‘Insurgents’ are on the streets of Ferguson, alderman warns

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French has been on the streets of Ferguson night and day for more than a week, tweeting his account of protests and clashes with police since the shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

He has consistently argued that the police response has overwhelmingly outweighed the threat of violence — until now.

In a series of tweets, French sounded the alarm that a small group of “insurgents” is to blame for the increase in violence and chaos he witnessed on the streets of Ferguson on Sunday night:

 

Fear that troublemakers and outsiders are sabotaging otherwise peaceful protests seems to be shared by others in Ferguson.

Ronnie Natch, a leader of one of the factions of protesters, said he awoke in a panic Monday morning about the violence and the pending arrival of the National Guard, which has been called in by Gov. Jay Nixon (D).

Increasingly, said Natch, a 30-year-old music producer, young men from around the country — from Chicago to New York — have been coming to Ferguson. Often, they bring increased violence.

“They are showing up angry,” Natch said. “I get that, but the problem is they destroy stores, then they go home and we are left with what’s left.”

He organizes a section of the protest that is known to be peaceful and distributes water and fruit by the main police station.

“We don’t know what today and tonight will bring,” he added. “The thought is keeping me up. One idiot can ruin everything.”

Natch said he would be meeting with other protest groups — including one known as “the QuickTrip faction” — and talking to police about getting the gas lines turned off at what was a working gas station in the epicenter of the protest.

“This has become a very dangerous situation,” he said. “Hopefully the national guard is here to do good, so that’s what will come of it.”

— With Emily Wax in Ferguson, Mo.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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Abby Phillip · August 18