Bruce Franks is a near shoo-in for a seat in the Missouri state house, but the 32 -year-old cautions ahead of Sundays presidential debate in St Louis that electing Donald Trump would set back criminal justice reform by decades
After his nine-year-old friend was shot dead by a St Louis crack dealer, but before one of his friends was killed in a hail of police gunfire, it resulted to Bruce Franks that he didnt genuinely cry any more. So he had a teardrop tattooed under each eye to replace his own.
His facial ink stood out on the streets of Ferguson, where he carried a handwritten sign telling those who would typecast him that he was also a college-educated business owned, a spouse and a father. In suit they didnt get the message, next he is taking it to the Missouri legislature.
We can march the working day, but eventually marching is not going to change things, said Franks, the newly installed Democratic nominee for an ultra-safe seat in the country house of representatives. We can protest the working day, and protest is much needed. But its not enough.
Franks, 32, is one of a band of young protesters, blooded in Ferguson following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown two years ago, who have pushed their route into the political system of St Louis, the troubled towns closest major city, where the second US presidential debate will be held on Sunday evening.
As they try to reform the criminal justice system from the inside, however, Franks and his fellow protester-politicians are troubled by the prospect of waking up on 9 November to something that they say would jeopardize their plans and like-minded endeavors across the US.
Electing Donald Trump as chairperson would take this country back to the 1950 s, Franks said of the Republican nominee for the White House.
I I cant even find the words to describe how bad it would be for what were trying to achieve, said Rasheen Aldridge, a 22 -year-old Ferguson activist who is running to be a committeeman.
Amid a fiery national debate about race, crime and shootings by police, Trump has aggressively styled himself as the law and order candidate, pledging to further empower policemen, as his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, allies herself with the mothers of black men killed by police and declines to seek the support of the nations biggest police union.
Trump has said that a recent spike in assassinations in Chicago could be stopped in one week if the citys police department, which is currently under investigation by the US justice department over potential racial disparities in its use of force-out, simply got tougher.
He resists federal sentencing reforms that have been espoused not only by Clinton but even by some rightwing Republican who share her desire to reduce the prison population nationally and abandon draconian mandatory penalties for narcotic offenders.
He has promised to direct the Pentagon to resume supplying police with the various kinds of controversial military equipment deployed against protesters in Ferguson. Bipartisan outcry about warzone-like scenes there after the fatal police shooting of Brown in August 2014 resulted Barack Obama to block the transfer of some hardware. Clinton supported the presidents decision and was endorsed by Browns mother, Lezley McSpadden.
Trump also champions stop and frisk, the aggressive street-searching that has been disproportionately directed at black and Latino humen, as a necessary tool to reduce violence, despite outrage from Americans of color about racial profiling and a continued decline in violent crime in New York City even after a sharp curtailment in the NYPDs use of the tactic.
Clinton, meanwhile, wants new laws against racial profiling and$ 1bn for training officers to avoid racial bias. I will call for white people like myself to set ourselves in the shoes of those African American households who fear every time their children go somewhere, she has said.
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