Protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of unarmed teen Mike Brown, and the police are now using tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue peaceful protestors and even visiting journalists alike. Read on for a brief breakdown of the situation in Ferguson and for President Obama’s August 14 statement which calls for peace moving forward.
Michael Brown was just 18 years old when he was shot by a police officer in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, allegedly because Mike shoved a police officer. Misinformation persists as Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson insists — most recently on The Sean Hannity Show — that there had been a struggle over the arresting officer’s weapon in his police car, despite several witnesses insisting to CNN that not only was there no initial struggle, but that Mike had never even entered the police car. In Ferguson, peaceful protests have turned to looting which has turned to aggressive, military-style actions on part of the police, who now have rubber bullets, tanks, and tear gas at their disposal — none of which they are afraid to use.
Ferguson: Mike Brown Protestors & Journalists Tear Gassed & Jailed Without Cause
The residents of Ferguson aren’t the only one receiving unfair treatment — even visiting journalists have been jailed. Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery was stationed in a McDonald’s on August 13 near the scene of Mike Brown’s shooting along with Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly.
As they worked, armed officers entered the McDonald’s and demanded that everyone leave, and were told that if they called 911, no one would answer. Wesley was eventually jailed for no real cause (“trespassing in a McDonald’s” was the reason given), and then released a few hours later without paperwork, and police wouldn’t give Wesley any names of the officers involved.
The situation began with peaceful protests — on August 9, Ferguson residents gathered to hold their hands up and chant “Don’t shoot me” at the scene of Mike’s shooting. CNN reports that more than 100 police were called in to monitor these protests, and Police Chief Thomas Jackson says that they were “riot conditions” and that protestors were chanting “kill the police” — on-site protestors insist they were saying “killer cops have got to go.”
The looting started on Sunday, August 10, which is when SWAT was called in.
Ferguson: Tear Gas & Tanks On The Streets Of Ferguson; Journalists Subdued & Jailed
On the evening of August 13, tear gas was used by the police to disperse protestors, including journalists like Rembert Browne from Grantland, who shared his account on Twitter:
“PLEASE STEP AWAY. 25 FEET.” – the tanks.
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) August 14, 2014
they shot tear gas canisters at us. we all ran. I fell and my phone broke. Tweeting from someone else’s phone. Jesus Christ.
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) August 14, 2014
They said it suddenly got “unpeaceful.” I was in the first two rows. Didn’t see that shit. Only heard stuff suddenly firing off. — Rembert Browne (@rembert) August 14, 2014
Vigilance group Anonymous had been threatening to reveal the name of the officer who shot Mike Brown, and when they did so on August 13, their Twitter account @TheAnonMessage was suspended.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the situation in Ferguson, and it’s hard to imagine a peaceful resolution happening any time soon.
President Obama: ‘Now Is The Time For Healing … On The Streets Of Ferguson’
On August 14, President Obama said in a statement that “Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their job and report to the American people what they see on the ground.”
President Obama’s statement was fairly obvious — the fact that police need to be told how to or how not to do their jobs while they’re in full possession of tanks and riot gear is a little shocking and indicative of the situation on the ground in Ferguson.
“When something like this happens, local authorities, including the police, have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death,” Obama said.
“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 is 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,” he added.
As for what’s being done, moving forward?
“Now is the time for healing,” Obama said. “Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done.
“And I’ve asked the attorney general and the U.S. attorney on the scene to continue to work with local officials to move that process forward.”
UPDATE: A preliminary autopsy revealed that Michael was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.
HollywoodLifers, what do you think about what’s going on in Ferguson?
— Amanda Michelle Steiner