We were somewhere near the McDonald’s on West Florissant, when the tension began to take hold. My buddy was of course filled with a bit of dread from the moment I parked and we started walking around down there, but I of course had no similar mentality. It wasn’t until I was keenly aware that the crowd down at the QuikTrip had become loud enough to hear where we were(And between us and the car), that I thought the day might begin to turn. Still even at this time we were seeing protestors talking to te few police that were there. We were hearing talk of people in and out of the McDonald’s hoping for peace. And I got to meet a couple of journalists including a wire reporter who clearly was dealing with a photographer on her first true assignment.
As we headed back to the car so I could reposition and we could get some better quotes. I wanted to see what things looked like. It was the first time the police had stopped talking to other folks to talk to me. So of course I asked a few questions about response, set up for the evening, and why they were set up in the fashion they were. But we also snapped some photos that of course appear below. Ones that show they had already planned to use tear gas or some other gas based “crowd control device” as one officer called it. Otherwise why have the gas masks at 5pm?
As we headed back towards the growing crowd, the car, and what was sure to be an interesting stopping point, some guys had gotten on top of what looked like a moving truck and were riling up the crowd. Nothing uncommon about it. Just chants of No Justice, No Peace, and similar mantras. But the mood was shifting. I wouldn’t know how much so until moments later as we neared the car and many of the comments of “I pray for some peace tonight during the memorial,” were responded to by someone saying, “What has peace gotten us? What did peace get Mike?”
We snapped some more photos and got a great story about the arrest of a protestor earlier in the week who had legitimately not even started protesting when she was arrested while being asked to leave. But we soldiered on. At first following what seemed to be a SWAT truck heading in a roundabout way for the same area we just left. And that chase turned into a convoy of 5 or so trucks heading into the area around 7pm. But 7:30, thanks to some google maps reading, we were staring at another block of the area and 5 more trucks clearly having just arrived. Positioned near the Market.
Something was up. And I wanted to get over to the small peaceful protest at the police trailer before we left town, or things got out of hand, whichever came first. Over there we found a much more calm and far smaller affair. But I couldn’t help but laugh in terror and surprise at something we found out. The Ferguson Police department was in a trailer. Yes a trailer, while they were building a brand new facility. A facility that looked close to opening. And I could not get over the sudden dread that this entire situation would do little more than speed that construction and the community’s demand for it, as well as potential expansion. Like I said. I laughed, in surprise and terror.
Unlike the West Florissant location it was a clearly small and peace focused location. A woman appeared with her gospel music pretty loud and was told to turn it off. “We aren’t trying to antagonise or have an agenda other than justice.” Is what one of the people there said. And then while my buddy was grabbing some additional quotes from folks, we were told there was going to be a short prayer rally at the site of the shooting itself and people were headed there. We took one more go at getting a look, and the crowd in the area was massive. While maybe 500 or so were on the street at West Florissant before it was clearly beyond doubled. And far louder, and the reactions on police faces, and protestors were far more strained and tense. When things were clearly headed to what we know now was one of the worst nights, I was on my way out of town, stopping for gas and food far outside the community.
But that’s my impression overall. And I know you didn’t come to read this for just that. I want tel you briefly what disgusted me before I get to the far more antagonistic portion of my commentary. I saw something at the church and at the various rally and protest points that screamed hypocrisy. It is a hot day in Missouri so I get it that businesses in the area are selling out on water and other things to keep cool. but I saw makeshift stands selling bottled water and food 40 feet from folks who were giving it away free. At the police station the snack stand was directly behind the protestors and we were asked more than once if we wanted to spend our money to “help them out.” I’d heard earlier about this from a couple of very cool journalists and these folks had no connection to the family or any of the donation raising efforts. Just opportunitists using tragedy to stay in the black.
BBQ stands, Ice Cream trucks, unofficial “#JusticeForMikeBrown” shirts. And did I walk up and talk to them? Absolutely. Only one, a guy who I recognized from the Trayvon Martin Rallies when I was in Law School, mentioned any plans to donate even part of the money made to the family. I trusted the local McDonald’s more than these other folks though.
And that brings me to the elephant in the room. The looting. The rioting. And of course, the interactions with police. Early on I said and still believe that the key to making a larger point is not destroying your own community. Why am I advocating the destruction of other community’s? I’m not idiot. I’m saying that if the point is you are angry and you think all you have left is violence, then making sure you can no longer live in your house isn’t a smart move. Whether or not I oppose rioting(I oppose rioting for a long list of reasons we’ll get into some other time), location wise tearing up the places you are most likely to use only says you don’t deserve them and makes businesses move out. Going outside your community says “You no longer are safe and free of dealing with the problems you bring into my community.” And yes that is a much more powerful message.
But the Riots I have thought for some time have been the work of some group that wants more inroads and control, as well as to swing the narrative their direction. Now I could be cynical and say the media, or republicans, but I’m not certain of that. Take a look at this video.
Now I cannot substantiate this claim. But I present you with the following correlation that may not be causation, so I am NOT calling this the truth, I’m saying it should be investigated.
Throughout the day the largest media presence were multiple teams from what they called themselves “The Socialist News Network” Now, I’ve not seen them on any of the websites that claim to be socialists. And none of them would produce a business card. But they were keenly interested in talking to folks of the far more revolution ready set. And when they talked to me? Well I can’t get across the point better than the white guy with a fauxhawk blazer and dockers with boat shoes said it. “We’re here because we want to show that the system is broken and that we should start getting rid of the corrupt US government through armed rebellion. Starting right here in Ferguson.”
Am I saying they are there causing violence in an attempt to make inroads into the black community, as well as prove that they can stir people into armed rebellion? NO. Am I saying they are actually the socialist news network? NO. What I am saying is someone is manipulating things to get the message, direction, and actions of people who want to legitimately protest a legitimately fucked up situation for their own ends. And you can’t trust most folks who are around.
We ran into many folks who also felt like people were pushing for things to happen as a point of something larger. I couldn’t have been happier about things than when the protestors kicked Jesse Jackson out for trying to turn things into his own personal “Hey I’m alive and need to be relevant” campaign. But I want to end by talking about this bigger idea I have. What if the point is to keep things stuck in a post civil rights area tension instead of addressing racial issues and moving forward as Americans.
What are you talking about Ruthless?
I’m saying this exactly. What is scarier for racists, bigots, idiots, asshats, and of course redneck, inbred, methhead shit hook misogynist homophobes, the groups they hate being wantonly violent and confrontational, or organizing power and influence in immediate fashion to bring about the things that they want? If suddenly everything is moving in a positive way with frightening efficiency and promise? If everyone involved has moved things the direction of justice? Suddenly all the talking points of certain Oxycontin addicted radio hosts have to get stuffed back down their fuckfaces doesn’t it? Suddenly “their kind” is being used to refer to those dinosaurs of the human age, that refuse to evolve like the rest of us. And it can’t be passed off as PC run amuck, or apologist culture.
All respect to Public Enemy but it isn’t just a Black Planet that is feared. It’s a reasonable Black population that solidifies its power into accomplishing things. It’s why Good men and women had to die in the civil rights movement. And I’m not saying violence doesn’t have its own place. But proportionality and timing are as important if not more so than the violence itself. Seems like an interesting finality to deal with does it not? A world where your antiquated thinking is what makes you inferior. Well the people who see that as an amazing idea. Congrats, you are a higher thinking being worthy of being called a Human. The ones that don’t or immediately started thinking of ways to disagree with the statement with overtly showing your internal biases that I called out. get back down their with the more animalistic bigots you decry or are a part of.
Justice for Mike Brown comes with the use of more than more force. And takes far longer than some hashtag activism on Facebook and twitter. See you when the trial starts. For now. I’ll leave you with the photos we took.
I’ll let you react to the photos as you chose. Because I didn’t just take shot of people who’s message I agreed with. I didn’t just take shots of people I thought were taking the wrong tactical approach. Because I’m not beholden to any agenda here than making you think and bringing more light and perspective. Because in the end…Words Don’t Do It Justice!