Ferguson Support

photo courtesy of Scott Smith

A Message from the Dean

The events of Aug. 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri brought a national spotlight to the St. Louis region and many members of the SLU LAW community have stepped up, participating in the frontlines of this crisis and taking a role as advocates to help educate and bring our city together.

In the month since the death of Michael Brown, I have seen our Jesuit mission in action at the School of Law and have been heartened to see our community come together to help work toward solutions in Ferguson, but I am not surprised. The pursuit of justice for those unable to seek it on their own is woven into our fiber. We teach the basics of legal process and critical analysis essential to effective lawyering.

We feel it is within the mission of our law school and Saint Louis University to educate another generation of lawyers committed to social justice, to being men and women in service to others. As our region begins the process of healing and reform in the wake of Ferguson, I am confident the public at large will come to better know our mission. Below are examples of it in action.

Best wishes,

Michael A. Wolff
Dean and Professor of Law

What is SLU LAW doing?

  • The SLU LAW Legal Clinics continue to offer legal assistance to those in need, including people with legal problems related to the situation in Ferguson.

  • Professors from the SLU LAW Legal Clinics sent a letter to the Mayor of Ferguson requesting he grant amnesty to non-violent offenders in Ferguson.

  • Dean Wolff and professors from the SLU LAW Legal Clinics signed a letter to the Missouri Supreme Court rules committee requesting an amendment that would require municipal courts to take an offender's income into consideration before imposing fines or incarceration. *The Ferguson City Council recently announced proposed reforms to its municipal courts*

  • Several SLU LAW professors joined other members of the St. Louis advocacy community in signing a statement of solidarity and support on the events in Ferguson.

  • Assistant Professor Justin Hansford is taking a leadership role in a variety of efforts. He met with a White House official to discuss the Ferguson events and future plans for community healing. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Young Citizen's Council of Saint Louis; helping the U.S. Human Rights Network prepare a report to the United Nations; and collaborating with the Advancement Project, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Lawyer's Guild and other national legal groups with associated legal efforts. He also participated in the "Black Lives Matters" panel as part of the National Call to Action.

  • The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) is serving as legal observers during the protests in Ferguson. Members were trained by the National Lawyers Guild.

  • Several SLU LAW professors have worked with the media to help educate the public about the various legal topics tied to the ongoing situation in Ferguson.

  • Members of the SLU LAW faculty and staff have been holding weekly discussions to brainstorm ideas for how the law school can get involved in the situation.

  • SLU LAW students have spent weekends in Ferguson helping educate people about their legal rights. The group, SLU Knows Law put on a legal rights education presentation.

  • On Aug. 27, BLSA, Students for Urban Development and Sustainability (SUDS) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Outreach held a discussion panel facilitated by SLU LAW professors Roger Goldman, Justin Hansford, Sue McGraugh, Brendan Roediger, Pete Salsich and Anders Walker, along with student Ashley Moore. "Concern, Understanding and Action: Exploring the Social Legal Implications of the Recent Events in Ferguson" brought a crowd of students, faculty, staff and media together to listen and ask questions of differing legal issues involved in the situation.

  • A coalition of SLU LAW organizations met during the week of Sept. 2 to form the Community Legal Education Project, a group designed to provide the greater St. Louis community with the information they need to successfully access the justice system. Student representatives from BLSA, the Criminal Defense Clinic and SUDS discussed organization goals and mapped out a strategy to best meet the needs of the community. They hope the CLE Project will be an ongoing legal education program to meet the articulated needs of the residents of Ferguson and area communities.

  • On Friday, Sept. 5, organizers and activists from various Chicago community organizations met with SLU LAW professors and students to discuss best practices in conducting community legal education and assisting citizens with Know Your Rights campaigns. The activists supplied SLU LAW with materials and training helpful to developing educational programs for residents of the St. Louis community.

  • On Saturday, Sept. 6, SLU LAW students, along with Professors Justin Hansford, Lisa Taylor and Sue McGraugh, Legal Clinics Social Worker Lauren Choate, Scott Hall Security Officer Sidney Pugh and Student Services Associate Joyce Brown spent the day in Ferguson to survey residents about their legal needs and to promote the upcoming educational series. Their efforts were featured on KMOV-TV (Ch. 4) and the St. Louis American. The group will attend the Urban League job fair on Sept. 13 at Florissant Valley Community College to further survey community members about their need for community legal education.

  • On Monday, Sept. 8, members of the protest organization Lost Voices visited SLU LAW to meet with Professors Dana Malkus, Brendan Roediger and Sue McGraugh and Legal Clinics students to discuss the legal rights and responsibilities of protestors in Ferguson.

  • 3L Erica Mazzotti, a senior legal intern in the Litigation Clinic, spoke at the Ferguson City Council meeting on Sept. 9 to advocate for amnesty.

  • The SLU LAW Legal Clinics is also serving as a drop off location for donations to Lost Voices, a group of dedicated and passionate young adults in Ferguson who have been sleeping outside every night since the shooting. Professors are in the process of helping them get a structure in place for fundraising to support their cause.

How can I help?

  • Donate Money

    • The United Way of Greater St. Louis set up a Ferguson Fund "to support a coordinated approach around community building, mental health needs, basic needs and long-term strategies."

    • The St. Louis Regional Business Council has established the Reinvest North County Fund to help Ferguson businesses recover.

    • The St. Louis Area Foodbank is collecting donations through their Feed Ferguson campaign.

    • Give to Responder Rescue, an organization that provides assistance for local police, fire and rescue personnel and their families in times of need. 

  • Donate Time

    • The United Way of Greater St. Louis has set up an e-mail form that people can use to sign up for updates on how to help, including resources, strategies and future volunteer opportunities.

    • Get involved with the local efforts of Amnesty International. You can contact 1L Emily Beck at ebeck4@slu.edu or check out its Google site or Facebook group for more information.

Do you need help?

The situation in Ferguson has affected people all across the St. Louis region in different ways. We encourage students to contact the University Counseling Center if they are in need of counseling. SLU LAW's campus minister, Father John Vowells, is also available for pastoral counsel. His office hours are posted on his office door in room 742. Father Vowells's services are available to everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.

What are we missing?

Do you have a recommendation of a way people in the SLU LAW community can get involved? Let us know how by emailing lawcommunications@slu.edu and we'll update this page with your suggestions.

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