STL County Police Dispatcher Recalls Ferguson: "Some of the Craziest Stuff I've Ever Heard."

Categories: Ferguson, Police

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Danny Wicentowski
Rick Kranz will listen to your problems -- and send help.
There's a call coming in for Rick Kranz.

"911 St. Louis County. Location of your emergency?"

On the line is a hotel desk clerk. In a thick accent, she says a guest needs immediate medical attention. No, she doesn't know what the medical issue is. She only knows that the guest is a woman, she's in room 126 and needs an ambulance.

"Let me get the paramedics on the phone, do not hang up," says Kranz, a watch supervisor for the St. Louis County Police Department. He swivels in a towering leather office chair to face three computer monitors. In seconds, he hammers out a few keystrokes and routes the call through the fire department to reach emergency medical services, or EMS. As he listens to a paramedic question the hotel clerk, Kranz sends updates to a radio dispatcher sitting on the other side of this sprawling, cubicle-filled call center in the basement of county police headquarters in Clayton.

Barely one minute after taking the call, an officer confirms with Kranz that he's heading to the hotel to assist the paramedics. Kranz hangs up the phone.

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Someone is Stealing "Black Lives Matter" Signs From Churches and Homes

Categories: Ferguson

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Jessica Lussenhop
First Congregational United Church of Christ in Clayton.

When Reverend Mary Gene Boteler of Second Presbyterian Church first noticed that a small yard sign saying "Black Lives Matter" was missing from one of the church's green spaces, she had several thoughts. The first was that someone in the neighborhood hadn't agreed with the phrase's political sentiment -- "Black Lives Matter" has become an iconic message against police brutality, emblazoned on signs at marches around the country. The second was more optimistic -- someone had stolen it in order to put it up in his own yard.

But then she started hearing from other church leaders.

"As I hear others having their signs stolen, it seems it may be a concerted effort for folks to drive through areas and pick up the signs," she says. "A concerted effort by people to end the conversation."

The person who wrenched down the sign at First Congregational Church of St. Louis in Clayton had to put even more work into it -- theirs was tethered to a metal readerboard on the corner of Wydown and University Lane in Clayton.

"We do get mail complaining about the banner, saying 'Black Lives Matter is not saying all lives matter, so it's against Jesus,'" says Reverend Heather Arcovitch.

The third church that's been hit is First Unitarian Church of St. Louis on the corner of Waterman and Kingshighway. The signs began disappearing sometime last week.

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Ferguson City Council Will Consider Request for Permanent Michael Brown Memorial

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Jessica Lussenhop
The weather-worn memorial on Canfield Drive, November 11, 2014.

The spot in the street where Michael Brown died has become hallowed ground in the past eight months. A memorial there grew from a bunch of roses laid by his mother to a tall, narrow pile of stuffed animals, framed pictures, T-shirts, flowers and other trinkets. An even more massive memorial bloomed on a nearby lamp post.

Though it has attracted visitors from all over the world, some locals have grown weary of it.

"There's a lot of residents that are not happy with dodging a memorial in the middle of the street," says Ferguson mayor James Knowles. "We've had to try to plow around it in the winter months. We've had people, unfortunately, drive through them, whether it's purposeful or accidental. It creates a road hazard."

Last night, the issue was formally brought before the newly seated Ferguson City Council in the form of a letter from the Joint Council On Policy and Social Impact, requesting in conjunction with the Brown family that a permanent marker be laid and the current memorial cleared.

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Michael Brown Memorial Tree One of Two Destroyed in Ferguson

Categories: Crime, Ferguson

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Tony Rice aka @search4swag
The damaged Michael Brown memorial tree and the hole where a plaque once sat.
UPDATE: We've updated this story to include comments from a member of the Black Caucus' executive committee. See our update at the bottom of the post.

Original story follows....

On Saturday, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association dedicated a memorial in January-Wabash Park in Ferguson honoring Michael Brown.

By Sunday, the memorial had already been destroyed -- the tree planted in Brown's honor damaged, and the stone memorial missing, KMOV (CHannel 4) reports.

As it turns out, however, two trees at the January-Wabash Park were damaged this weekend, and now two plaques are missing, says activist Tony Rice, who visited the site this morning. The tree featured in the KMOV report that was completely destroyed was dedicated to someone else -- the Michael Brown tree was damaged but still has some leafy green leaves on top.

However, both trees are missing their plaques. Brown's had said simply, "In Memory of Michael Brown Jr. Dedicated tree 4/15."

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Former St. Louis Cop: "Police Don't Care What Your Rights Are" During Protests

Categories: Ferguson, Police

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Danny Wicentowski
Terrell Carter.
The words were chanted in the streets of Ferguson, blasted from car stereo systems and graffitied on the plywood panels covering store windows: "Fuck the police."

Yet amid the police shootings, mass demonstrations and intense media coverage of the past eight months, we've rarely had the chance to hear from officers on the ground, those men and women who stood silently on picket lines as protesters hurled invective and insults. Daily RFT's attempts to interview officers directly were repeatedly rebuffed. Occasionally, police chiefs and public relations officials updated reporters on general morale, but officers from the St. Louis region's various police departments largely closed their ranks to outsiders.

However, some former officers have chosen to speak out about their experiences on the force. Terrell Carter, now a minister, artist and teacher, served as a cop for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department from 1997 to 2002. This year, he published a memoir of his years policing St. Louis' streets, Walking the Thin Blue Line: A Police Officer Turned Community Activist Provides Solutions to the Racial Divide.

We sat down with Carter this week to talk about St. Louis' police culture and how he thinks police could have better handled the Ferguson protests.

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Ferguson Court Clerk Fired for Racist Emails Says Losing Her Job Was Like "Being Raped"

Categories: Ferguson

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KMOV
Mary Ann Twitty thinks racist jokes are all right, as long as they're funny.
"It took me a while to get over the feeling of being raped and being thrown under that bus."

That was how Mary Ann Twitty, the former Ferguson court clerk, described getting fired from her job after the U.S. Department of Justice released emails containing a bunch of racist jokes that she'd forwarded to two police officers.

It was one of several off-putting responses in a raging garbage fire of an interview with KMOV (Channel 4) yesterday, during which Twitty also rejected the conclusions of the DOJ report that accused of her of setting high fines and encouraging officers to write more tickets.

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Ferguson Elects Two New Black City Council Members

Categories: Ferguson

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Jessica Lussenhop
The former makeup of the Ferguson city council, from September 2014.

The citizens of Ferguson elected three new members to its city council yesterday, bringing its members from majority white to half African American.

Ella Jones won decisively in Ward 1, replacing former Ferguson police officer Kim Tihen. Former Ferguson mayor and I Love Ferguson founder Brian Fletcher edged out activist Bob Hudgins in the 2nd. Finally, Velda City municipal judge and St. Louis Community College professor Wesley Bell claimed victory over opponent Lee Smith in Ward 3.

"We could not be more ecstatic -- that means we're reaching our constituents," says Bell. "When you have a community that is engaged, the sky's the limit."

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Four Journalists Sue St. Louis County Police Over Arrests, Injuries During Ferguson

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Danny Wicentowski
The night of the arrests in Ferguson.

Four journalists are suing the St. Louis County Police Department in federal court over their August 2014 arrests in Ferguson, claiming that their First Amendment right to freedom of the press was violated.

The plaintiffs are Ryan Devereaux, a staff writer at the Intercept; Lukas Hermsmeier, a freelancer reporting for Germany's BILD newspaper; Frank Herrmann, a U.S. correspondent for a group of German newspapers; and Ansgar Graw, senior political U.S. correspondent for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag. All four were arrested in the early hours of August 19, 2014, ten days after the shooting of Michael Brown. At the time, tensions were still high as protesters came out nightly to West Florissant Avenue, and police were using tear gas and rubber bullets.

"I was really taken aback by the way that protesters and the media were handled from the moment I got there, by the police," recalls Devereaux, who is based in New York City. "I felt that in many circumstances the police were behaving irresponsibly, and at times dangerously, toward media and protesters alike."

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MO History Museum Contacted Jewish Group Before Nixing Ferguson-Palestine Event

Categories: Ferguson, News

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Ray Downs
Activists organized last summer to protest the war in Gaza. The same activists are now mad at the Missouri History Museum.
Two days before a panel discussion on Ferguson, Palestine and the Ayotzinapa student massacre was set to kick off, the event's host, the Missouri History Museum, handed the panel's organizers an abrupt ultimatum: Remove Palestine from the agenda, or find a new location for the event.

Organizers refused to budge, the event was canceled and about 100 people protested outside the museum last week to accuse the St. Louis institution of "silencing" Palestinian voices. The event was later rescheduled at a different location.

Though the museum disputes accusations that it engaged in censorship, emails obtained by Daily RFT show that on the same day officials canceled the event, the museum's president, Frances Levine, was fielding concerned emails from the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. Further email correspondence reveal the that the museum specifically pressured an organizer to eliminate Palestine from the discussion panel.

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Suspect Who Allegedly Shot Two Officers Confessed to "Confidential Source"

Categories: Crime, Ferguson

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St. Louis County PD
Jeffrey L. Williams' booking photo.

According to the warrant issued for his arrest, Jeffrey L. Williams told a confidential source that he is responsible for shooting and wounding two police officers at the Ferguson Police Department on March 12.

As first reported by Yahoo News, the warrant details how an informant who had been "proven reliable in previous law enforcement investigations" contacted Ferguson Police Department detective Robert Brannan to say that he or she "had a phone conversation with a subject who claimed he was involved in the shooting of two police officers in the City of Ferguson."

The informant met with Brannan, where he or she was given a hidden audio and video recording device, then went to see Williams at his house in north St. Louis.

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