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UK Panel Looks For Lessons In Ferguson

A panel of speakers and University of Kentucky students gathered Thursday to begin a local dialogue on the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

The forum, dubbed “Ferguson, Mo: A Look at Media, Politics, and Black Youth in the U.S.," examined the ways in which social media shaped the stories coming out of the St. Louis suburb and how breakdowns in communication helped fuel the unrest.

UK professor and Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker told the audience dramatic disparities between black representation in the Ferguson police department and the makeup of the community likely contributed to feelings of distrust.

"That kind of misrepresentation sounds like Mississippi and South Africa, and you get the same kind of dynamic around race and around conflict when people aren't at the table," he said.

Police spokesperson Sherelle Roberts said Lexington officials are working to avoid that situation by maintaining open lines of communication.

"We have a group of ministers as well as leaders and people that we have an ongoing conversation with. We're talking about every couple of months. We're talking to them about what's going on in the community... so if something ever were to happen, those are the people that we would go to," she said. "And it's just very evident that that groundwork had not been laid in Ferguson."

The event was organized by the UK chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.