4 Inspiring Things Happening in Ferguson Right Now, Because It’s Not All Violence & Riots

There's no denying things haven't been going great in Ferguson, Missouri of late. After more than 100 days of anguished waiting, wondering, and largely peaceful protesting in spite of a heavily militarized police response, things got explosive in the St. Louis county town after the non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson was handed down Monday night. But it's worth remembering, even in moments like this, that not all is lost — there's positivity and kindness in Ferguson too, which are equal parts heartwarming and evocative, against a backdrop of perceived injustice and tumult.

Of course, by now the story is so grimly familiar that it barely needs repeating — in early August, an 18-year-old black teen named Michael Brown was fatally shot by Wilson, touching off the protest movement that's been pulsing for months since. By no means is Ferguson the only place where issues of police violence and law enforcement's treatment of black citizens have reared their head over that time, to be clear — in Ohio, the dual shootings of 21-year-old John Crawford and 12-year-old Tamir Rice have also stirred considerable unrest.

But even in times of tragedy and suffering, there are normal people finding little ways each day, and their community to make things just a bit nicer. Here are a few prime examples from Ferguson lately.

Cleaning up the Streets

And I don't mean that in the "hey, let's send some heavily armored police vehicles out there to clean up the streets" kind of way — at the same time as some outbursts of nighttime arson and looting have badly ravaged local businesses in Ferguson, there have been civic-minded residents pitching in to clean things up in the aftermath. For example, the young man pictured above, 23-year-old Terrence Williams.

As pictured above, some members of the community have also used a truck to help aid the cleanup effort. And that makes sense — while it's wrongheaded to refer to protesters as though they're grouped in with looters and arsonists, as St. Louis alderman Antonio French pointed out on Twitter recently, the city has nonetheless undergone extremely heavy damages that require a cooperative approach.

Keeping a Safe Space For Children

I touched on this subject Tuesday, in discussing various ways you could donate to help support the people of Ferguson, but it bears further mentioning here — the people of the Ferguson Public Library have stayed open, even when schools and other public services have been closed due to the ongoing unrest, with the goal of providing an inviting, safe place for the children of Ferguson. According to NBC News, the library's sole full-time employee, Scott Bonner, opted to keep the library open as a show of solidarity with the community.

I think that when there’s all these negative stories, seeing a story where a community comes together unified behind a common cause ... it makes people remember that, you know, we’re all human beings and we’re in this together.

The Ferguson Public Library's decision has paid off in more ways than one — since different outlets (Bustle included) reported about their much-appreciated decision to open their doors Tuesday, they've been flooded with donations, bringing in a "staggering" amount of donations.

Fighting Hunger in a Weary Community

One of the most challenging everyday realities for residents of lower-income cities and towns like Ferguson is where to find sustaining, nourishing sources of food. Of course, this is one of the most calamitous impacts of some of the business and property damage that's unfolded there over the past couple of nights — less options to do your shopping.

Which is why it's both practically important and heartening to see or hear people rallying support for local food banks. This is the holiday season, after all, with Thanksgiving upon s Thursday — it's the time of year when people are often asked to lend a hand to some hungry families. And as high profile as the situation in Ferguson has been, it's no surprise that people want to help the community.

After all, so much of what's transpired since Brown's death has been highly traumatic. The various pressures within the city — the recent flares of property destruction, and the antagonism and dehumanization many residents feel at the hands of the police alike — have wrought such a heavy toll that you can pretty easily imagine how important this aid is.

Spreading a Message of Injustice Worldwide

As has been disturbingly obvious lately, the story of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson isn't all that unique in and of itself — black people are far more likely to be killed by police than white people, after all. But if anything has been entirely unique about the Ferguson protests, it's the high level of visibility, even internationally, that the movement has accrued.

From Palestinians tweeting how to flush teargas out of your eyes, to jaded reports on American racism in foreign papers, to Michael Brown's family speaking before the United Nations, to the stirring image above, it's clear that the whole world is keeping its eyes on Ferguson. In short, this story and others like it are getting the attention they deserves, albeit too late to have saved Brown.