Tag Archives: Ferguson Missouri

Six Days in Ferguson: Voices from the Protests

 

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica
August 15, 2014

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 9, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown. The killing sparked immediate protests in Ferguson which was followed by a heavily militarized police response that drew national condemnation.

Here is a day-by-day chronology of what happened in Ferguson, drawn from the best reporting by journalists and witnesses on the ground.

Saturday, August 9

“I know they killed my son. This was wrong and it was cold-hearted… [He] doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”

Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, overheard speaking to an acquaintance at the scene of her son’s shooting.

“Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”

Words on a sign held by Brown’s stepfather.

“Police have brought out the large gear in #Ferguson.”

Tweet from St. Louis alderman Antonio French, Saturday, 4:35 pm.

“Don’t shoot me!”

Protesters held up their hands as they faced off against police officers with barking dogs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Sunday, August 10

“We want this to come to a conclusion quickly.”

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

“How can we protect our children?”

A mother screams at County Executive Charlie Dooley as he visits the protesters.

“Ferguson killed my son. Ferguson flat-out murdered my son in the street.”

Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, sitting by a memorial for Brown on Sunday.

“It’s bad… I don’t blame the police, but they can’t keep up.”

Jimmy Muhammad, 32, told the Post-Dispatch that he and others had just fought off a gang of young men with guns who tried to break into his uncle’s store, which was one of several stores targeted that night.

Monday, August 11

“Michael Brown didn’t get due process. The still unnamed police officer who shot the 18-year-old black teenager dead in Ferguson will get plenty of it.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Monday editorial focused on the broader context behind the outrage over Brown’s death, including the racial profiling of black men.

“After that was done and people were leaving, I remember seeing him off to the side. He kind of just came up to me and said, ‘We made it.'”

Raquan Smith, one of Brown’s friends, describing what Brown told him the day he graduated.

“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community. You have kids getting killed for nothing.”

DeAndre Smith talks to a Post-Dispatch reporter about the looting on Sunday night.

“Look out here right now. The lack of black police officers either on the street or at the administrative level… This whole area, this city is a racial powder keg.”

Jerryl Christmas, 50, a defense attorney and former prosecutor for the city of St. Louis, talking to the Los Angeles Times at a protest on Monday.

“Fuck the police.”

Julie Bosman of The New York Times describes what protesters are singing in Ferguson, 6:46 pm .

“Insurance is high, gas is high, but that’s not why I get mad. At the end of the day, when I’m driving home, they ask me to pull over and get out of the car. No ‘license and registration, please.‘ Get out of the car. Lay on the ground. Put your hands on your head.”

Ricky Jones, 34, at a protest in Ferguson on Monday night .

“These are the next kids to get shot, right here.”

St. Louis resident Troy Woods describing the young demonstrators massed on a hill on Monday night.

“These m———— came out of the cut and sprayed me in the face like this is a f—– video game or something.”

A 23 year old resident of the neighborhood near West Florissant Street, a center of protests. The young man said police had sprayed tear gas in his face and hit him with rubber bullets. “I was just trying to get to my sister’s house,” he told the Washington Post.

“You have a son, I have a daughter. Let’s go home now.” “No, I’m tired of putting up with this.”

A Washington Post reporter hears a conversation between the female passenger and the male driver of a car approaching the police line, with “NWA’s “F— the Police” playing loudly from its speakers.”

Tuesday, August 12

“He’d accomplished it. In the last two months, man, Mike was there every doggone day and he was giving it his full effort.”

John Kennedy, one of Mike Brown’s teachers at Normandy High, describes how hard Brown had worked to get his high school diploma.

“‘Get the f—k on the sidewalk.’ His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk.”

22-year-old Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when he was killed, gives MSNBC his account of their interaction with the police.

“This is how the boy died! With his hands up in the air!”

Kendrick Strong, 42, at a protest in front of the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office on Tuesday morning.

“See this dent? I got smacked in the head with a flashlight because I didn’t say, ‘Yes, sir.’ I was 14 years old.”

Aha Sen Piankhy, 38, describing his motivation for being at a protest in Clayton, Missouri, on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve sold a variety of handguns, shotguns and AR-15s. All of the sales are having to do with home defense.”

Steve King, owner of Metro Shooting, a gun store near Ferguson, told the St. Louis Business Journal that gun sales had spiked 50 percent in response to recent events. Both black and white customers had purchased firearms, he said.

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

Protesters in Ferguson, Tuesday night, 7:34 pm.

Wednesday, August 13

“Very shaken.”

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson describes the condition of the officer who shot Brown. Jackson said the officer was injured in his confrontation with Brown. The “side of his face was swollen” and he went to the hospital for treatment, he said.

“The clock is ticking and the time is late. This situation has been thirty years in the making.”

Malik Ahmed, the C.E.O. of Better Family Life in Ferguson, to New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

“This story’s going to get out there. It’s going to be on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow.” “Yeah, well, you’re going to be in my jail cell tonight.”

Washington Post Reporter Wesley Lowery, describing his conversation with a police officer after he was arrested for “trespassing in a McDonald’s.”

“Oh, God.”

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson’s response when a Los Angeles Times reporter told him on Wednesday night that police have arrested two journalists. “I told them to release them,” he then said.

Thursday, August 14

“We have a right to protest 24 hours a day. Our constitutional rights don’t expire at 9 p.m.”

St. Louis alderman Antonio French, on his release from jail on Thursday morning. French, who has been live-tweeting the protests, was arrested at Wednesday night for “unlawful assembly.” He said a police officer dragged him out of his car.

“We are appalled.”

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin D. Baron, in a statement on Lowery’s arrest.

“We must demilitarize the police.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) decries the use of military-style force against protesters in Ferguson.

“The police response needs to be demilitarized.”

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) decries the use of military-style force against protesters in Ferguson.

“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights… we’re all part of one American family.”

After discussing the situation in Iraq, President Barack Obama makes a statement on the events in Ferguson.

“I don’t want to see tanks on American streets, period.”

Iraq war veteran Tyson Manker, 33, to Los Angeles Times journalist Matt Pearce, in Ferguson.

“This is a place where people work, go to school, raise their families, and go to church… But lately it’s looked a little bit more like a war zone and that’s unacceptable.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon pledges that there will be a “much better and much different tone” in response to the protests.

“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd.”

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson, who was sent in by Gov. Nixon to lead a changed police approach to the protests, talks to reporters in Ferguson. Johnson, who is African-American, is a Ferguson native.

“Tell her Capt. Johnson is sorry and he apologizes.”

Johnson responds to a man who asks what he would say to his niece, who had been tear-gassed.

“Yes, that is Thomas the Train.”

FOX2 reports on changed tone of the protests on Thursday night.

“Weird party/protest vibe hard to explain, it’s a Partest.”

Post-Dispatch photographer David Carson, describing mood on Thursday night.

“I’m excited… relieved.”

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson tells the Los Angeles Times about his reaction to the calmer protests.

“It is a celebration. Now, we can focus on Mike.”

A protester to KMOV reporter Craig Cheatham.

Friday, August 15

“The officer who was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson.”

After nearly a week of protests, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson names the officer who shot Michael Brown. Wilson is a six year veteran of the force with no disciplinary record. He was responding to a “strong-arm” robbery at a convenience store. Wilson encountered Brown at 12:01. By 12:04, when another officer arrived, Brown had been fatally shot.

“Where’s the footage?”

Laura Keys, 50, of St. Louis, responding to the new police account of Brown’s death. “I can’t believe this is the tactic they are using, bringing up a robbery to make the victim look like he was the person who created this whole mess,” she said.

“Stills from the convenience store.”

Reporters, including Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce, immediately share the two pages of images the police provided to journalists.

“After viewing Brown and reviewing this video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident.”

Police release the incident report of a reported robbery at a convenience store just before Brown’s shooting.

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Further reading:
A letter to Missouri police forces from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, from media outlets and advocacy organizations
Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest, an essay by Garrett Albert Duncan in Loose Leaf, Facts and Opinions

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? If you’d like to support our journalism, for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work.


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Michael Brown, Ferguson and the nature of unrest

The American town of Ferguson, Missouri, was been wracked by violence and protests this month  following the fatal police shooting of teenage college student Michael Brown. Garrett Albert Duncan, a scholar in education and African-American Studies at Washington University in Missouri, writes about Brown’s death in the context of  American culture. 

GARRETT ALBERT DUNCAN, Washington University in St Louis, The Conversation
August, 2014

“The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time … I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” – Statement by US president Barack Obama on the passing of Michael Brown, August 12, 2014.

Many Americans share president Barack Obama’s sentiment regarding the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This is clearly indicated in the deeply felt hurt experienced by so many and the massive swell of moral support people of all backgrounds offered to the young man’s parents in recent days.

But to suggest that all, or even most, Americans feel the same would be severely misleading. Some citizens, drawing on media-fed imagery and timeworn stereotypes of young black men, have gone so far as to suggest that the unarmed teenager’s tragic death at the hands of a Ferguson police officer was self-inflicted, of his own doing, deserved and the result of his defiance of state authority.

A young man with a promising future notwithstanding, too many in the United States view the disputed events that led to Brown’s death as the reasonable, albeit unfortunate, consequence of his errant behaviour.

These views are not necessarily based on ignorance or even racial animus. However, it must be made clear, these features remain entrenched themes of contemporary American culture and life. The devaluing of Brown’s life is informed by a form of marginalisation that refers to the condition of those whom the broader society chronically excludes from economic networks and networks of care – or what American legal scholar Richard Delgado describes as being “beyond love”.

Missouri in general and the St Louis metropolitan area in particular has a long history of this kind of exclusion. A New York Times editorial on Brown’s death, for instance, describes “the history of racial segregation, economic inequality and overbearing law enforcement that produced so much of the tension now evident on the streets” of Ferguson, a suburban town of 21,000 people. The editorial goes on to note that, “until the late 1940s, blacks weren’t allowed to live in most suburban St Louis County towns.”

In addition, a core American cultural value that gives priority to property rights over human rights informs such indifference towards the lives of especially young black men and women. This is evident in the almost immediate media shift from the focus on what some regard as the state-sanctioned murder of Brown, whose lifeless body was left exposed, lying on the open boulevard for over four hours, to an over-emphasis on the loss of property in Ferguson in the aftermath of his death.

In this instance, the importance of property is evident in the roll-out of body-armoured police, the deployment of tanks and police cars to barricade citizens, and the wanton firing of tear gas and rubber bullets into peaceful crowds.

In effect, these domestic military manoeuvres in an overwhelmingly black neighbourhood were in no way intended to protect the lives of its residents but rather its property.

Even Obama’s words betray this sentiment. His reference to “strong passions” and emphases on “reflection and understanding” and on talk “that heals, not in ways that wound” is in tacit reference to the days of unrest that followed Brown’s death. But these wounds and so-called violence in response to Brown’s death were directed at the economic institutions and patterns of oppression and racial violence that figure so prominently in the marginalisation of many of Ferguson’s residents.

The violence that the authorities would be prudent to attend to are the very structural forces that oppress the youth who have responded en masse to the senseless death of one of their own. For sure, there are many older adults, sincere, concerned and operating in good faith, who have joined them.

The waning generations too must partner with their daughters and sons in transforming the conditions under which America continues to bury its young.

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The Conversation

Garrett Albert Duncan, Associate Professor of Education and of African & African-American Studies in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St Louis, does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Further reading:
Read the work of ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones on America’s “Freedom Summer” in our Magazine section: 
Ghosts of Greenwood and Brutal Loss, Enduring Conviction

 

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? If you’d like to support our journalism, for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for original F&O work.

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