Thursday, August 14, 2014


Chicago 1968, Kent State 1970, Watts 1965, Birmingham 1963, Ferguson 2014

Decades have passed since people were angry enough to say "enough" to the status quo. The difference today is that people are now faced with the reality that there is very little tolerance for protest and those that do will now be confronted with a "militarized" police response ( see: 11 Shocking Facts About America's Militarized Police Forces) which is now the "norm" in responding to social unrest.

On Wednesday, police used helicopters, armored vehicles and the threat of arrests to try to control an area that's been torn by racial tension and outrage over the shooting of Brown this past weekend.

Several high-profile arrests were made Wednesday, the fourth night of clashes since looting and other violence broke out Sunday. Among those taken into custody were St. Louis AldermanAntonio French, as well as reporters from The Washington Post and Huffington Post.

The journalists were seized after they were told to leave a fast-food restaurant; they were also asked for their IDs and told to stop taking photos. On Wednesday, police in Ferguson asked protesters to not hold demonstrations after dark.

"This was during daylight. This was not out on the street with hundreds or dozens of people," Wesley Lowery of the Post said on today's Morning Edition. "This was in a McDonald's, with five people, and maybe six officers."

In his first-person account for the Post, Lowery writes that he and The Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly were rounded up as they worked (the Wi-Fi and power outlets at McDonald's have made it popular with journalists in Ferguson).

Lowery says the officers wouldn't identify themselves. He was taken into custody after he asked to adjust his backpack — "and they threw me up against the soda machine, put plastic restraints on the backs of my hands, told me I was resisting arrest."

The two journalists, who had tweeted photos of the confrontation, were quickly released after media contacted the Ferguson police chief seeking comment.

After his release, Lowery tweeted, "I'm emotional, but need to note: Ryan and I are fine. Have seen people in Ferguson hurt by gas/rubber bullets. This wasn't that."

Videos from Ferguson's streets Wednesday night show clouds of tear gas rolling through streets lit with klieg lights and helicopter spotlights, after multiple rounds of gas canisters were fired.

In video posted by local TV news KSDK, police fired a round of tear gas that landed at the feet of a reporting crew from Al Jazeera, which had been taping a report. After the crew ran to escape the fumes, a SWAT vehicle drove to where they had set up, and officers in gas masks dismantled the crew's equipment as another officer swept the nearby area with his rifle.

The military-style equipment and riot gear being used by police in Ferguson has attracted national attention — and the ire of many residents.