Author Topic: From Midwest to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over  (Read 2427 times)

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Offline Elaine Davis

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From Midwest to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over
« on: November 25, 2014, 18:25:05 PM »

From Midwest to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over


FERGUSON, Mo. — Months of anger and frustration, in the end, led only to more anger and frustration.
Shops were looted and burned on Ferguson’s main street. There were smoke bombs, tear gas, thrown rocks and random gunshots. In Ferguson, the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown was almost as bitter and hollow as his killing itself.

Brien Redmon, 31, stood in the cold watching a burning police car and sporadic looting after the announcement that there would be no indictments for Mr. Brown’s death at 18.
“This is not about vandalizing,” he said. “This is about fighting a police organization that doesn’t care about the lives they serve.”

Thomas Perry, 30, was equally bitter. “I support my people who are out there doing it,” he said. “For years they’ve been taking from us. We don’t care.”

The situation seemed to worsen as the night wore on, with fires and looting mostly limited to certain areas, but seemingly on the edge of spinning out of control. Officials said firefighters and police officers had been shot at during the evening.

Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country — from Los Angeles to Atlanta to New York — to protest the grand jury’s decision, and in most places the demonstrations were peaceful.
In New York City, a rowdy group of hundreds of protesters made its way up Seventh Avenue through Times Square, halting traffic as police officers raced on foot to keep up. “No justice, no peace,” the group yelled as cars honked and tourists snapped photos from the sidewalks.
“Everybody is frustrated,” said Hugh Jackson, 28, who just moved to New York from Atlanta and wore an American-flag-print bandanna over his mouth as he passed Carnegie Hall. Referring to a young black man killed a few days ago in Brooklyn, Mr. Jackson added that “you’re kind of numb to it at a certain point. It’s so systematic.”
In Philadelphia, a large but orderly crowd gathered downtown, singing, playing drums and chanting, “Justice for Mike Brown.”
In South Los Angeles, a crowd of protesters chanted, “From Ferguson to L.A., these killer cops have got to pay,” while about half a dozen police officers stood nearby. By 7:30 p.m., the crowd that gathered in a South Los Angeles park had dwindled to about 70 people. Chanting had given way to somber speeches.
“We’re not here to socialize. We’re here to demand justice,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor and chairwoman of the Pan-African studies department at California State University, Los Angeles.
Play Video|1:36
Nation Reacts to Ferguson Decision
Nation Reacts to Ferguson Decision
People around the country protested after a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to bring charges against Darren Wilson, a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager.
  Video by Quynhanh Do on Publish Date November 25, 2014.   Photo by Sam Hodgson for The New York Times. 
But in Ferguson, the destruction that erupted in fits and starts after the announcement was part of a scene of seething anger, frustration and grief that ebbed and flowed all day before the announcement and after it.
About 200 people stood in the cold in front of the Ferguson Police Department, listening on radios as the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert P. McCulloch, read his statement on Monday, reality dawning that they were not going to hear what they wanted.

During Mr. McCulloch’s announcement, Mr. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, and stepfather, Louis Head, stepped up onto a platform where protest leaders were standing.
“Defend himself from what!” Ms. McSpadden yelled, when Mr. McCulloch spoke of Officer Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Mr. Brown, defending himself.

She bowed her head and tears started streaming down her cheeks.
“Everybody wants me to be calm,” she said, her eyes covered with sunglasses. “You know what them bullets did to my son!” “They still don’t care!” she yelled. “They never going to care!” Ms. McSpadden then sank her head into her husband’s chest and bounced as she wept vigorously.

Mr. Head then turned and began to yell.

“Burn this down!” he repeatedly shouted, inserting an expletive.
The crowd then began to roar. Some rushed toward the fence near where the police were lined up. Representatives for the family helped them down off the platform and ushered them away, through the crowd. Officers in riot helmets and shields came out. Soon came the smoke bombs, the random sounds of bullets, the chaos that was almost as predictable as the verdict everyone expected.
The scene in downtown Ferguson near the police station grew increasingly unruly after a group of protesters tried to overturn a St. Louis County police car that was parked just off the road. As the police arrived, protesters threw rocks and broke the windows of at least two police cars. The police responded with tear gas, its strong odor permeating the frigid night air.

Nearby, the sound of glass breaking could be heard. El Palenque, a Mexican restaurant near the Ferguson Police Department, had broken windows. Gunshots could also be heard outside the station.
Protesters ran down South Florissant Road, out of sight of the police, and broke windows at several businesses, including a Beauty World store that they looted. Bursts of apparent gunfire were heard repeatedly.

The looting was a remarkable change in tone after what had been a mostly somber response to the news that Officer Wilson would not be charged. Officers initially stayed behind a skirmish line outside the Ferguson police station, and many demonstrators stewed peacefully in the street for roughly an hour.
But slowly, tension built and people began running north away from the police. Officers did not initially pursue them, and the first widespread looting occurred at that point.
The police eventually followed, warning over a loudspeaker that anyone who did not disperse would be arrested. Cars sped off in all directions as people — peaceful protesters and looters alike — darted through the street.
Closing in, the authorities warned over a bullhorn that the assembly was no longer lawful.
There were numerous stretches of this city late Monday night where all remained calm. Stores had “I Love Ferguson” signs in the windows. The red bows and holiday lights wrapped around the light poles downtown were still perfectly intact.
But there were pockets that felt like a city under siege.
Continue reading the main story  Locations of Violence After the Announcement
Full Q. and A. »
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 1  As  news of the decision spread, protesters surged forward, throwing objects at officers in riot gear. The sound of gunfire could be heard.  2  Police  officers used tear gas and smoke to disperse people who were hurling rocks and breaking the windows of parked police cruisers. A vehicle was set on fire. 3  At  least a dozen buildings were set on fire around the city, many in the vicinity of Ferguson Market and Liquor, the store Michael Brown was in before he was killed by Officer Wilson.

A Little Caesars Pizza shop was in flames. There were shattered windows at a UMB Bank branch. Thick smoke poured from the busted front entrance of a Walgreens pharmacy. Men stepped in but quickly stepped out, complaining that it was too difficult to see anything because of the smoke. The sound of gunfire occasionally rang out in the distance, and the acidic smell and aftertaste of tear gas filled the air. One man exited the Walgreens store and jokingly asked aloud if anyone wanted cigarettes.

At the intersection of North Florissant Road and Hereford Avenue — “Ferguson, a city since 1894,” reads the sign at the corner — firefighters worked on putting out the Little Caesars blaze, but there were no police or fire officials at Walgreens. The fire inside continued to burn. Spectators drove up to the store, as did news crews. All the while, the pharmacy’s high-pitched security bell echoed, the soundtrack of the evening’s drama.

“Not often you get to see anarchy, huh?” one man taking pictures outside Walgreens said.

The Brown family, before and after the announcement, was talking about systemic change, not violence, but like most in the crowd, it spent the evening battling emotions, not always winning.

As day turned to night on Monday and the prosecutor’s announcement got closer, the frustration had swelled on the streets in the heart of Ferguson, setting the stage for an outburst that had been months in the making.
Many demonstrators, long resigned to the notion that they would not get the outcome they wanted, seemed to respond spontaneously, from raw emotion. How they would express their outrage, and how far law enforcement would allow them to go, came with no easy answers. What was certain was that people felt they were part of something larger.
Continue reading the main story
  OPEN Timeline 
Timeline: Tracking the Events in the Wake of Michael Brown’s Shooting
“I only saw this stuff in school,” said Courtney Ford, 30, an educator who is black and who lives in St. Louis. He left work to observe the protesters holding court across the street from the Ferguson Police Department.
“The Selma marches, and Martin Luther King, and the civil rights activists,” he continued. “But now, this is life. This is history. I’m just out here really as a witness.”

By about 5 p.m., hours before the announcement of the grand jury’s decision, crowds started gathering across from the station, their energy rising as the night went on.

A small crowd of roughly 50 protesters chanted, sang and shouted, all while watched by dozens of reporters, photographers and other spectators. The protesters were a postmodern, post-Ferguson amalgam of political views, ages, ethnicities. A few men in black-and-white clergy collars stood next to a circle of young black men and women who rapped their anti-police slogans.
“No justice,” a man with a bullhorn yelled.

“No peace,” the crowd replied.

“No racist —,” he continued.

“Police,” they answered.

A middle-aged white woman wove through the crowd, yelling, “We need to shut this down across America!” and handing out fliers.

The woman, Jessie Davis, was a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party and came here from Chicago.
Someone held a protest sign made out of a Cheerios box. The pungent scent of marijuana filled the air at one point. A few parents brought their children. One protester hurried through the crowd, saying into a walkie-talkie, “What’s your location?” A young African-American man — in one of the ghoulish Guy Fawkes masks that have become a staple of the protests — was approached and asked what he hoped to accomplish. He said nothing, shrugged and walked away.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m., a few protesters walked across the street and began shaking the metal barricades that blocked the entrance to the police station’s parking lot. One of them wore a Guy Fawkes mask. Another wore a bandanna across his face. They pushed and pulled the barricades until several sections came unlocked. One of the protesters stretched his arms in the victory pose: The barricade was down, and the protesters across the street cheered.

 Mitch Smith and Alan Blinder contributed reporting from Ferguson.

GOD FORBID THE LIGHTS GO OUT and a zillion brains have to be retrained to function in manual reality.

Does anyone else get the idea that the tweets on the WL account are starting to sound a little like someone is bathing in a bird bath, eating bird food & possibly smoking bird * in his own sphere??