4 Ways You Can Help Ferguson Right Now, From Funding The Public Library To Helping Protesters Get Legal Representation

By now, you'll have heard the news that rocked the country last night — in a moment that had become grimly anticipated, a St. Louis county grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. The news, punctuated by a lengthy speech by oft-scrutinized prosecutor Bob McCullough (which sounded as much like a defense statement as anything) touched off a grim scene in Ferguson Monday night. So, how can you help support Ferguson and its people?

One big way to do so, frankly, is to stay vigilant about the kinds of stories and incidents that carry the same, sad echoes of police violence, racial tension and militarization we've seen in Ferguson over the last few months. Indeed, since Brown's death, there have been no shortage of similarly tragic, affecting instances of police shootings. From the shooting of Kajieme Powell in St. Louis county, to the shootings of John Crawford and Tamir Rice in Ohio (both were killed while carrying airsoft fake guns). In short, to borrow a familiar phrase from America's civil rights history, the struggle continues.

But if you're looking for a more material means of support, and you're in good enough shape financially to whip out the checkbook, there are some worthy causes to donate some money to.

The Ferguson Public Library

While the tumult in Ferguson has proven to be the point of origin for a vitally important protest movement — a movement so vital, frankly, that some level of societal disruption is both unavoidable and justified — there's no disputing that life hasn't been normal for the people of Ferguson over the last few months. This is very true of the children of Ferguson, too, with the protests and aggressive police responses having spurred school closures throughout. Indeed, after Monday night's explosive events, schools and public services are reportedly closed down Tuesday.

But that isn't stopping the Ferguson library from opening its doors. Quite the contrary, the library tweeted that they'll be open today to accommodate any children who have the morning off, and frankly, having a peaceful, nurturing place like a library to visit right now sounds like a marvelous way for some of these kids to decompress. As the sign says above, a good library is an oasis. You can donate to the Ferguson Public Library here.

Ferguson Public School Projects

As mentioned above, there have been some school days missed as a result of the police presence and protests in Ferguson, including Tuesday. But, when kids even get to go to school, they still need resources to make their education everything it could be, which gives you a great opportunity to help — you can visit the DonorsChoose page for some Ferguson-area schools here, and contribute some money to fund individual classroom projects. DonorsChoose has been around for a while now, and it's proven to be a great tool for giving.

The Ferguson Defense Fund

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Spearheaded by hip-hop artist Talib Kweli and his colleague Donna Dragotta, the Ferguson Defense Fund was established to help pay for a variety of costs associated with the ongoing protests — for "bail, jail, and life," as Kweli tweeted.

The fund's IndieGoGo page went up in October, and since then it's netted over $54,000 for the cause, better than 200 percent of its initial funding goal. It's slated to run until Dec. 18, so if the holiday season has put you in a giving mood, you can donate to the Ferguson Defense Fund here.

The National Lawyers Guild

In addition to the citizens of Ferguson and those protesting, it's also worth bearing in mind the people who've traveled to Missouri to lend a hand — in this case, the National Lawyers Guild, who've been on-the-ground amid the protests, monitoring police activities and providing legal support and information to protesters. As outlined on their website, donations to their Ferguson efforts will help fund travel and housing for their on-the-ground legal observers, as well as identifying gear and court costs.

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