Those people running from police tear gas in the above vid, they’re Al-Jazeera Reporters. That should set the stage for what’s been happening but here’s a little more backstory in case you’ve been in a coma.
- An unarmed 18-year-old Black man named Mike Brown was shot and killed by a White police officer on August 9th. The shooting officer claims that Brown tried to take his gun however Brown was shot from distance, reportedly with his hands in the air indicating that if any altercation had occurred then it was over at the time Brown was killed.
- Many Ferguson residents began protesting while other people starting looting stores in Ferguson. It’s been reported that most of these individuals were not from Ferguson, Missouri but from the nearby city of St. Louis.
- Police cracked down, hard, including closing Ferguson’s airspace on August 12th until the 18th, claiming that shots had been fired at a police helicopter on August 10th. Note the gap between the closing of the airspace and the alleged shots fired at a helicopter, two days (not a lot of urgency there). Note also that the 12th was the day that photos began appearing of police wearing paramilitary gear confronting protesters.
On the 13th, police instituted a night time curfew despite no further looting having occurred and the protests having been overwhelmingly peaceful.
The protesters did not disperse when night fell and that brings us to nightmare that resulted which includes reporters being arrested, civilians being arrested, and Ferguson’s own elected Alderman being arrested, and Ferguson’s streets being filled with tear gas.
All through the day, police had reinforced and reinforced until there was what appeared to be a small military contingent on the scene.
This despite the protests looking like this:
Night fell, the police ordered everyone to disperse and declared the protest to be unlawful.
Shortly after, the police began popping off tear gas canisters.
The above Vine videos were taken by Ferguson Alderman, Antonio French. For those that don’t know, Alderman is an elected position and French is an elected official. He took these videos from near and inside his car where he was later arrested. This tweet is from his wife:
He was finally released at around 8 am EST.
This was the scene while waiting for him to be released, it looks like a literal war zone.
This tweet is also salient.
In addition to French, multiple reporters were detained, harassed, or arrested, including Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery. Both were taken into custody without cause while at a McDonald’s near the protests, reportedly charging their electronics. Here’s a video Lowery took of the experience.
Lowery claims that once he’d put his camera away he was then “assaulted and slammed against the soda machine.” Here’s a picture of Reilly being led away after being arrested:
Once Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was notified his officers had arrested two reporters he gave the only appropriate response that authorities have given since Mike Brown was shot dead.
Fifteen minutes later, Jackson had ordered them released.
So what does all this mean? Well there’s several narratives. There’s the racial narrative, clearly the above looks like an overwhelmingly White police force cracking down on a peaceful protest to the point that it becomes violent. There’s the militarization of our domestic police force. As the above salient tweet rightly indicates, the Federal government has been pumping billions of dollars into giving local law enforcement enough serious military equipment to qualify them as paramilitary all in the name of preparing for some elusive terrorist threat akin to the Mumbai, India attacks in 2008 where heavily armed extremists walked around shooting civilians. And yet, here we are with law enforcement using these tools in a provocative manner and arresting innocent people, violating their Constitutional rights, simply because they have the force to do so. It’s basically the exact scenario every freedom loving person on the Right and Left has been warning against for years with no one in government listening.
What should be done here? Fire everyone on the police force now because when the dust has settled on all the justly filed lawsuits that will result from this the city will have to fire them anyway. This is not how you run a city or a police force. The Mayor of Ferguson, James W. Knowles III should resign immediately. Police Chief Tom Jackson should resign immediately. They are not competent to serve.