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Ferguson

By    Thursday January 8, 2015

Selma. Little Rock. Fruitvale Station. The crossroads of Florence & Normandie. These are well known as points on a map and as points of collision where events still carry both cultural and historic resonance.  And now Ferguson, Missouri, a tiny suburb of St. Louis, is such a place. It is a modern Rorschach test in America's social fabric.

What happened there in 2014 depends on how you look at it and who you are. From your angle you might see the event in black and white or in complex shades of gray. There is certainty only in the basic facts of teenager Michael Brown’s death. There will never be a consensus about the exact nature of his collision with Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson and why it escalated to a fatal conclusion.

Much of this is caused by the conflicting accounts of eyewitnesses and, of course, because one of the two key figures cannot speak for himself. Regardless, many people who had never heard of these men, or of Ferguson, prior to August 9, 2014, had a visceral response to what happened there. The reactions must be viewed within the centuries-long continuum of racial history in the United States – most recently in the imbalances of power and the struggle for equality under the law and on the street.

After compiling my photographs from the two trips I made there last August and November, I wanted to create something I hadn't seen: a single set of pictures that shows the events in Ferguson over a wider time frame, and in printed form. In a way that would be both immediate and lasting. In addition to the pictures, I obtained a copy of the grand jury interviews and testimony and included some of that raw material in the layout.

I hope the result is something that will give a reader a chance to slow down a bit, and view the events with greater nuance than you might get from instant Internet or television coverage. Information 

California-based photojournalist David Butow has worked in over two dozen countries including Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Peru and Yemen. His news and feature coverage of subjects such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, the 2008 China earthquake and social issues in the United States have won awards from World Press Photo, Communications Arts, American Photography Annual, Photo District News and others.  He is a member of Redux Pictures and is a frequent contributor to DART.   

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