Stranger Fruit Documentary

Attorney Defends Ferguson Market Owners as Citizens Demand Change

August 29, 2018 - 8:02 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - An attorney for the Ferguson Market is speaking out on behalf of the store's Pakistani owners, saying they're being unfairly targeted by protestors.

Attorney Jay Kanzler tells KMOX's Charlie Brennan that it apparently stems from a belief that the Ferguson Market was intricately tied to the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.

“It all comes from that stupid documentary film, Stranger Fruit, where they proffered this crazy idea that Michael Brown was buying cigarillos on layaway in exchange for marijuana, it’s a horribly stupid idea,” he says.

Since the August 9th anniversary of the fatal shooting, protestors made overtures to buy the market out and rename it in honor of Michael Brown. Protestors including State Representative Bruce Franks have been blocking entrance to the market and making demands of the owners.

“The demands were they wanted a scholarship, they wanted the store shut down for three days on the anniversary of his death, they wanted us to stop selling certain items, they wanted up to do more in the community, they wanted us to hire a black security firm,” he says.

Citizens told the Ferguson Council Tuesday night they won't stop their protests until the "Ferguson Market" on West Florissant is shut down.

"Drug activity goes on there, drug sales, sale of loose cigarettes to minors. You all know about the problem that’s going on, and you have yet to address the problem,” says one woman.

“This should not be allowed, not on this council’s watch, not on this mayor’s watch, and not on this city manager’s watch, because as long as these situations exist, you can count on us to be out there,” a man says.

The council took public comment for two hours - without Mayor James Knowles in attendance.    When he arrived at 9 pm the council chambers were filled with shouts and chants.  Some residents were demanding the Mayor apologize for recent comments made on social media.  Knowles was also confronted by Michael Brown Senior.

“You haven’t shown any respect to my family since you took this office. You said they we are outsiders and we’re protesting this store. My son was killed in your city, under your watch, you can’t boot me out. I’m going to be here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not disrespecting anything, but I’m going to stand out there until that store is over,” he says.

Amid the chaos Knowles opened the business portion of the meeting and the crowd eventually fell silent.