Ferguson residents say town mischaracterized

Ferguson is a town of 21,000 people, a suburb north of St. Louis. The shots fired 11 days ago were heard around the world.

Ferguson schools were closed for a fifth day, so 100 elementary school children went to class in the public library. Janice Bugett brought her 6-year-old daughter Jade.

"She says, 'Mommy, I'm sad,'" Bugett said. "She asked me, 'Mommy, when I go to school, will I be killed?' and that hurt my heart because a child should be a child."

Ferguson looks like an all-American suburb. The median income is $37,000. But residents tell us most neighborhoods remain segregated.

Does Ferguson's police force have a race problem?

Brian Fletcher, a former mayor here, has launched a campaign called "I Love Ferguson" to help salvage the city's tarnished image.

"This is not a Ferguson issue," Fletcher said. "This is a national issue for debate and discussion and healing."

He said people in the town get along for the most part, but "you would think that Ferguson is the hotbed of racial tension in the world from the media coverage we receive."

Cathy Jenkins helped open Cathy' Kitchen on South Florissant in downtown Ferguson a year ago and finds herself defending the town, too.

"Now people are like 'You're from Ferguson?' and it's like 'No, no Ferguson is great,'" she said.

She says there's a feeling that residents are all in it together.

"I've gotten little notes on the bottom of receipts saying 'Unity' or 'Love,' " she said. Looking around, she says she can see a big change coming. "I can tell whatever happens at the end of this, it will be a big difference in Ferguson in how the community is run."

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.