If you don’t know what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri, this link has a thorough timeline: Ferguson updates
The basics are on Saturday afternoon, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man getting ready to attend college in a few weeks, was shot in broad daylight and in the middle of the street by a Ferguson police officer. The only other part of the story the police and witnesses agree on is that Mike Brown was unarmed.
The citizens of Ferguson were upset and took to the streets to protest the shooting. The first protests took place later that same afternoon, and, by Sunday were met with a large police presence.
On the night of Sunday, August 10th, the protests crossed the line into riots, which resulted in some local stores being burned and looted.
However, the citizen of Ferguson showed up the next day to clean up the affected buildings, and the protests have been peaceful ever since.
However, the police have brought in armored vehicles, riot gear and teargas as well as rubber bullets and noisemakers.
I counted 70+ SWAT officers. Guns trained on crowds. Insanity. pic.twitter.com/stev2G6v4b
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 13, 2014
These have all been used to break up peaceful protests. This is not supposition. There was a live stream running up until last night, and I watched as American citizens gathered to protest the shooting of Mike Brown as well as the subsequent police brutality. They did nothing but chant and were greeted by a line of armed men and armored vehicles telling them to leave. The police also demanded the media stop recording the event.
When the crowd did not leave, the police advanced and began throwing teargas and shooting rubber bullets, which forced people to flee into a residential neighborhood leaving behind their cars and any means to get home. When the homeowners came out to see what was going on or to also protest from their property, they were subjected to teargas and rubber bullets for standing on their lawns.
(there is cursing in the videos. understandably, in my opinion.)
From the night of August 11th:
From the night of August 13th:
(if you can’t see the video, click here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/9035483/events/3271930/videos/59166942)
The police chief is on record stating that there is no curfew being enforced. They are merely asking that people protest only during the day. I can only surmise that the police chief either has no control over his officers, or without the brave people recording, we would not know to what extent the rights of our fellow citizen were being trampled upon each night.
Of course, even the media has been attacked with teargas and rubber bullets as well as Washington Post and Huffington Post reporters being arrested for not packing up fast enough to leave a McDonalds, which happened to be within a few blocks of a day time protest. Not only are the police terrorizing people at night, but they are indiscriminately shutting down businesses and the media during the day. Read the entire account of the arrest by Wesley Lowery in the Washington Post.
It is important to remember that we don’t lose our right to protest because we are angry. Abortion clinics are surrounded by people yelling horrible things all the time. It has been upheld again and again that people may gather to protest and yell and rally although most of the people are just chanting “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.”
On Thursday, August 14, at 7 p.m. EST, many cities will have a moment of silence and a peaceful protest. Follow #NMOS14 on Twitter or go to their Facebook page. There’s a google document with links to all the cities with scheduled vigils.
And keep watching and learning. The #Ferguson hashtag on Twitter has been so helpful as well as Alderman Antonio French or WashPo reporter Wesley Lowery twitter feeds. Also, reach out to your representatives and ask them to make a statement. Let the people of Ferguson know that we are paying attention and more importantly, we care.
I’ll update as I find more ways to help.