Ferguson Residents Try to Make Do Living in a War Zone of Tear Gas, Explosions

Photo by Danny Wicentowski
Tear gas wafts over West Florissant Avenue Sunday night
Brittany Townsend sat on her front stoop Sunday around 10 p.m. with a weary look on her face. An hour earlier police on nearby West Florissant Avenue began shooting tear gas at protesters in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Now the noxious fumes had drifted into her yard as they have nearly each night since demonstrators in Ferguson began protesting the police shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown.

"It's not been easy living here," said Townsend, who's home on Lang Drive back up to the Public Storage on West Florissant. "I have a two-year-old daughter, and to throw tear gas down a residential street in front of my house, in the back of my house, past my house is not right."

Townsend's complaint is echoed by other nearby residents whose lives and comfort have been upended by the nightly sting of tear gas in the air and chaos occurring just a block or two away.

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Mya Aaten-White, Ferguson Shooting Victim, Says Police Have Not Interviewed Her

Courtesy of Mya Aaten-White
A selfie Mya Aaten-White took in the ambulance on August 12, 2014.

Here's what Mya Aaten-White remembers from the night of August 12: It was about 11 p.m. She was walking back to her car on Highmont Drive near the burned-out QuikTrip after attending a Mike Brown rally in Ferguson. There were a few people in front of her. Suddenly, shots rang out. Everyone dropped to the ground and covered their heads. When she sat up, Aaten-White knew something was wrong.

"Oh my God, you're shot in the head," she recalls a young man telling her.

Several young men carried her into a nearby house where the residents called 911. She says police officers -- she believes they were St. Louis County police -- interviewed her briefly before she was taken to the hospital. She was able to take the above photo in the ambulance and upload it to Instagram. It went viral.

Now, a little over a week later, Aaten-White wants to know why no one in law enforcement has followed up with her about her case. Stranger still, she says, she doesn't know what happened to the bullet that doctors removed from her skull.

"Someone has the bullet. Someone has the bullet, and it was an officer," says her attorney, Marwan Porter.

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PHOTOS: Police Restraint Tested in Ferguson Monday Night

Categories: Michael Brown

All photos by Danny Wicentowski
Police appeared committed to nonviolent responses Monday night.
Ferguson residents are getting used to the clinging aroma of tear gas every morning.

On Monday night law enforcement launched volley after volley of tear-gas canisters at Canfield Drive, West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates Drive -- not to mention rubber bullets and the expected variety of flash-bang grenades, pepper bombs and smoke. Add in two people shot, 31 arrests and numerous journalists detained, and you've got another thoroughly awful night in Ferguson.

However, Daily RFT observed police officers willfully ignoring countless taunts and minor threats. Even not so minor threats, like thrown glass bottles and rocks, failed to set off police reprisals as they did during prior confrontations.

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Amnesty International: "A Human-Rights Crisis" in Ferguson

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
Amnesty International out in Florissant last night.

Ten Amnesty International staffers were out observing last night's march in Ferguson, including executive director Steven Hawkins, who's in town from New York City. When Daily RFT caught up with him in the media staging area, he did not mince words about what he was seeing.

"This is a human-rights crisis in America," he said, calling the fact that marchers were not being allowed to congregate a "violation of international human rights" law.

Hawkins said he asked Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson if Amnesty International observers could patrol alongside police and was denied. His organization is preparing to make recommendations on how the situation can be better handled and to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to broaden his federal investigation to include the tactics being used by local law enforcement on demonstrators in Ferguson.

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After Forcing Ferguson Protesters to March in Confined Protest Area, Tear Gas Again

Categories: Michael Brown

Ray Downs
Protesters Monday night.
It started out as a day of walking and ended up a night of gas, gunshots and a protester who came back to the scene just to pick up the trash left by his fellow protesters.

"Keep moving!" barked a police officer at a protester who stopped on the street to talk to a friend.

That was the rule Monday afternoon: Keep moving, and you can protest. Stop, and you'd be subject to arrest. For most of the day, protesters marched back and forth on the West Florissant sidewalk between Canfield Drive and Ferguson Avenue. They weren't allowed to go any further. And walking into the street could mean a night in jail.

Not everybody appreciated the rules, especially in the August heat. As the day went on, protesters complained about the restrictions on the protest set forth by police.

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Why Michael Brown's Legal Team Is Winning the PR War as Prosecutor, Accused Cop Sit Out

Categories: Michael Brown

Jessica Lussenhop
The parents of Michael Brown (center) with attorney Benjamin Crump (right) at a news conference last week.
As they've done on multiple occasions throughout the past week, the attorneys representing the family of Michael Brown held a televised news conference yesterday. And this one revealed a bigger bombshell than most.

Standing at a podium alongside an independent medical examiner retained by the family, attorney Benjamin Crump divulged that the eighteen-year-old Brown had been shot at least six times, with the fatal blow entering the top of his skull.

"It verifies the worst that the family thinks happened -- that he was executed," Crump told reporters.

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Holocaust Survivor Arrested at Non-Violent Michael Brown Assembly Downtown

Categories: Michael Brown

@dylanbrady | Twitter
Hedy Epstein, center, is arrested outside the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis on August 18.

Hedy Epstein knows a thing or two about human rights. As a Holocaust survivor, German-born Epstein has seen her share of abuse and oppression. After all, the Nazis didn't care much for the civil liberties of Jews or for anyone who wasn't of the Aryan race.

Epstein's experience is why she eventually immigrated to the United States, where she has been an outspoken activist for affordable housing, anti-war and pro-choice issues. The St. Louis resident, who was born in 1924, even founded the local chapter of Women in Black, a group that began as a response to Israel's occupation and has broadened to become anti-war in general.

With that kind of résumé, it's no surprise that Epstein wanted to voice her opinion about Michael Brown's death and the handling of the investigation. But what's surprising to many is that Epstein would be taken into custody while doing so.

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Live Blog: 31 Arrested, 2 Shot, Police Under Attack in Ferguson

Categories: Michael Brown

Danny Wicentowski
Police clear the streets after shots are fired.
Another long night begins.

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.

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The Ferguson Effect: Wehrenberg Theaters Pulls Documentary About Race in St. Louis County

Categories: Michael Brown

Spanish Lake
A scene from the documentary Spanish Lake.
With violence erupting in Ferguson night after night, right now might be the perfect time to watch Phillip Andrew Morton's new movie Spanish Lake.

The documentary chronicles the racial tensions and federal decisions that drove white residents out of the unincorporated north St. Louis County township Spanish Lake, just eight miles from Ferguson.

But if you're in St. Louis and hoping to watch Spanish Lake on the big screen, you're out of luck. Wehrenberg Theaters, a local movie-theater chain, says it's pulling the movie before it has even been widely released.

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Ferguson Residents React to Dellwood Market Looting, Militarized Police Presence

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.

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