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Host Whitney Youth Magnet School Hall On The Consequences Of Ferguson

Chicago (WLS) -- Wednesday, a grand jury did not indict a New York city police officer in Eric suffocating death Garner, an unarmed black.

In the case of Garner, plus Ferguson in the grand jury decision sparked a discussion, in many areas of the school to young African Americans would be able to move forward, and they have learned.

On Wednesday night, Whitney Young High School hosted a town hall meeting, called "Moving Forward from Ferguson". It was an evening of frank discussion on deep-rooted issues of race.

"We have been here 400 years. 400 years! We didn't just come here, and we still fighting for freedom," said Cedric McCay, a youth development professional.

The town hall meeting was led by a panel of African-American leaders from business, academia, the church and law enforcement.

"There are definitely police officers out there that have no business being the police, but they are not the majority," said Chief Mitchell Davis, Robbins Police Dept.

In the audience, young people and their parents are still grappling with the Ferguson fallout.

"How do you have the conversation with your 14-year-old about how to deal with the police?" asked a parent in the audience.

"Even as a corporate guy, I simply put my hands up and ask, 'Can I reach for ID?'" said Jason Campbell, CEO, Brand B Sports.

"If I was sitting there and trying to say, "Hey man, you're not supposed to do that. Show me your badge number', I might not be here today," said Jason Thomas, a panelist.

"Why should I have to limit myself to closing my mouth, acting as if I'm still in slavery?" asked a student in the audience.

"It doesn't mean I'm a weak man, or I'm letting the white man walk all over me or nothing like that. It's being smart," said Shay Allen, an attorney.

Perhaps the most pointed discussion was whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified in using deadly force.

"I don't know all the facts, but from a legal standpoint, that gray area, it's possible that he could have been justified by the law," said Chief Davis.

"If the young man was unarmed, there's no reason to shoot him," said Allen.

"I know that all police aren't bad. I understand that, and I respect that, but it's just the fact that it's so frequently happening that it's just a little alarming," said Keith Ferguson, a Jones College Prep Student.

Following the meeting, there was talk of future forums led by those young people in the audience.

Chicago teens discuss lessons learned from Ferguson
Whitney Young students discuss Ferguson lessons

In Alayna Washington's ethnic studies class, she sees many life lessons for her students from Ferguson, especially because she hears about some being profiled by police locally.

"A sad reality is you have a discomfort and a distrust level that I think is something with proper education and discussion we can fix," Washington said.

There was abundant discussion about what Ferguson was, and is, about.

"Make sure you that you really know what you're talking about and what you're getting into before you try and make assumptions," said Emily Beckert.

"If you want to spark change with something in the police force, become a police officer. If you want to see education improve, become an educator," said Kaylynn Harris.

"We are going to be the next cause of what brings change, so I think it's important that we be aware of these topics," said Diana Villalobos.

Some students at Whitney Young belong to the Kappa Leadership Institute, an organization to help African American boys prepare for college. The institute is sponsoring Wednesday night's town hall. Adults may dominate the discussion, but these young men have plenty to say about race relations and relationships with police.

"If the police officers are allowed to get away with killing people of color, especially males, I don't feel like we're safe out here," said Zion Richardson.

Freshman Evan Wimberly says he was stopped last year by police.

"I was a little scared, because I don't know what was going on," said Wimberly.

Even before Ferguson, these students say their parents and mentors have prepared them that although they may see police officers as individuals, they may not be seen in the same light.

"Police is already intimidated of us black males I guess, in a way, so no sudden movements and always show my hands," said Lamont Wallace II.

"Some of us, we are working toward college and stuff like that. I don't think we should be judged by one perception," said Hannon

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