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Ferguson Marks One Year Since The Death Of Michael Brown

The death of the unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white officer ignited protests, debate, and soul-searching over police relations with the black community.

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Hundreds gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday to mark one year since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a white police officer — a death that prompted angry protests, as well as reflection on policing in the black community.

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Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the shots that killed Michael Brown, was cleared by a grand jury of any criminal wrongdoing. A Department of Justice report also found his version of events was "credible."

On Saturday night, protesters gathered outside the local police station to air their grievances about police violence.

Rick Wilking / Reuters

The protests, however, were marred by a shooting with a 22-year-old man suffering a gunshot wound in the arm.

Police said a 17-year-old who attended the protests was arrested and charged with two counts of unlawfully using a weapon, as well as resisting arrest, after allegedly firing shots into the crowd on West Florissant Avenue.

To mark the anniversary of Brown's death, Reuters photographer Adrees Latif interviewed several Ferguson residents to hear how their lives have changed. Here's what they said:

Donald Harry, 57, home owner.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"Personally it did not affect me, but emotionally it was a major event. I felt sorry for what happened to the young man. I felt bad what my community and what the city went through. The chaos disrupted and is still causing disruption [in the community]. It was tragic."

"The community drew together and became closer. There is still a lot of work to be done between the community and city government. You can talk about change but until it is put into practice it's just words."

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Shakira Pope, 8, elementary school student.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"I do not want to live here no more because it's scary. I heard the tear gas [being fired]. My mom locked us up in our room [during the protests]."

Shandi Hall, 27.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"Seriously it hasn't [affected my life], even though my house is a block away from the police station. I heard things happening. My husband was freaking so we left for two days in November. We didn't take walks for a while. I didn't feel like my safety was threatened. The violence was aimed towards police."

"There is a bigger sense of community."

Cora Gates, 68, grandmother.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"It didn't affect my life at all. I still sit on the porch like normal. I heard the guns but I didn't do nothing so I don't have to be afraid of nobody."

Tommie Pierson, 69, pastor.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"After Michael Brown's death, our church was so close to the community, people discovered it and wanted to meet here. That affected us dramatically because people came here to hold meetings and use the church as a place of refuge. It cost us greatly but we were proud to help."

"More people are voting. More African-American citizens of the community got involved and were elected to city offices, which I hope achieves positive change. No citizen deserves to be treated like a second-class citizen no matter if you're the majority or minority."

"Chocolate," 36, activist.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"My life won't ever be the same. It has changed me to become an activist and protester. It has made me to get more involved with my community and especially with youth. When you ask a kid these days what they want to be when they grow up, their answer is 'I want to be alive.'"

"We are all still trying to heal. There are still a lot of racist cops here. We can do what we do which is stand up for justice. No one has accepted what happened out here. There is still a disconnect with the police and the community."

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Steve Hewkin, 57, mechanic.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"More than anything, I mistrust the government now because the aftermath of Michael Brown's death was politically driven. The destruction and hate was all driven by politics."

"Residents, black and white, who have a vested interest in this town, have come together. People overall have become more polite."

Bridget Guthrie, 52, pharmacy technician.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"It has been a major inconvenience because the restaurants and businesses we used to frequent were destroyed and we have to go to other communities."

"The community has become more close knit. People have become tighter as family, [to] fight the cause and prove to the media what they put on television [about Ferguson] is wrong. Despite everything that happened, I still wouldn't move because I love this community. It is a great community to live in."

Hakeem Thomas, 14, student.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"My parents made us stay home because of the shooting. Sometimes we couldn't go to school. I felt more afraid of the police because I thought they would shoot me for nothing."

"A lot of the businesses we used to go to have shut down."

Molly Rockamann, 34, organic farmer.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"It forced us to have a difficult and important conversation. It also illuminated the need to have more citizen oversight and involvement in our government, as well as the need for public officials and police officers to really get to know the communities they're governing or policing."

"Overall I think the biggest change is that our community is awake now. Not everyone agrees on the path to be taken, and some folks would probably prefer to go back to sleep, but by and large I think most of us [Ferguson residents] are wanting to show the world the positive change that can come about when citizens wake up, dig in, and get to work on some of the biggest issues and opportunities of our time."

"Lowkey," 16.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

"It made me grow up. It was devastating after Michael Brown died but I continue to see many more die. It has made me more depressed and angry at the world. It has made me grow hatred towards the law enforcement and judicial system."

"There have been multiple changes. Gangs have stopped being violent. Kids walk around more joyfully. There is a sense of peacefulness and safety because the police are more aware of their actions."

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

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