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Friday, November 28, 2014

Update on Ferguson MO—They planned for it and they got a riot

Shortly after the verdict in the shooting by Officer Darren Wilson, who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in FergusonMO, we received this on the spot report from correspondent Chris Otto, who lives in St. Louis MO.
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Here is his report:

I said (before)... there would be some trouble for sure, but the only way it would get really bad was if they let it. Well, they let it. The decision to announce this at night was the first problem, daytime protests do not turn violent, but as one law enforcement official explained, they do "disrupt business". All public officials, from the governor to mayors, had pledged that protests would be allowed, but rioting and looting would not be allowed. In some places that was the case. In south St. Louis city protesters were allowed to occupy the street (Grand Ave.), and march up and down them some until people started breaking windows and shit, and then the streets were cleared by law enforcement. 

     In Ferguson, they did it backwards, prohibiting protests while allowing rioting. I was watching it unfold on a live feed from someone on the ground in Ferguson, the local "news media" just hang back as for as they can and ask the cops what's going on. Protesters were gathered in front of the Ferguson Police Station, which was expected. Police were trying to demand that the large crowd stay on the sidewalk and not block the street. This was never going to happen, and it was stupid even ask for it. As people gathered in the street, police made no attempt to divert traffic away from the scene, (which is a standard procedure in crowd control), adding to the confusion. Then the crowd tried to march down the street, again, this is to be expected. Police immediately set up a line to stop the march, enraging the crowd. Here's where it gets weird. The police had left an unattended squad car just past their line, on the protesters side. They had to know the enraged crowd would take out it's frustrations on the vehicle, which they did. Meanwhile, protesters were protecting local businesses from idiots in the crowd who were trying to break windows and tear shit up. These were unarmed, young black men, lining up in front of storefronts and restaurants, creating a human shield to ward off rock throwing assholes. At some point a few rocks were thrown at the police line, and then in came the tear gas and cop tanks. Tear gas was shot in seemingly random fashion, landing in empty lots and backyards, well away from the protesters. Most of the protesters scattered and left the streets, at which point the police collapsed back to the police station. There they sat passively as looters and rioters descended on Ferguson, unquestioned, unstopped and generally left to burn and loot as they please. Those young black men were the only people I saw trying to defend Ferguson. All the talk, all the speeches about "violence will not be tolerated, and when push came to shove, Ferguson was left to burn. No police, the national guard was on stand by, waiting for... the fires to burn themselves out? The precious police station, which was never really in danger, was the one and only priority in Ferguson

     They screwed Ferguson, and the rest of "North County" ( the northern half of St. Louis County). North County (Overland is considered North County) is more diverse and less affluent than "West County" and "South County". they never would have allowed things to get this other parts of the county. 

There is more to the story, but I've said enough. Ferguson burned because it was deemed expendable. It burned because they let it burn. 

-Chris Otto
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