A St. Louis police officer is under investigation after calling the a real estate broker’s office to discuss the broker’s involvement in protests surrounding the shootings of Michael Brown and VonDerrit Myers, Jr. The officer in question, Keith Novara, called to complain about the actions of Leigh Maibes, who is known as ‘Short Stack’ on Twitter and has been protesting in Ferguson since Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. Recently, protests moved to the Shaw neighborhood in south St. Louis after the shooting death of Myers. Also, a number of protests and ‘actions’ took place in multiple areas of St. Louis during Ferguson October’s Weekend of Resistance
Earlier this week, Novara called RE/Max, the real estate brokerage firm where Maibes works. Pr Novara, he just wanted to let Maibes’ employer know the activities she’s been up to, especially as he feels that she, and other protesters, are engaging in “corrosive behavior.” Maibes called the police officer on Wednesday to discuss why he called her employer. Below is her YouTube video of the call:
Obviously, the intention of Officer Novara was to intimidate Maibes and other activists. By calling her employer, he was hoping to force Maibes to back off from further protests, perhaps even force her to stop filming while at demonstrations. The police department is now investigating Novara and he has retained a lawyer via the police officers union. The union released a statement defending Novara’s actions, which Maibes tweeted out on Thursday.
This is a horribly nasty statement about me. Yet, I am still not against police. pic.twitter.com/W5Uno0v1vm
— Short Stack (@stackizshort) October 16, 2014
Maibes also made a insightful statement regarding the actions taken against her by the police. She wondered what is happening to other protesters and activists, especially those who are people of color, if this is occurring to her.
If this is happening to me. What do you all think is happening to POC on the street? I will continue to speak out. I will continue to film. — Short Stack (@stackizshort) October 17, 2014
Just from my own interactions with protesters during demonstrations in Ferguson, it is apparent that officers are targeting certain people and essentially taking tabs. During Monday’s demonstration at the Ferguson police station, one young activist spoke to me and pointed out that specific police officers were “eyeballing’ him and others based on their familiarity. Other protesters have mentioned this as well, claiming that officers have made inquiries about their lives only to later make veiled threats about calling their work, home or school. I’ve also been informed of the specific targeting of activist and livestreamers by police for either arrest or harsh police tactics such as tear gas, pepper spray or rubber bullets. (in this instance, I am leaving names out due to the potential impact identifying them could have with police.)
As for Maibes, she is not going to let this deter her one bit. She claimed on Twitter Friday that she would continue to document what is happening in these protests.
We need to get the word out, and support peaceful demonstrators & protect their rights. I will continue to film. #Fergsuon
— Short Stack (@stackizshort) October 17, 2014
Currently, the protesters are waiting for a ruling to come down from the grand jury regarding Wilson’s fate. St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said last month that he expected the grand jury to come to a decision no later than early November. With such a long wait, many of the most active protesters feel that a non-indictment is coming.
70 days. Darren Wilson, free. Indictment, seeming unlikely. Justice, blind to blackness. Protestors, firmly planted. #Ferguson
— deray mckesson (@deray) October 17, 2014
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).