Teacher, author coach, healer and TV personality Iyanla Vanzant was on the ground in Ferguson this week and tonight her OWN special Healing Ferguson airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the network. Vanzant says she went down to the embattled city to find out what people needed in the wake of the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The teenager was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who has remained in hiding as the town was swept by two weeks of protests. Vanzant says she was there not just to tape a TV show but to help citizens plan for their future.
“I found a lot of fear and a lot of disorganization,” Vanzant told The Tom Joyner Morning Show. “I wasn’t hearing from the news that people had a plan or that they were clear about what to do next. So what I went to do is talk to the people on the ground and find out why they were looting and why they were so disorganized.”
The town of Ferguson, as everyone now knows, is a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis, which has faced systematic problems of police brutality and racial profiling. Vanzant says that being on the ground showed her the impetus for the strong emotions she saw that led to the looting and civil unrest that characterized the first few days after the shooting.
“I found a lot of anger. We’ve been here before with Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo – and even those who didn’t make the news. [The people of Ferguson] have to do something different and they understand that. If they just march and protest, nothing will change. I really wanted to hear what the people wanted. What they wanted was justice and they want this cop arrested. But that’s not going to stop the number of police stops and the whole issue of driving while back and the condition of the schools.
What are you going to do if they don’t indict him? What are you going to do if they don’t arrest him? What are you going to do if they don’t convict him. If you don’t have a plan, nothing will change. This is part of what has been a long period of systematic disrespect regarding this community.”