The peacemakers arrived on a Sunday, a little more than a day after Michael Brown's shooting. They introduced themselves to police and city officials that afternoon. They met with Brown's family late that night. The two, mediators with a secretive unit of the U.S. Department of Justice called the Community Relations Service, were the first federal officials to arrive in Ferguson, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Since then, as many as eight have worked behind the scenes in Ferguson daily. They've held dozens of meetings with police, residents and community leaders, nearly all of them in secret. The agency is playing what may prove the most important role of any in Ferguson: persuading apprehensive residents, overwhelmed city officials, angry protesters and frustrated police to sit together and talk. “God bless them,” said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic Party leader for Ferguson, and a presence on Ferguson streets since Brown's shooting. “Right now, it's almost like they're herding cats.”