I’m trying to post on a weekly basis, but on this particular week there’s really nothing of my own I can say that would be useful, because I’ve spent the past few days watching Ferguson, Missouri as the police have used tear gas, rubber bullets, and armored vehicles to put down a largely peaceful protest about the murder of Michael Brown.
Here are some facts about what’s happening in Ferguson, in case all the information you’ve gotten is from USA Today or Fox News:
Last night, journalists Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post were arrested, along with local alderman Antonio French. Lowery and Reilly were released during the night without charge or explanation for why they had been put in jail; French was released this morning.
On Monday night, Missouri state senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal was tear gassed. Last night, a crew from Al Jazeera setting up cameras was also tear gassed, and police smashed cameras and lights.
Various veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have commented that the Ferguson police are more heavily armored and carry more weaponry than the veterans ever did. They have also commented that the police response is not only overmilitarized but highly incompetent.
While Ferguson is a largely black community, its police force and government are largely white. Black residents are stopped more often than white residents, arrested more often than white residents, and less likely to be carrying illegal items than white residents. (More statistics here.)
Police have reported no one has been injured, but visual evidence suggests that protesters have definitely been injured. President Obama released a statement this morning, saying there was no excuse for excessive use of force by police, but there was also no excuse for violence against police. No police have been injured yet.
Though most media outlets are reporting that the police are attempting to keep the peace against a rioting mob, tweets from reporters at the scene as well as local residents report that the police response actually makes up the majority of the violence in Ferguson right now, and that protesters have been largely peaceful. Chants have included “Unarmed, don’t shoot,” and “no justice, no peace,” the latter of which was misheard and reported as “kill the police”.
Reports from Ferguson have shown the police calling local protesters “animals”.
Please also look at this interview with Michael Brown’s mother.