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Peaceful Crowd of Protesters Dispersed By Heavily Militarized Police Force In Ferguson

Categories: Michael Brown

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Danny Wicentowski
An officer on the scene in Ferguson peers down the scope of his rifle at an unarmed, peaceful crowd.
An initial pass down Ferguson's West Florissant Road on Tuesday night, at approximately 6:30 p.m., saw the area in a state of relative calm. Stationed at the burned-out Quiktrip located on the 9400 block was a gathering of 80 to 100 protesters, holding signs and encouraging passing cars to honk their horns in response to the now-familiar chanted refrain of "Hands up! Don't shoot!". The activists would then smile in encouragement when drivers complied, as multiple demonstrators handed out bottles of water to the thirsty people on the scene. The overall feeling was one of peaceful determination and a resolute desire for justice.

Then, the police showed up.

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Danny Wicentowski
Police arrive at the site of the protests.
At approximately 6:45 p.m., St. Louis County police vehicles arrived on the scene and officers began to form a line in the center of the street, facing the throng. As they took formation, the mood began to shift.

See also: Police in Ferguson Fire Tear Gas at Residents in Their Back Yard

"What is your purpose here?" a woman shouted through a bullhorn. "What is your jurisdiction? Identify yourselves, please." Outfitted with riot protection helmets and armed primarily with batons and shields, the officers offered no response.


Protesters question the police about their names and jurisdictions in the absence of identification. (All videos by Daniel Hill for RFT.)

DeAndre Perryman, a season four American Idol finalist who was at the scene, approached Riverfront Times and pointed at the line. "The police are not wearing nametags," he said. "They don't want us to identify them, just like they won't identify the killer." As he spoke, a woman walked past, ominously advising all in attendance to "pull your masks up now."

"We've been keeping it positive out here," Perryman continued. "There's no rioting, no looting. It was like this last night too. Every time the police show up, that's when things get frustrating."

As the county officers blocked the southbound lanes of West Florissant at Northwinds Estates Drive, directing traffic to turn around and head back north, two armored vehicles approached from the south. By this time the "Hands up; don't shoot" refrain was getting louder, as the protesters stood steadfast on their side of the street. Occupants in redirected cars shouted "fuck the police" and "no justice, no peace" as they passed, and demonstrators increasingly began to cover their faces with T-shirts and other makeshift masks.


The county police force is replaced by heavily-armored officers carrying assault rifles.

Just before 7 p.m. the line of baton-toting county patrolmen got into their cars and left as officers equipped with M4 carbine rifles took their place, wearing camouflage pants and vests loaded with extra magazines over their body armor. The armored vehicles, equipped with sound cannons, remained parked in the street just south of the Quiktrip. Lying prone on top of one of them, an officer peered down the scope of his rifle, which he had trained directly at the crowd.

See also: Michael Brown's Family "Rejects" Police Narrative

Within only 30 minutes, and without any violence or crime committed by those assembled, the scene in Ferguson had moved from peaceful protest to occupied territory.

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Danny Wicentowski
A line of police officers positioned just south of the burned-out Ferguson Quiktrip.
A woman forced to turn around at the blocked street stopped and addressed a nearby cameraman who was working with one of the local news stations. "They're walking all over our rights!" she exclaimed in frustration. "This isn't Iraq. This is America."

Angrily, she continued, "And ya'll don't report on it. I want to see this on the news tonight!"

As tensions continued to rise, that apparent dissatisfaction with the media hit close to home when one protester addressed Riverfront Times directly. "We don't want you here," she said, catching me scribbling on a notepad. "You are not welcome. Your service is done."

Another woman walked up and down the line of demonstrators, asking that everyone step out of the street. "They can't make us leave if we're on the sidewalk," she explained. Within minutes, however, the crowd dispersed at the insistence of the now heavily militarized force, which had increased greatly in numbers and moved to a position south of the Quiktrip, in front of the armored trucks. The assembly began walking in a group to the Christ the King United Church of Christ on nearby Old Halls Ferry Road, where the Reverend Al Sharpton and members of Mike Brown's family would speak.


The protesters leave the scene at the behest of the police.

"We outsmarted them," said one protester, who asked not to be named. "They wanted us to act up. This is how it started yesterday, when they showed up with tear gas. The police are the ones causing the problems."

"But they are not going to get what they want," she continued. "We're too smart."

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Danny Wicentowski
"Hands up; don't shoot!"

Read RFT's complete coverage of the killing of Michael Brown and the unrest in Ferguson.

Follow the author on Twitter at @fatrobocop.


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202 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


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izombie247
izombie247

Peaceful protesting doesn't work any more. Even though this is suppose to be our right to peacefully assemble the cops don't seem to care any more. Every peaceful assembly I've seen in the past few years has been shut down. Google it, it's all over the place. Not to mention the cops drove over the memorial flowers and showed up with riot gear and Nazi k9's. Some times burning shit down is the only thing left to do and it WORKED.. It got the attention of the entire world and now every one is watching what happens. The militarized police state is finally getting attention!! I say mission accomplished.

Sam Collins
Sam Collins

Maybe it gets that way because those "peaceful" protesters hold signs that say "murder the police"?

James Hardesty
James Hardesty

Cause the black on black crime happens all the time and this involved a white guy... Oh wait a white cop

Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown

Molotov cocktails seem pretty peaceful to me...

AliMay
AliMay

This is the gas station that rioters burned down prior to this protest. Rioters also looted, vandalized, and destroyed some parts of the area and carried assault riffles freely down the street. You really think after all that the police aren't going to show up overly prepared for the worst? Use common sense! They didn't stop the protest, they were doing there jobs. Why was this the chosen spot for the protest anyways?

Jennifer Mc Clusky Williams
Jennifer Mc Clusky Williams

So my truth and your truth are conflicting truths. I've been blocked trying to drive through the area by non leo's and no leo's in sight. Being taunted and people slapping my van. Different experiences. Not that one is true and one is a lie, but generalizing one truth over the whole situation when it doesn't apply to the whole does make it a misrepresentation of fact.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

you must have missed the video were they burned down a gas station. you are in liberal denial if don't think these are the same people. the pollice HAVE to be there.

Michael Joseph
Michael Joseph

I'm sure it's been mentioned above, but I'll reiterate: peaceful protestors don't shoot at police and throw stones and Molotov cocktails...

Luis Cook
Luis Cook

It is clear to me why this alleged newspaper is free. guess we get what we pay for in reporting. I wouldn't line my birdcage with RFT - River Front Trash. We should support our law enforcement officers. They to have families. Common thieves and vandals like we have seen for 3 days should all be in jail. Shame on you for not supporting police.

Zach Treacy
Zach Treacy

Black on black crime happens every day blacks killing Whites y the fuck dont u get over Ur selves n move on!!!!!

Thea Strassburg
Thea Strassburg

St. Louis is not on fire. We are a city of almost 3 million people and a few hundred are stealing shoes. We are also coming together and talking. Having discussions that need to be had. We are all of equal value.

Roy Johnson
Roy Johnson

The address where all of their reporting style is coming from.

Roy Johnson
Roy Johnson

6358 Delmar Blvd, St Louis, MO 63130 Riverfront Times, Address

Candice Lanton
Candice Lanton

They can protest whenever the hell they want to. Y'all just want us to 'get over it' again and go home. Well guess what MF'ers.....WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT ANYMORE!! We love our boys just as much as you love yours...you better get ready

Jasmine Elaina JazzyFah Robinson
Jasmine Elaina JazzyFah Robinson

There was shooting, but it wasn't some random white person getting shot at, they were overall shooting, not chasing a race because I know someone who actually got shot. But not everyone in this is being peaceful

Jasmine Elaina JazzyFah Robinson
Jasmine Elaina JazzyFah Robinson

Those were protesters from day one, blocking minimal traffic though. I drive by there everyday to get home, they hold signs and chant a bit, nothing harmful, go there yourself and know the truth.

Joel Kretzmann
Joel Kretzmann

commerce must go one. @Melissa it is just a headliner

Erik Olsen
Erik Olsen

I'm just a few blocks away from all this. There are always more PMC-looking cops near those who are on their knees with their empty hands up than where things are being broken into.0

Scott Parkinson
Scott Parkinson

If there were no police presence refer back to Monday night, mayhem would ensue.

Jami Taylor-Kempel
Jami Taylor-Kempel

So how come your not reporting the black on black crime happening during the looting and peaceful protests.

izombie247
izombie247

This is for all the people saying their stupid for tearing up their own city. It's because peaceful protesting doesn't work any more. Even though this is suppose to be our right to peacefully assemble the cops don't seem to care any more. Every peaceful assembly I've seen in the past few years has been shut down. Not to mention the cops drove over the memorial flowers and showed up with riot gear and Nazi k9's the first time they tried. Some times burning shit down is the only thing left to do and it WORKED.. It got the attention of the entire world and now every one is watching what happens. The militarized police state is finally getting attention!! I say mission accomplished.

heppy
heppy

two nights ago i was hanging out on the riverfront when i was "approached" (not detained, pulled over, or any official stop by any means) by a police officer. i was someplace i probably shouldn't have been, doing something i definitely should not have been doing. my interaction with the police officer was limited to asking if i needed assistance to discussing the best place to watch a sunset over the mississippi.


i was white and the officer was white. but ever since that happened i have to wonder, if i were black, would i have been searched?


because if i had been searched, i may have gotten a ticket. or worse, if i had been searched and black, i may have gone to jail.


so, you know, next time you are pulled over for going 15 mph over the speed limit on I44 through fenton, and the officer smiles and asks you how your day is going and then lets you go with a warning, think about what it must be like to live in a neighborhood where statistically you are targeted by police.


i have never in my 30 years been afraid of the police. i cannot imagine what it is like to live in fear of the police, but it must be hell.

Sean Bahr
Sean Bahr

I love how RFT is quick to show pics of the cops "militarized" but refuses to talk about the carload of doods doing drivebys. this isn't an area where one protest is going on and everything else is just breezy. this a place where stores have been burned down, people have been shot, and gunfire has rang out for three nights. """CBS affiliate KMOV-TV in St. Louis reports that St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said officers responded to a report of four men wearing ski masks armed with shotguns a block or two east of Ferguson, as well as reports of shots fired in the area. TIMELINE: The Death Of Michael Brown and Unrest in Ferguson When they arrived, they found more than two dozen suspects fleeing on foot, Schellman said. At one point, an officer confronted a suspect who pulled a handgun on the officer, according to the police spokesman. “In fear for his life, the officer shot the subject,” Schellman continued. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition. The suspect’s handgun was recovered at the scene. Separately, said Schellman, one person was injured in a drive-by shooting in Ferguson early Wednesday. He said the incident involved several males in a black sedan, and a female was shot once in the head. He said she was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear life-threatening. Schellman said the shooting occurred in the same vicinity as the protests over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown."""" talk on that shit. I got news forya, if I'm a cop and i'm going in there....militarize my ass all day long.

Kyle Schuppan
Kyle Schuppan

Try being in the cops shoes. They can either be in hard gear ready to go at a moments notice 24/7 during any "gathering" violent or peaceful. Or they can just show up and mobilize when it's bad aka let looting and burning and guns going off for a few hours until they are mobilized. You wanna know why Sunday was the worst ? Because they weren't ready and mobilized. It takes time and resources. So based on previous experiences i. e. Sunday night. They are staying 100% ready until it's all over. You don't think they would get called horrible racists if they had to pick and choose the "violent" protestors from "peaceful". They are doing their best by staying withins lines of law , their and residents safety, and letting them protest. Neither side gets what they want 100%.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

yes... how DARE the police come by to keep those mindless asshats from burning down another gas station.

Sean Bahr
Sean Bahr

Well they didn't show up to any protests "hyper militarized" until buildings were burned and windows were shattered. wanna blame someone for the police presence? blame the rioters and the looters. they caused that. the police seemed to be pretty chill up until the violence started.

Amanda Counts
Amanda Counts

Yeah well the last time they all got together for just a peaceful protest they ended it with a riot.

Roberta Christos
Roberta Christos

As a citizen of Ferguson for all of my life and a homeowner here I am so thankful the police presence is there. When they gave the protesters some space on Sunday, look what they did. Went crazy! If they don't stay on top of it, who can say what they will do next. They are there to protect and serve the citizens of Ferguson. Quit thinking it's all about keeping the protesters down.

brianwittling
brianwittling

"There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people." - Cmdr William Adama, Battlestar Galactica. 


Or also when the police become a de-facto military - Brian Wittling 2014

Chris Richardson
Chris Richardson

You guys don't report the truth anyway, this is the problem with you mainstream media

Chris Richardson
Chris Richardson

It's still a crowd, why don't you people be real journalist and DO your jobs right! Damn mainstream media!

Reese1
Reese1

There needs to be a way to prosecute whoever the storm trooper is on top of the vehicle pointing the weapon at unarmed civilians in the USA - and I say this as a veteran.

Rob Skelton
Rob Skelton

The crowd in these videos remained nonviolent (just as previous nights' protests began before turning violent toward police and innocent bystanders) as reported; however, they were clearly blocking a lane of traffic in the first video while traffic was still being allowed through (which RT said they were not). Of course the police are going to be on high alert for these protests. This may not have been the same group as previous nights but they're at the same location protesting the same topic. No police ID? Damn right, not when such groups are advocating death to police officers. As soon as anyone criticizing police presence risks their life protecting the masses by being in such situations, I'll pay attention to their opinion.

Brad Crowder
Brad Crowder

You jump on j car when I'm trying to drive...you will be the victim. If people would stay home, cops would leave. Protesters = police. The ridiculous crap that's been happening, warrants them to protect the peace, safety of the people. Grow up.

shannonmorris04
shannonmorris04

Did you *read* the article?
Here, just reading the first paragraph should help clear up your confusion.

"An initial pass down Ferguson's West Florissant Road on Tuesday night, at approximately 6:30 p.m., saw the area in a state of relative calm. Stationed at the burned-out Quiktrip located on the 9400 block was a gathering of 80 to 100 protesters, holding signs and encouraging passing cars to honk their horns in response to the now-familiar chanted refrain of "Hands up! Don't shoot!". The activists would then smile in encouragement when drivers complied, as multiple demonstrators handed out bottles of water to the thirsty people on the scene. The overall feeling was one of peaceful determination and a resolute desire for justice.

Then, the police showed up."

clapandcough25
clapandcough25

"black on black crime" why isn't there a term "white on white crime?" ya know.. considering most people in a race and culture tend to commit crimes against their own..


ignorance,


clapandcough25
clapandcough25

are we in 1942 with this comment? you can go back to europe..

amorgan7261
amorgan7261

The only message the riots sent were Black people can't gather without chaos ensuing and maybe the stereotypes are true. Mission accomplished?

darsdoodles2
darsdoodles2

yes...and how DARE the people of Ferguson be upset over an unarmed teenager being shot in the back. He was shot in the back, turned around to face the cop with hands in the air saying he wasn't armed and to please stop shooting. The cop's answer was to walk closer and shoot him until he was dead. Really, the nerve of some people,.........sigh......

heppy
heppy

YEAH GROW UP!

NuggetoO
NuggetoO

@amorgan7261 Yep, no civilized person sees these riots as justified to bring about change. They see a bunch of animals taking advantage of the situation. Instead of trying to make these thugs out to be victims, and social justice heros they should be trying to separate themselves away from them as much as possible. 

Oh you were peacefully protesting and the cops started shooting tear gas at you? So that's what caused you to break the window of some guy's buisness and steal all his shit? Yea you sure showed those cops huh! 

heppy
heppy

@amorgan7261 well, that's the only message that YOU read out of the situation...

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