Tensions Boil Over In Ferguson Tuesday Night After Fire At Michael Brown Memorial

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Protests resumed in Ferguson Tuesday night that led to the arrests of seven people. One local store was damaged when a rock was thrown through a window. However, there was no looting of the store, despite local media outlets using that word in their headlines. Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers at the scene, leading to the arrests. At one point, there were roughly 200 demonstrators gathered at West Florissant and Canfield, which was the main gathering point for the nightly protests in August. Towards the end of the evening, that number had dwindled down to about 50.

While protests have continued in the area throughout the month of September, they have been during daytime hours and organized by groups. They’ve generally adhered to set schedules and agendas, and the demonstrations have been largely peaceful. Other than an attempted highway shutdown protest earlier this month, demonstrators and police have not dealt with large-scale confrontations like the kind we saw last month during the nighttime protests that made national headlines. That changed Tuesday night as police gathered on W. Florissant to engage the group of protesters late in the evening.

It appears that the main impetus for the demonstration was a fire that burned down a makeshift memorial to honor Michael Brown. The memorial, consisting mostly of teddy bears, balloons and handmade signs, was erected on the side of the street where Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. Another memorial, located at the spot where Brown died, was undamaged and remains intact. Local residents immediately suspected Ferguson police of setting the fire. While this is mostly due to a complete distrust of local police, some of that suspicion also comes from police arriving at the scene of the fire and standing around watching it while it burned. Police will say they were waiting on the fire department to arrive, but it can be argued that police could have helped put the relatively small fire out using fire extinguishers in their vehicles.

Of course, this could have just been the spark that ignited the anger and rage that was bubbling under the surface the past few weeks. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French tweeted out those sentiments Tuesday night.

 

While the violent protests had stopped a while ago, people in the area are still angry that Wilson remains free and the grand jury is still contemplating charges against him. There is a huge amount of distrust, not only with local law enforcement, but St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who decided to send the matter to the grand jury instead of issuing charges himself. With the grand jury convening until January 7th, there is a fear that McCulloch and law enforcement are hoping to string this out into the winter and with the hopes of quietly announcing that Wilson has been cleared of any wrongdoing. The longer we go without charges filed against Wilson, the more cynical area residents get that justice will be served. Eventually, Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol arrived at the scene, along with St. Louis Metro Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis County Chief Jon Belmar. Johnson was put in charge of security of the Ferguson protests by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last month after Belmar and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson were relieved due to their militarized police tactics when dealing with protesters.  

 

While protesters displayed their anger throughout the night, and tensions did boil over at times as some demonstrators threw objects at the police, there was relatively little damage done to properties. A beauty shop had its window broke. However, the owner said no merchandise was taken.

 

 

Towards the end of the night, shots were heard in the area. Nobody was hit and after the shots were fired many of the remaining protesters ran down Canfield Drive. Reports of a fire in downtown Ferguson were overstated. A fire was set outside a store, but the store itself was not seriously damaged. Local police were able to put the small fire out with a garden hose. Police also report that a Molotov cocktail was thrown into an auto shop which the police use to impound cars. It is reported that no real damage was done.

Wednesday morning, McCulloch was on the air with a local radio station. He stated that he felt that the grand jury will return with a recommendation by the end of October or early November. He does not believe it will be January 7th. I doubt that is going to make the residents feel better.

 

Image courtesy of St. Louis Post-Dispatch

7 Replies to “Tensions Boil Over In Ferguson Tuesday Night After Fire At Michael Brown Memorial”

  1. okay, I think it’s time we recognize that some of the violent demonstrators were from Ferguson. And they are still not giving themselves a good name.

    It is obvious that the policeman needs to be arrested. That is obvious at least to me with as much focus is on this city, the police arnt going to go out and burn down a memorial. if they were, they would’ve burned both of them.

    I support the arrest and conviction of Wilson. And while I am white I certainly cannot understand the hatred and bitterness that the people of Ferguson feel over the shooting as well as they do. But at some point they have to understand that violence is not going to help them in any way. The shooting is overshadowed by the violence. And that Helps to deny any hope of justice.

    they need to vote. Vote to get the people in power out of power and do it every chance they get. Ferguson is a microcosm of South Africa under white rule and this should never be allowed

  2. I think the mayor,the chief is trying to keep the people upset so they won’t vote. Hopefully the people will not fall for this trick and get out and vote like never before. They are probably shock about the number of people of have legally register to vote and that can vote and they know that will mean trouble if they do. So let us all encourage them to hang in there and vote. That is why now he is saying he look for the grand jury to make a decision before the end of october, right before the election. Let it be the right decision one that will be a peaceful one and not lead to more protesting but if it need to protesting let it be peaceful.

  3. I am not a fire scientist, but I seriously doubt tea candles could start a fire of the magnitude that has occurred.

    Such a small flame – hardly a suitable source of ignition.

  4. For one, blacks are tired, and while you don’t agree with the anger, you could not possibly understand the frustration and the isolation that my people are feeling. You don’t go through what blacks have and are still going through, and until you do, and take a walk in our shoes, you will never understand it. There is no tolerance and no patience left. And until you go through it you have no comment because your comment has no merit.

  5. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity…. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
    Nelson Mandela

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