks and put in a productive way, and a way that we actually create some change.”
He hopes to have #HealSTL open and running by this weekend.
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