Ferguson Residents React to Dellwood Market Looting, Militarized Police Presence

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Ray Downs
The St. Louis County Police Department.
Just a few hours before the Dellwood Market on Chambers Street in Ferguson was looted Sunday night, Lindsey Johnson was there to buy some groceries. When she saw people rushing in and out of the small store on Chambers Street with stolen goods in their arms, it hurt.

"We know the people who own that store," Johnson told Daily RFT. "We have relationships with them. They're good people."

The ransacking of the grocery store began around midnight, and reports say the place was also set on fire. Gunshots were fired, and a photo of a bullet lodged into the front door was shared on Twitter by KMOV (Channel 4) photographer Adam Randall.

After things settled down at the Chambers Street store, Johnson stood outside on the corner with several of her neighbors, talking about the looting, the protesting and the military-like police presence that has made Ferguson infamous.

"This is really tragic -- we shop at all these stores," said Craig Ruffin, 29. "I'm with the peaceful protesting. But this right here, this is not what we're about."

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson.

Others nodded in agreement, but they also suspect that people from outside the neighborhood are responsible for the looting -- not Ferguson residents. A pickup truck with several young people inside was parked across the street, down from the Dellwood Market.

"See? They're waiting for the police to leave the store," Ruffin said. "They're not from here."

"There are a lot of opportunists running around trying to take advantage of what's been happening in Ferguson, but it's not people in Ferguson doing it," Johnson added. "Why would you ruin a store where you live and need to go shop at?"

Despite the suspicion that those guilty of the looting are mostly from out of town, this group of neighbors say that's almost beside the point because the real problem is a result of several decades of racial profiling.

"This all goes back 35 years," explains Carla Johnson, 64, who says her brother was killed by police in 1990.

"I've worked hard to teach my kids what to do, what not to do, to try and avoid getting harassed, but you can only do so much," she said. "The police departments here are old boys' clubs, but Ferguson is the worst of them."

Everyone nods. They all have stories of being stopped walking down the street, questioned for no apparent reason and especially about pulled over while driving.

"I always have my insurance up to date, my plates up to date," said Ruffin. "But I still get pulled over. I'd do that anyways because I'm supposed to, but especially because I know I'll get pulled over."

From across the street, a St. Louis County police officer guarding the Dellwood Market shined a blinding spotlight on the group of neighbors. He let it stay on them for several minutes.

Randolph Scott, 55, had to squint his eyes.

"Why is he doing that?" asked Scott, frustrated. "We're peaceful. We live here. I want to go over there and tell that officer that I'm on his side -- this looting needs to stop. But if I went over there, he might pull a gun on me."

As the group stood outside, several military vehicles carrying camouflage-clad police officers toting rifles rolled up and down Chambers Street.

"Now that's scary," said Karla Johnson. "That's just scary to have that in your own community. They don't need to have all that here."

Scott agreed. He understands police need to address a difficult situation and protect businesses at risk of looting, but says that the reaction has been exaggerated -- and he suspects it's because Ferguson has a predominantly black population.

"When they rioted over that hockey game and caused $4 million worth of damage, nobody cared," Scott said, referring to the riot that occurred after the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup Final loss to the Boston Bruins in 2011. "But here -- I don't think there's been $4 million worth of damage, and they send in the all this."

And the beefed-up police presence, complete with armored trucks, riot police, sound cannons, and tear gas nearly every night since protests began, is making matters worse, says Ruffin.

"They're shooting rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd. That is not right. One day I had my daughter out there," said Ruffin, who has participated in peaceful protests on West Florissant this week. With reports of tear gas being fired into a crowd that has children in it Sunday night, he said he's worried his daughter could have been hurt.

"They don't know who's in that crowd," he said. "It's not right, and it's causing all of this. I don't know why they don't understand that. There are no problems [at protests] until police presence show up."

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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53 comments
Ashpit Digger
Ashpit Digger

Is it me or has anyone else noticed that RFT only posts negative headlines about this whole situation? I do realize that RFT leans so far left that it's almost laying down but come on. Some so called news sources like to fan the fire I guess. Where are the news stories about organizations stepping up and helping out residents, stories about volunteers getting out and cleaning up this mess. Why so many confrontational stories RFT?

Killian Walsh
Killian Walsh

What has struck me has been the lack of communication on the police side, wouldn't it have been wiser and a faster route to mediate with words not weapons? There is a lack of experience on urban crowd management.

Benjamin Abraham
Benjamin Abraham

I'm so sick of theses people whining about the police and white people giving them a hard time for being black. Really it's because the majority of these people gang bang, steal, rape, and loot. If you don't condone these things, you are a racist. I wish our ancestors would have left these people in Africa. I black comedian can call me a cracker and it's okay, but it is politically incorrect for me to not like these people's actions. I'm sick of it!

Elizabeth Grill
Elizabeth Grill

You know what would say "im on your side" going home....

David Gilmore
David Gilmore

Why put him in jail for shooting a thug that beat him in the head , robed for cigars and charged at him? Sounds like a cop doing his job. I know he was a good boy!

Christine Hagan
Christine Hagan

I am an it just look like a new party places for drunks an dope heads but its not in a building!

Mike McClanahan
Mike McClanahan

There's no god. These Bible stories and characters are anthropomorphized from years of using the sky and constellations to help with farming. They are fables.

Jon Todaro
Jon Todaro

First Amendment is trumped by law when it is put in place for the safety of the masses.

Mike McClanahan
Mike McClanahan

First Amendment doesn't stop at midnight. No one has the power to take that away.

cturtle31
cturtle31

@RiverfrontTimes there is a police presence all over the region, yet crime exists. Police didn't cause this.

Beth Hudson Brown
Beth Hudson Brown

I wish that person didn't feel frightened to talk to the authorities...not suppose to be like that.

Mark Sullivan
Mark Sullivan

The reason why there is a curfew is because some of these "Peaceful Protests" you have looters and people who mean to spread mayhem and cause harm to others, and to others property. The people and businesses of Ferguson do not deserve the opportunistic pieces of shit that are causing harm, and are not there for this cause, but are there for solely themselves

markie19
markie19 topcommenter


11 days ago

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DeleteShareLikeReplymarkie19Jul 20, 2014

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markie1918 hours ago


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Eric S Smith
Eric S Smith

Krystol D. Trice, just maybe he might be justified? And hanging him now is as animalistic as the people burning the city down.

Noah Leitch
Noah Leitch

They bring their children so they dont get locked up most police do not want to deal with children.

Theirry Less
Theirry Less

"God" only helps those who help themselves. The only reason these things happen is because people think they don't have to take responsibility for their actions. You break a law, there are consequences! Even "god" has said this in your bible. Until there is accountability from ALL people, things will remain the same.

Jennifer A Hill
Jennifer A Hill

God has not helped people of color in this struggle, the only people who can change this are white people. Until we change, this will be the reality.

Frederick Steck
Frederick Steck

To late for that shit it is going down for real i new this was comin i grew up over there furguson would even pull me over its going down stay neutral

Theirry Less
Theirry Less

Krystol- so by your reasoning, EVERYTIME a cop shoots someone, they should go to jail. How stupid is that logic!? Hugs and kisses does not put the bad guys in jail.

Laura Knoblock
Laura Knoblock

If god made that happen then I don't know why you'd support him.

Krystol D. Trice
Krystol D. Trice

You know what will actually make all of the protestors and looters go away? The Ferguson PD could put their officer Darren Wilson in jail for shooting someone. That's what they would do to anyone else who shoots someone. Don't worry, he will be protected in his cell. The investigation can still go on.

Steven Torlina
Steven Torlina

All this talk of militarized zone is bullshit now they have sent the national guard in which is good the cops wearing camouflage arent military also cops don't want anyone around why they draw guns but also cops don't draw guns for no reason if you're doing the whole hands don't shoot bullshit more then likely you'll be arrested you donr need to go up to them stay your fucking ass home

Jon Todaro
Jon Todaro

Britney, no, they won't stop. But at least they won't be able to hide in the midst of the peaceful protestors, which is the major obstacle for the police, as they can't just arrest everyone when these clowns are hiding amongst the good people.

Britney Porter
Britney Porter

Do you think the idiots looting and being violent will stop just because protesters aren't there will stop? I don't. People with that kind of destructive mentality are going to cause harm no matter what. Ceasing all protesting wouldn't be fair to the people who just want their voice to be heard while respecting the police and other peoples property.

David Gilmore
David Gilmore

This is bull the people talking have there head up there ass. It's a about time the gaurd went in . It will cost 4 million for just qt. if the protesters were that scared they would stay home . And let the police take care of the looters. Then later go back out and protest.

Mike Bournstein
Mike Bournstein

In fact, you might end up dead. That is not what we want our children to think of police. We have to look WAYYYY back to understand what is going on here. Way back to the Civil War.

Christine Hagan
Christine Hagan

Bull they can't behave they PROVED THAT ALREADY! It's done! Fking go home pray I'm sure God is the ONLY WAY stupid people!

Tom Horak
Tom Horak

I lived in St Louis. Big city bull. Po black child. Teach them rite frm wrong.

Nikki Waters
Nikki Waters

They should be allowed to protest, but perhaps not congregate in larger groups with aggressors. Sit in?

Stephanie Thorsten
Stephanie Thorsten

They're teaching their children hatred towards LEO, instead of teaching them how not to behave, what happens when they choose to be disrespectful to others/property and how to respect themselves AND authority, including their parents.

Steve Horak
Steve Horak

drop them sorry ass bitches where they stand. Let God sort them out. They are nothing but terrorists.

Christine Hagan
Christine Hagan

U don't need protest you need God! Fking go home teach your kids an family to be RESPECTFUL!

Theirry Less
Theirry Less

Wtf .. people are bringing their kids?! Omfg. Get real!! No child should be involved in this!

edetheresa
edetheresa

The fact that you believe the 'majority of these people" who commit those crimes, is what makes you a racist.  Not just a racist, but an ignorant and uneducated jerk as well.  "I wish our ancestors would have left these people in Africa"  God just admit your a white robe wearing, cross burning racist and forget trying to pretend that you're not.


sybil10
sybil10

The parents should be arrested for child endangerment.  Reminds me of the terrorist group Hamas using their children as shields.

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

This is probably not going to happen, the more evidence that comes out the more it looks like the 'gentle giant' brought this entire unfortunate incident upon himself by some idiotic behavior. The thing that gets me though is how many of the folks with their irrational 'fuck tha poleece' attitude continue to twist and create a whole new narrative out of the thin air to support what they want to believe. It doesn't matter to these people what happened, it doesn't matter what the evidence shows, it was 'that cop was a raciss murderer and we finna stay in this street and break shit until yall change your mind and throws him in jail!'. Which is probably not going to happen. Long rocky road ahead and Ferguson as a community is going to have a whole lot of homes go up for sale once the dust clears and we'll have another broken community in north county.

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