Live Blog: 31 Arrested, 2 Shot, Police Under Attack in Ferguson
After two nights under a state-mandated curfew failed to quell escalating violence in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb prepared Monday for a night without a curfew under the watchful gaze of the newest security force on the scene, the National Guard.
The atmosphere in Ferguson has already become a tense one, with protesters and journalists arrested. Clearly, police are strictly enforcing rules against gathering in certain areas, including a blanket ban on standing in demonstration on West Florissant Avenue.
As Ferguson prepares for its first night this week without a curfew, we'll be live updating this Daily RFT blog post with news from the scene and dispatches from our reporters on the ground. Check back with us throughout the night for the latest.
See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson.
3 a.m. - OK, folks, that's all we have. Check back in the morning for our story on the Holocaust survivor arrested at a Michael Brown rally in Ferguson and more coverage of this awful, awful night. Take care of yourselves, St. Louis.
2:21 a.m. - Press conference is starting. Our reporters are safely back at the office.
Police arrested 31 people -- some from as far away as New York and California -- that Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, Ferguson's police security leader, called "violent agitators" using peaceful protests as cover. Two men were shot.
Johnson said police came under heavy gunfire at the Canfield Green Apartments. Police confiscated two guns from a car with its windows down parked across from the media staging area. Despite being fired on, police did not discharge weapons, Johnson said.
Johnson made an emotional, nearly tearful plea to journalists not to glamorize violence or interfere with police operations.
"We can't have this," he told reporters. "We do not want to lose another life in this community."
If we're going to solve this, we're going to have to do this together. pic.twitter.com/YOEeq4YdZQ— FOX2now (@FOX2now) August 19, 2014
Johnson said trouble began around 9:40 p.m., when a loud, non-aggressive group of protesters walked up to the police line. This had been happening all night as demonstrators weren't allowed to stop walking on West Ferguson Avenue, the main drag of late-night violence, but this time was different. The crowd grew large and unruly, and people in the middle and back of the crowd began throwing bottles.
Then came the gunshots. Then the rescue mission, when police sent a SWAT vehicle down West Florissant Avenue to clear the crowd and retrieve gunshot wound victims. Two fires were reported, in a business and in an empty home. And at the Canfield Green Apartments, "our officers came under heavy gunfire," Johnson said.
A step behind police and gunmen alike were journalists -- some with credentials, some without, some working for international outlets, some volunteers with an ambitious livestream -- racing for the best shot. Johnson did not apologize for detaining journalists, saying officers released them immediately once their credentials are verified.
"We do take some of you into custody," Johnson said. "In the midst of chaos, trying to move people up, we have to be safe. We have to be safe."
St. Louis County police tweeted photos of the items confiscated:
Guns seized tonight by police pic.twitter.com/RU4XEfcOEq— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 19, 2014
Molotov cocktail seized by police pic.twitter.com/4sR7jRsGEJ— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 19, 2014
1:55 a.m. - Ryan Deveraux, journalist for The Intercept, was detained:
Here are his last tweets, sent as others (see below) reported tear gas and rubber bullets at West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates:
Police are driving through a residential neighbor, a side street off Florissant, with an APC shooting gas canisters— Ryan Devereaux (@rdevro) August 19, 2014
Rounds keep going off, we took cover in a yard— Ryan Devereaux (@rdevro) August 19, 2014
So much smoke in this neighborhood right now, seems like the police succeeded in clearing out the rest of the demonstrators— Ryan Devereaux (@rdevro) August 19, 2014
1:23 a.m. - A harrowing account from the Belleville News Democrat at West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates:
Police just shot at least three tear gas canisters at me. One hit my leg, one my backpack. #Ferguson— Jacqueline Lee (@BNDJLee) August 19, 2014
We held up media credentials. They drove into parking lot of private apartment complex and shot tear gas in circle, 10ft from us. #Ferguson— Jacqueline Lee (@BNDJLee) August 19, 2014
They circled us, shot tear gas. We're in bushes. Street we needed to get to car was blocked off by officers in armed vehicles. #Ferguson— Jacqueline Lee (@BNDJLee) August 19, 2014
1:10 a.m. - More. News of tear gas and rubber bullets is coming from people who've been tweeting from the scene for the last nine days.
I just heard a huge bang. I don't know what that was. #Ferguson— Patricia Bynes (@Patricialicious) August 19, 2014
They're firing rubber bullets #Ferguson— ShordeeDooWhop (@Nettaaaaaaaa) August 19, 2014
Police held back from gassing protesters tonight, except at Canfield Drive and West Florissant Avenue, says Antonio French.
That's for the area where the protesters are. Now for the fighters down by Canfield, they are definitely using gas and lots of it.— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 19, 2014
"They just tear gassed a whole neighborhood:"
"People are getting rubber bullet-ed, this is not OK:"
They detained 2 foreign journalists who IDed themselves as journalists. Officer said, "You know you should have left a long time ago."— Patricia Bynes (@Patricialicious) August 19, 2014
12:55 a.m. - Police say we'll have to wait an hour for a press conference, which is frustrating because media aren't allowed out of central command right now.
A few reports are trickling out:
"If you sit down in the road way, you make it easier for us to arrest you" - Police to this crowd. They start sitting in the street— Patricia Bynes (@Patricialicious) August 19, 2014
Capt. Johnson just said two protesters were shot with live fire from the "protest side."— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) August 19, 2014
Capt. Johnson confirms tear gas was used tonight on protesters after first deploying smoke bombs— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 19, 2014
I'm at the #Ferguson apartments behind the QuikTrip. I do see orange flames, smoke but it's unclear what is burning.— Jacqueline Lee (@BNDJLee) August 19, 2014
12:34 a.m. - Amnesty International is not happy that no one is witnessing the fighting that police say is going on now at Canfield Drive and West Florissant Avenue.
US can't tell other countries to improve their records on policing and peaceful assembly if it won't clean up its own human rights record— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) August 19, 2014
12:20 a.m. - Blockades are making it difficult for anyone to move around out here. Press are unable to reach their cars.
There are ppl who get off late at night. They walk & take public transp. Just because this isn't YOUR life doesn't mean they are wrong.— Patricia Bynes (@Patricialicious) August 19, 2014
Back at my car. With police barricades in place I don't think I can get out of here— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 19, 2014
Entire neighborhood encased with barriers. No way out without driving through someone's lawn pic.twitter.com/UMU1oZbChe— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 19, 2014
Police are keeping media from accessing West Florissant Avenue by Canfield Drive. Antonio French says there's a good reason why:
The guys police are battling right now on Canfield are the fighters I described earlier. Reporters, you don't want to be over there now.— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 19, 2014
This hero is holding it down strong:
12:06 a.m. - Journalists are being shepherded down to the command center, away from any action. More demonstrators are being arrested.
Well, the police are evacuating the area. All this makes no sense. #Ferguson— Ray Downs (@RayDowns) August 19, 2014
I haven't seen any national guard troops, just cops. Tense, pissed off cops. #Ferguson— Danny Wicentowski (@D_Towski) August 19, 2014
Officers shining spotlights, lighting us up with helicopter lights. No one allowed to approach Canfield— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 19, 2014
There will be a press conference shortly at the command center.
Continue reading for more updates.