Ferguson protesters -- along with actress Laverne Cox, Ebola doctors and nurses, selfie queen Kim Kardashian and numerous others -- are in the running for Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The publication is inviting readers to cast their votes “for the person you think most influenced the news this year, for better or worse.” Time’s editors make the final decision in the annual media event.
Ferguson protesters have been in the news from the moment police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Amnesty International even traveled to Ferguson to monitor the protests and police response. It released a report on Oct. 24 documenting human rights abuses it witnessed there and provided recommendations to police on how better to handle protests in the future.
Fear of what might erupt when a grand jury decides whether to indict Wilson have prompted Ferguson citizens to arm themselves in recent weeks, and there are reports that gun sales have increased in advance of the grand jury announcement, which could come at any time. Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., urged Ferguson citizens on Thursday to remain calm regardless of the grand jury decision in a video that was released by STL Forward, a social justice organization made up of St. Louis volunteers.
"My family and I are hurting," he said. "Our whole region is hurting. I thank you for lifting your voices to interracial profiling and police intimidation. But hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."
Votes for Time’s Person of the Year must be cast before midnight, Dec. 6, and on Dec. 8 the person chosen by readers will be announced. Time will announce its Person of the Year Dec. 10.
The Person of the Year in 2013 was Pope Francis.