Police to Ferguson Bystanders: "You Are in the Middle of a War Zone"

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Danny Wicentowski
Welcome to Ferguson.
The heavily armed police officer in riot gear was not amused.

"You guys are in the middle of a war zone," he told Daily RFT. We -- along with two other journalists and two Ferguson residents -- had just emerged from a wall of shrubbery 50 feet away from the officer, who stood watch with several other heavily-armed cops in a grassy lot overlooking the beleaguered suburb. We had crept into the restricted area through a hole in a fence and down a muddy path. He ordered us to leave.

"You guys gotta realize that if you guys get your butts in a jam, we can't come get you. You guys are going to have to roll out."

The officer may not have realized the irony of his statement. Last night, scores of Ferguson and north county residents encountered an aggravating "jam" of their own, one caused by police blockades at major intersections and a highway exit. Many found themselves trapped in an aimless search for an unobstructed route home.

See also:
- Police in Ferguson Fire Tear Gas on Protesters Standing in Their Own Backyard
- Volunteers Clean Up at Ferguson QuikTrip, Get Yelled At for "Helping the White Man"

Police and SWAT forces were out in force in Ferguson last night, and they used armored vehicles, rubber bullets and tear gas to clear groups of protesters and pedestrians from roads, parking lots and, occasionally, residents' own backyards.

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Danny Wicentowski
Police move south after clearing a stretch of West Florissant Avenue Monday night.
But it wasn't just the heavy weaponry and drifting clouds of gas that made Ferguson, as the not-amused officer put it, look like a "war-zone": Police used flares and vehicles to block the Interstate 70 exit to Lucas Hunt Road, cutting off the easiest southern access to Ferguson.

A phalanx of police vehicles also blocked the intersection of Ferguson and Florissant Avenues. Officers turned back all motorized and pedestrian traffic with blinding hi-beams and shouted orders, but that included residents of nearby apartments.

"Why the fuck do they got our apartment complex blocked off?" one woman shouted as she pulled a hard U-turn and sped back the way she came. There are no other street routes into the complex.

Another major area of police attention last night was the stretch West Florissant Avenue south of Chambers Road. Around 10 p.m., police responded to a group of protesters holding signs and chanting by pushing north on the street with an armored personnel carrier. Officers ran alongside carrying tear gas launchers. A few of the protesters threw rocks at the police before retreating.

After clearing the street, police set up another blockade near the intersection of Nesbit Drive. Only residents with an ID showing an address in southern Ferguson were allowed to pass, but not all drivers have their current address listed on their license. Daily RFT watched as police turned away a woman who said she lived on the other side of the checkpoint because her licence didn't show the right address. Officers manning the checkpoint refused to let anyone (including the media) pass.

Many of the Ferguson's suburban streets curve into cul-de-sacs, and no instruction was given to drivers as what routes were still open. We're trying to confirm which (if any) of these blockades are still up, or if more will be set up tonight. We'll update this story when we know more.

For background on the chaos in Ferguson and the slaying of 18-year-old Michael Brown, check out RFT's previous coverage.

Update 3:30 p.m..: St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman tells Daily RFT that all the roadblocks in Ferguson have been removed. Still, it's possible that police will target other streets, exits and intersections depending how the situation plays out tonight.

"We put [roadblocks] up because of the intelligence that's gathered," says Schellman. "If that happens tonight we'll try to get those locations out to the media."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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100 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


11 days ago

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markie1918 hours ago


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John Imboden
John Imboden

Neo nazis in Florida as protection as well for that half white that shot that kid...

John Imboden
John Imboden

Hitler much Glenda? They just have a different lable... Fema camps. So your rights are the only that should apply... Sounds like a cops whore to me. Classist cunt!

the.darrow.lawfirm
the.darrow.lawfirm

Ferguson PD, you are right.... it is a war zone....and you fired the first shot. War it is.

Glenda McGarvey Anderson
Glenda McGarvey Anderson

Break the law pay the price...I for one am hoping they use some of these so called FEMA camps too get these big mouth activists off our streets. There are always going to be race riots when people behave uncivilized.

Stan Panish
Stan Panish

Sure that thing couldn't do crap in Iraq but her its free to crush who or what ever must be a lot of hard-ons there

Thaddeus J McLendon
Thaddeus J McLendon

What u see is only a piece of what going on. Kkk protecting the police against multiple races. Is that normal?

John Imboden
John Imboden

Next time, just surround the police stations! By the thousands! Peacefully if their counter actions allow... Lol. But do it to make them prisoners in their own damn jails!

John Imboden
John Imboden

Took way too long for peaceful protest in Dr. MLK days. And state has merged with corporation big time these days! So attacking corporate empire outlets was actually a statement never heard by political hobbyists! And politics is a classist game!

Cest Lavie Boheme
Cest Lavie Boheme

And, let's not forget that the police use anything like this to round up the "usual suspects". People are angry, and when they are angry they do stupid s**t. No one listens until private property is threatened.

Shane Tweezy
Shane Tweezy

It has always been a war. Civilians just didn't realize they were the targets

Cest Lavie Boheme
Cest Lavie Boheme

PS I live in Riverview. I ride the bus through NorthSide anytime I want to shop somewhere that isn't a Quicktrip, Aldi's or Family Dollar.

Cest Lavie Boheme
Cest Lavie Boheme

If those businesses had been working to make their community safe for their customers this wouldn't have happened. QuikTrip is not a community grocery store. It's franchise chain that gets tax incentives and public money for "business development." And do you think this murder would be getting any play at all without the looting? There is a Michael Brown being shot down by the Gang Police once a month and what every happens?

Cest Lavie Boheme
Cest Lavie Boheme

Yes, we are in a war zone in North St. Louis. Armed thugs with the power to shoot you, investigate you, detain you, and sieze your assets are riding around in military vehicles, looking for an opportunity to shoot every Michael Brown whether he is walking on the sidewalk or not. They let Brown's body lie in the street for hours because it was a "crime scene" yet they allowed the officer to drive off in his vehicle even though it too was part of the crime scene IF they are telling the truth that a gun was fired in the vehicle. Gang Police is a death threat to us all.

Carrie Daugherty
Carrie Daugherty

yes the station burned but most of the things being done are not by people who live in the neighborhood

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

"what you see on the news is NOT a true representation of Ferguson." so they DIDN'T burn down a gas station?

Sam Beckring
Sam Beckring

When was the last time you saw people burning and ransacking buildings in Wildwood?

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

I'd love to see what the reaction would be if police did this in Ladue, Wildwood or Chesterfield... even if just to disperse a crowd of kids at a house party. Love to see the reaction from those communities.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

There is multiple video. Even a reporter from outside from StL was hit in leg with rubber bullet. If you watch the videos, you can't deny what happened. It's up to you if you want to change your mind given the facts.

Sam Beckring
Sam Beckring

I hope they drop a nuke on all of Ferguson, Florissant, Jennings, Normandy, etc. Decent people abandoned those shit holes once the rats took over. No harm, no foul for a B52 or F18 strike.. or 12.

Andrea Hilliard
Andrea Hilliard

Wow, looks like the Klan is doing just fine these days...

James Thomas Beckring Jr.
James Thomas Beckring Jr.

I hope more happens tonight. I enjoy the news in the morning before I go to work. Its better then netflix or red box.

Craig Boyer
Craig Boyer

Good thing everyone just got those nice armored vehicles. ..

Brian Burbank
Brian Burbank

So if the people aren't doing anything other exercising there freedom of speech, let's say in their own back yard, why are guns being aimed at those people and tear gas being deployed? Wow, more garbage cops arise...go after the looters

Vicky Shinnick Daniels
Vicky Shinnick Daniels

Jake I agree with you. The police were trying to stop another riot of mass proportions such as what happened sunday night. They had to do what they had to do. They told people to disperse and they chose to stay. Sunday night the police were overwhelmed with the violent destruction so Monday they chose to head it off before it could get out of hand again.

Sean Bryant
Sean Bryant

Apparently, if anybody knows anything about war zones it would be the Ferguson Police...

Evin Isar
Evin Isar

Both Sides need to be Armed for Warfare,those are Citizens Standing Up for Solidarity,just like France;U.K.;and Brazilian's who take A Stand against Militarization

Theo Mayes
Theo Mayes

I remember living through the 1992 LA riots. Having grown up in Ferguson - Florissant area these events make me ashamed to be from North County & America. People in a civilised society don't misbehave this way. Sadly this also reminds me why I left my homeland to live in a more evolved Europe. The eyes of the media and the world are upon us. Lets not show the world the ugliness of the USA we are not barbarians from a third world nation. Our country has become more violent in the 20 years since I immigrated hopefully it won't continue on this path. We don't have to live this way. My thoughts of peace go out to the members Brown family and citizens of Ferguson, MO

Dierdre Lockette
Dierdre Lockette

The majority of businesses, including Zisser tire are not leaving.

Dierdre Lockette
Dierdre Lockette

No if you had watched Fox 2, even after the streets were clear, they were aiming guns at people in their backyards and firing tear gas at them. Once again, your opinion doesn't mesh.

Erik Olsen
Erik Olsen

Just hope I don't have to run any roadblocks to get home.

Dierdre Lockette
Dierdre Lockette

@Jake VonderBruegge these police were out in riot gear with dogs and assault rifles right after the shooting on Saturday and during the vigils on Sunday. The riots happened Sunday night. So your opinion doesn't really mesh with the chain of events.

Jake VonderBruegge
Jake VonderBruegge

The police officers weren't "shooting tear gas into backyards of people that don't have anything to do with anything..." Are you just that dense? Do you know how "gas" works? The officers let off tear gas in the street at the protesters who wouldn't disperse. The gas floated into a few backyards nearby (fault of the wind? I guess the wind is part of this "system" too). Which, if those residents weren't outside shouting at the police along with the other protestors, they would have been perfectly fine. Get your facts straight before you hop on your dipshit high-horse defining just what is "UnAmerican." What is in fact UnAmerican is looting businesses behind a mask of "injustice" only to serve their own personal gain.

Mitra Murphy
Mitra Murphy

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! UNARMED CITIZENS IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD!!!!!!!

Thaddeus J McLendon
Thaddeus J McLendon

Don fuck that the law needs to respect the citizens we pay their bills. We dont even kno if he did anything nothing was found on him

Thaddeus J McLendon
Thaddeus J McLendon

They wont because they releasing the cops name the FBI say but fear of violence has them complying

Jerad Ray
Jerad Ray

lets be honest nothing would ever happen out there because those places are loaded with PUSSIES!

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

I thought weapons of war had no business on our streets.. Obama said so.

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Hey don, it still doesn't warrant a death sentence

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Mitra Murphy watch the video in this article

Don Lankford
Don Lankford

if the kid obeyed the LAW none of this would have happened..

BlackboardJungle
BlackboardJungle

Um, I just saw video of this occur, so Jake, you are late to the 'party'. Get YOUR facts straight, big mouth.

Bianca
Bianca

Are you serious? Wow. How about if that officer didn't shoot him dead this wouldn't have happened? He was walking down the middle of the road. I've done that many times because there are barely any sidewalks in the county. Guess I have to watch out for cops that might shoot me several times to kill me all because I don't want to walk on a sidewalk. You seem to have no value for human life. And I can guess from your comment, you probably like Fox news and think reverse racism exists. 

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