Monday, August 18, 2014

Police Rioted In Ferguson Again Last Night -- Governor Calls Out The Guard

What I saw last night was that thousands of people took to the streets of Ferguson, MO, to march and chant and carry signs in solidarity honoring Michael Brown and to make a very clear statement: "Stop Killing Us." It was by far the biggest demonstration yet, and it was as multi-racial, multi-cultural, and as inclusive as any I've seen in Ferguson to date.

There appeared to be several marches converging on W. Florissant, thousands of people coming from several directions toward what has become the central symbolic focus of the town, the "town square" if you will, the burnt out QT market and gas station, where much of Ferguson's sense of community has been expressed and solidified over the ten days or so since Michael Brown was shot down in the street nearby.

I stepped away from my computer to do other things -- one does have other things to do after all -- and when I returned about an hour later, I was confronted on the livestreams with a line of roided-up police and armored vehicles, behind which the media cameras were assembled ("Stay behind the yellow line and you'll be all right") while blasts from the sound cannon were directed at a good sized group of demonstrators some distance away. So far as I could tell, the demonstrators were... demonstrating. "Peacefully." In the sense that they were not doing anything untoward at all, simply marching in the streets expressing solidarity with one another and being blasted by sound cannon, while media, far away, looked on apprehensively.

I was watching the "I Am Mike Brown" and FOX 2 livestreams simultaneously. They showed similar views from behind police lines, and there was no commentary with either most of the time.

[NBC News compilation of stories and pictures...]

And then the tear gas and smoke grenades started being launched, and the police line moved at a slow and steady pace at the crowd of demonstrators, firing tear gas, flash bangs and what not the while.

For what?

It was more than an hour before the ostensible curfew at midnight, and so far as I could tell, the crowd was not violent or even particularly belligerent. They were loud and boisterous and determined, however, even in the face of sound cannon and what I'm sure they could tell was a coming assault and riot by police.

They were targets and they knew it, and they stood brave and tall.

"No justice, no peace!"

I watched the police riot for an hour or so, and saw and heard a roided up police officer threaten Mustafa Hussain of Argus Radio ("I Am Mike Brown") with summary execution for turning on a light behind police lines, and I knew things could only devolve from that point. I turned it all off and went to bed. Had horrible dreams.

They rioted again. The police rioted again against peaceful, determined demonstrators. They assaulted, gassed, and some say shot demonstrators in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, yet again, and now, according to reports I haven't yet had time to read, the Governor has called in the National Guard.

None of this would be happening or be considered necessary by the Powers That Be if:

  • if Michael Brown hadn't been shot down in the street and left dead in that street for hours afterwards.

  • if authorities had not immediately responded with dogs and assault rifles to community anger and anguish at the initial killing and mistreatment of the body and the insult to the community

  • if police had not set out to suppress subsequent demonstrations with force 

  • if authorities had been forthcoming with information about the shooter and the investigation 

  • if the mostly white authorities had shown the least bit of respect for the people of Ferguson as a community rather than treating them as targets for their weapons.

  • This is well beyond the assholitry and incompetence of any number of named officials -- we all know who they are by now. The situation in Ferguson, and the adamant refusal of officials to address the serious concerns of the community except with violence and suppression, and their ostensible adherence to the importance of "procedure" above all, is surreal.

    The violence of the police started this sequence of events and the violence of the police has kept it in motion ever since.

    I saw a tweet or heard something last night (I don't remember which) that suggested that the police riot last night was triggered when a woman was shot several times in front of one of the stores on Ferguson -- I believe it was Sam's Meat Market. The police apparently blamed the shooting on someone in the crowd, while members of the crowd nearby blamed the police, saying the police had shot her four times. She was said to have been transported to the hospital by someone in the crowd, not by any form of emergency services on scene. In fact, during the police assault on the crowd, I did not see any evidence of Emergency Services on scene to care for anyone who might be injured in the assault, whether police or demonstrators. In the past, authorities have falsely claimed that "no one was injured" in previous police riots/assaults, when obviously many were injured.

    Later on, as the police riot continued, the PIO for St. Louis County Police (often the bad actors in previous police riots) stated that he could confirm that "shots were fired" and "fire was being taken" and the media may have to disperse for their own safety. Of course the immediate question was "who was firing, who was taking shots?" There was no answer.

    And now the Guard has been called out, presumptively a declaration of martial law, but I haven't checked this morning's reports yet.

    Jeebus this sucks.

    And I put full and complete responsibility on Authority. There is no excuse.


    1. This is starting to remind me of 1967. Chicago, Birmingham, Boston, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, New Jersey, ad nausea (how many more cities burnt?); and the big one, Detroit. This country has learned nothing in almost 50 years.

    2. I hear you. This is crazy-time. And none of it needed to happen...

    3. Writing in the comment section at KOS about 7-8 years ago, ( not me), ...some lefty reminded all the readers that the Klan, ( or even more dangerous neo-fascists?), has been infiltrating police departments across the nation since the mid-1980s ........

      ... whether true or not is beyond,(my or even many journalists), mere observational tools most of us have at our disposal to conclude such a judgement either way....

      Like police chiefs are going to own up to such a state of affairs and even investigate, let alone fire folks who have underground ties to the extreme right...... the time of that KOS post I thought it could only true in major southern cities with overt right wingers in power . . . now I am not so sure my skepticism back then was the correct response. Basically judging by events in so many cities some form of cancerous right wing ideological mind set has taken over.... It might be more prudent to at this point to say the militarization of the police has less to do with the "klan" and more to due with the fact the government, that secret government many have written tomes on is more akin to some more modern American version of a out of control Fourth Reich that has only one real allegiance: power, un-ending funding and serving the power elite who sanction all these shootings .....

      1. Well there is the story of Ferguson police Chief Thomas ("Stonewall?") Jackson's Confederate flag in his basement playroom. He also likes to appear with big-necked white boys as backup. He didn't even talk to the Negro put in charge of suppressing the rebellion.

        It's not dispositive, but it is evocative...

        I only spent a few months working in St. Louis thirty years ago but I saw white supremacy and anti-Negro racism deeply ingrained and viciously expressed. A lot of white folks there had very progressive; a lot more had some of the most regressive race attitudes I've seen outside the deepest south.

        But I suspect you're on to something regarding police forces actually recruiting white supremacists. I've heard too many stories and seen too many cops with those attitudes.