Josh Williams’ mother drove Michael Brown’s school bus. In 2014, Williams and Brown were both 18 and knew each other, though not well. Williams said he was shaken by his death.
Williams, who is black, took to the streets of Ferguson the night after the shooting and stayed there for the months of protests that followed. He lived in a tent most of the time along West Florissant Avenue.
In December 2014, Antonio Martin was killed in a confrontation with police at a gas station in Berkeley, near Ferguson. In what he called a fit of anger during a protest, Williams grabbed a few things from the store and set fire to a trash can.
The crime was captured by a TV news crew, and Williams was arrested the next day. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. His only prior arrests were for disturbances related to protests.
Now 23, Williams is housed in a prison southwest of St. Louis. He said he spends much of his time counseling other prisoners, helping them prepare for life once they get out.