I first arrived in Ferguson, Missouri the morning of Wednesday, August 20, on what proved to be the first day of relative calm after over a week of violence in the St. Louis suburb.

The divisions and identities defined by the national coverage—police versus the
community
, locals versus outside agitators—became a lot less clear from a distance of a few feet.

The following portraits of people on the street in Ferguson present them in their own words.

Leona Jones, from Jennings, MO.

"I got tired of all the young people blaming all the police. They blame all the police for the one incident--all of them don't do this. You can't get peace out of chaos." 

Justin Treadwell, from St. Louis, MO.

"I just want the truth to come out, you know? We don't have all the facts." 

Jeramy Butler, from St. Louis County, MO.

"Mike Brown graduated from the same High School as me, so this really hit home. This is happening far too often in this community." 

L.A. Brooks and Corey Hill, from St. Louis, MO.

"I lived in Ferguson three years ago. I'm just coming back and checking on my city." 

Roxanne Evans, from Ferguson, MO.

"It's been hectic. They started shutting it down...barricading our streets. I'm sad about all my stores. These are my stores." 

Meldon Moffit and Highway Patrol Sgt. Hoehn 

"I want everyone to know, the State Troopers have been more than fair with us. These people got respect for us, man." Meldon Moffit, far left, from Ferguson, MO. "You and I are fixing it right here." Sgt. Hoehn, right, of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Lee Todorovich, from St. Louis, MO.

"Something terrible happened here. People are upset. You don't comfort somebody by pointing a gun at them." 

Jessica Scates, from Overland, MO.

"This is a thing that's been going on in our communities. It happens to one of us, it happens to all of us." 

Ladonna Smith and Dennis Douglas, from Ferguson, MO. 

"We were here the first night. It's thrown everybody off. It's changed everybody's life. We didn't want the nation to see us like this. It was bad, but it needs to happen--until this all ends, we need to be out here."

Eddie Littleton, from Ferguson, MO.

"I've been keeping the peace. I grew up with Michael Brown Sr. I knew him, and he knew me, from the community. We've all done something in our past--we just want to see justice served in the right manner." 

Zakiya Wright and Manneisha Wallace, from Ferguson, MO. 

"I saw Mike Brown dead on the ground. I'm pissed off. I'm mad about it. I want to be heard. I still got a tear-gas stain on my shirt." Zakiya Wright, left, of Ferguson, MO. "No matter how small it get, there gonna be people here every day." Manneisha Wallace, right, of Ferguson, MO.

Joe Johnson and Monte Lacey, from Florrisant, MO. 

"We had some people, 'What you out here for?' --'To make history.' You should be trying to fix history. Why tear down all the stores you have to go to when this is all over?" Joe Johnson, right, Florissant, MO. "It really effects people who don't have cars. Bus route people." Monte Lacey, left, Florrisant, MO.

Vernon Mitchell Jr., PhD

"I haven't been down this street in 20 years. I wanted to see it. I wanted people to know my city for what it is. And some of that is the ugly side too. I've never seen a black Ferguson cop in my life. Ever." Vernon Mitchell Jr., PhD, from Princeton, NJ by way of Normandy, MO.

Desmond, from St. Louis, MO.

"We all have to police ourselves. 911 come, you don't know if they're liable to hurt you more than the other guy. People say we have to change things through voting. No. We have to change things through standing."

Emily Dillon, from Indianapolis, IN.

"We hitchhiked down a few days ago. I know how to treat tear gas. It's the least I could do." 

Travis Sowell, from St. Louis, MO.

"I spent the night out here, the first night. We all drank from the same fountain. Hell, we all standing here together." 

Jacobi Thomas, from Ferguson, MO.

"I got locked up yesterday, came back. I been out here three days straight!" 

Brett Tornow, from Rochester, NY.

"Once I realized what was going on, I was really impressed by the community. This stuff happens all the time in Rochester and no one knows about it."