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Ferguson College Students Urged to Forgo Spring Break for Activism


Protesters on Dec. 5 in Boston.  (Photo: Tim Pierce/flickr/cc)

Protesters on Dec. 5 in Boston. (Photo: Tim Pierce/flickr/cc)

Jon Swaine |  Alternet

College students are being urged to scrap plans for beer bongs on sunny beaches, in favour of a serious-minded spring break in Ferguson, the Missouri town that was roiled by protests and unrest following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old.

Six months after the death of Michael Brown, activist leaders in the St Louis suburb are looking to sign up 250 young people for a grittier week of “community service and civic engagement” including registering new voters, running food banks and cleaning up streets.

“Maybe there were some people who had planned to go down to Miami or Acapulco, and now see that there is something bigger,” said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman for the town and a co-founder of the Ferguson alternative spring break programme.

Bynes said the week would not simply be a continuation of the protests that spread from the region in August to New York, California and elsewhere around the US. “The movement needs to be more than die-ins, more than ‘shutting it down’,” Bynes said.

Nor will it be a chance for inexpensive frat-style festivities, however. “This is not ‘come party in St Louis and take a selfie at the Mike Brown memorial’,” said Bynes. “This about giving back to the community. Should people decide not to engage, they’ll forfeit the benefits.”

Organisers said students would also help plant gardens and beautify blighted spots. “We are talking to business owners about what kind of help they need,” said Charles Wade, Bynes’s co-founder and one of the leaders of Operation Help or Hush, an activist group. “There are those that need repairs, and we want to make that happen.”


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