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Live updates: Chaos in Ferguson

August 19, 2014

Chaos has dominated the streets of Ferguson since Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, an officer with the Ferguson Police Department. Days of protests have been followed by nights of tense confrontations between residents and a heavily-armed police force. Go here for the latest updates.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Two men shot during another night of violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., have not yet been identified. But police confirmed early Tuesday that officers were not involved in the shootings.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson said in an early morning news briefing he had no updates on the shooting victims and no information on their identities. He later told reporters one person was shot in the hand.

“We can’t have this,” he said following the 2:20 a.m. news briefing. “We do not want any citizen hurt, we don’t want any officer hurt. But when you’re shooting in apartment complexes and children are laying in the bed in apartment complexes and bullets are flying through the air… The old saying on the street is, ‘A bullet has no name.’ We do not want to lose another life in this community.”

After the news conference, reporters asked Johnson if any of the 31 people arrested Monday night were journalists. He said no but explained that, amid chaos, officers aren’t always certain who is media and who is not.

“We may take some of you into custody, but when we do take you into custody and we have found out that you are journalists we have taken the proper action,” he said.

Johnson said police also have a responsiblity to protect journalists.

“We are going to make this neighborhood whole,” he said. “We are going to make this community whole. We’re going to do it together. And I am not going to let the criminals that have come from across the country or live in the community define this neighborhood or define what we’re going to do to make it right.”

  • Justin Moyer
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Capt. Ronald Johnson speaking to press now.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Early Tuesday, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson talked to CNN reporters about the evening’s protests. Here are the highlights:

“Protesters became large and agitated … and several of the groups tried to get media attention and agitated the response. When police stepped in, they began to throw frozen water bottles at officers,” Johnson said.

Was police response necessary?

Johnson said yes. “The crowd began to walk past the designated area for protesters … and then they turned back. When a large group got to our area, they became agitated and one threw an explosive device on the ground,” he said.

He added: “We also had a gentleman in the crowd who had a weapon.” He said the person was part of security for a news team.

When is it appropriate for police to take action?

“It becomes a balance on how long do we wait,” Johnson said, explaining that officers waited to respond during Sunday night’s protests. “Yesterday, the crowd began to grow and grow … and before we knew it they were all the way up to our command post. … Tonight we had gunfire that occurred.” He said police had to act.

Does a massive show of force cause more problems than it solves?

“Our peaceful protesters are not the enemy,” Johnson said. “They’re not. But also you saw tonight … we received gunshots. We have two we transported to the hospital.”

Johnson said those transported to the hospital were not shot by law enforcement.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson is preparing for a press conference in Ferguson, Mo.

During a live interview with CNN early Tuesday morning, he did not disclose the details of the briefing but said: “I’m hoping when I’m done with that briefing, the press and I are still friends.”

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

“I walked out there an asked for peace,” Johnson said in an interview with CNN. “… I wanted to do everything I can to make this peaceful. I walked out in the middle of that and could have been injured.”

He added: “I know the people we arrested tonight were not being peaceful.”

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Police are dispersing everyone on West Florissant in Ferguson, Mo., including credentialed media, after gunshots were reportedly fired, according to several media outlets. Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson said demonstrators who remain on the street are being arrested. Officers formed a line directly in front of the media and members of the press were asked to return to a cordoned-off media area up the hill.

Saint Louis County Police were in an armored vehicle parked in the middle of the street. Two law enforcement officers stood atop with binoculars. Press is slowly dispersing.

At 11 p.m., a handful of residents stood at the memorial at the site where Michael Brown was killed, according to Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery. They poured out beer bottles and liquor next to the memorial, and discussed whether or not they would attend his funeral.

In the distance, the sounds of gun shots cut through the sky intermittently. Then huge bangs.

At the corner of Canfield and West Florissant, police deployed at least three separate volleys of tear gas. Hundreds scattered in every direction.

“They dropping bombs out the sky!” screamed one man as he dashed away from the thick clouds of smoke.

About a dozen young men prepared to fight back, grabbing bottles and rocks:

“I’ve got gas if you’ve got bottles.”

“Who has got lighter fluid?”

Residents ignited a fire in the street as officers continue to blast the area with thick layers of tear gas. The fire, they hoped, would stop officers from advancing.

Meanwhile, police tactical vehicles sped down the street. At 11:15 p.m. came another round of tear gas, landing in loud booms that sent most of the rest of the crowd scattering.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Police: “Please disperse immediately or you will be subject to arrest.”

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·
  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

The Ferguson crowd, which numbered in the hundreds two hours ago, has thinned to clusters of dozens of people — including many members of the media, Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson said.

“Some of the media be like we provoking this. We standing on the sidewalk. They trained automatic weapons on us. They threw a water bottle. That’s it,” Carl Brown, a 26-year-old demonstrator, told Thompson.

It was a tense confrontation as protesters refused to move out of the street and threw bottles at officers. Police vehicles drove through the middle of the street and dropped a canister of tear gas, moving the crowd back. Several people left.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery reporting sound of gunshots in Ferguson, Mo.:

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

CNN reports Molotov cocktails thrown in Ferguson.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

CNN reports shots fired in Ferguson.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Former NBA star and current ESPN sports analyst Jalen Rose told his Twitter followers Monday night that #Ferguson is a serious issue.

Rose kept the conversation going, responding to comments from followers.


Side note: Nelly was wearing a #MikeBrown T-shirt when he spoke to protesters on Monday.

  • Justin Moyer
  • ·

Tear gas used tonight as well as stun grenades.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson said tear gas is being deployed in Ferguson, Mo.

Protestors beneath the QuikTrip stood in the middle of the street with their hands up and set up orange cones. Police threw out smoke bombs and flares. Demonstrators threw them back immediately and began sounding a alarm. West Florissant Street near the Quick Trip filled with smoke. Demonstrators continued to stand in the roadway and pulled Porta-Potties into the middle of the roadways.

Dozens of men and women stood at the darkened QuikTrip parking lot. Some held their hands up. A police helicopter flew low overhead.

“If you are on the QuikTrip parking lot, you are unlawfully assembled. You need to continue to move,” an officer said repeatedly. A confrontation seems imminent.

At the same time, Gov. Jay Nixon tweeted:

Up until 9:30 p.m., calm prevailed on the three-block span of West Florissant where protesters gathered. Under National Guard rules, protesters were asked to stay out of the streets and to continuously walk on sidewalks. The crowd was again a mixture, young parents and toddlers in strollers, along with shirtless young men.

“Lord, I’m just trying to go home,” said a woman walking with a cane as members of the crowd began to run.

Shirtless young men cursed police in gas masks as police ordered the crowd to disperse and began to sound alarms when any members of the crowd stopped marching.

“F— a cops,” a young man yelled.

“We’re going to take your badges and shove it up your a–,” another said earlier to a state trooper.

“You are?” the law enforcement officer responded.

  • Sarah Larimer
  • ·

The hip hop community came out to march with the demonstrators who’ve taken to the streets for 10 nights straight. Washington Post reporter Krissah Thompson said Monday night that Nelly, the St. Louis born rapper, spoke to a thick crowd in a parking lot at West Florissant and Ferguson Avenue in Ferguson, Mo., through a bull horn.

“Don’t get it twisted. It has been things that have happened behind the scenes as far as getting people to rally and getting scholarships in the name of Mike Brown,” he said just before sun down.

Here’s rapper Nelly, on the scene of the protests:

H/t Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post

Nelly is a native of St. Louis, and has been active in the community following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Reaction to his presence was mixed.

Ricky Vantreece, a 32-year-old who loved in St. Louis, heckled Nelly.

“He got his money. He’s gone,” said Vantreece, who accused the artist of participating in a publicity stunt.

The rapper, who’s biggest hits include “Hot in Herrre” and “Pimp Juice,” had his bestselling album in 2000.

“He really don’t come to St. Louis. He really don’t do nothing for St. Louis but he’s from here,” said Justine Turner, 20. “Some people are upset that he’s here.”

Her friend Jamaul Jefferies, 22, noted that Chicago rapper J Cole had been in town for a day before Nelly showed up.

“J Cole came. He’s not from here,” Jefferies said. “He didn’t have to come.”

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

Getty Images photographer Scott Olson, who was arrested Monday night while covering protests in Ferguson, has been released and is back to work, according to Twitter reports.

According to a statement from Getty Images:

Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson, who was arrested this afternoon in Ferguson, Missouri, while on assignment, has been released. Scott told me tonight, “I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job.”

Getty Images condemns Scott’s arrest and is committed to ensuring that he and our other photographer colleagues are able to report this important story.

Earlier in the evening, Getty Images said it was working to get him out.

Earlier, President Barack Obama said:

There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America, police should not be arresting or bullying journalists who are just trying to do their jobs.

Here’s a link to some of Olson’s Ferguson photos.

  • Lindsey Bever
  • ·

The mother of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in 2012, wrote an open letter Monday night to the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, to share her journey since her son’s death and pray for the Browns as they begin theirs.

Sybrina Fulton wrote about her concerns over gun violence, saying, “Our children are our future so whenever any of our children – black, white, brown, yellow, or red – are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is like unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.”

The letter went on to talk about the Browns’ journey ahead:

Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free. In fact, he is on paid administrative leave. Your own feelings will bounce between sorrow and anger. Even when you don’t want to think about it because it is so much to bear, you will be forced to by merely turning on your television or answering your cell phone. You may find yourselves pulled in many different directions by strangers who may be well-wishers or detractors. Your circle will necessarily close tighter because the trust you once, if ever, you had in “the system” and their agents are forever changed. Your lives are forever changed.

However with those changes come new challenges and opportunities. You will experience a swell of support from all corners of the world. Many will express their sympathies and encourage you to keep fighting for Michael. You will also, unfortunately, hear character assassinations about Michael which I am certain you already have. This will incense and insult you. All of this will happen before and continue long after you have had the chance to lay your son to rest.

In the end, Fulton urged the Browns to fight for justice:

But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…

Fulton is the founder the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which aims to create awareness and support for families who are victims of violent crime.

“I will support you and your efforts to seek justice for your Michael and the countless other Michaels & Trayvons of our country,” Felton wrote to the family.

  • Emily Wax-Thibodeaux
  • ·

A young girl hands out roses to demonstrators on West Florissant Avenue. (Ed Zurga/European Pressphoto Agency)

FERGUSON — Tonight on West Florissant, the National Guard was allowing people to march instead of clustering them together and restricting their movement.

People were handing out red roses to honor Michael Brown, and some police officers have been giving water to marchers.

Church leaders sang spirituals and protest songs, including “We Shall Overcome.”

The atmosphere so far? Party protest.

But St. Louis Metropolitan Police Major Ron Robinson was worried about what might happen later. “It’s not over,” Robinson said early Monday evening. “It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”

– with Krissah Williams

  • J. Freedom du Lac
  • ·

From The Post’s Paul Farhi:

As reporters have discovered over the past week, there’s no journalism textbook on how to cover a riot. There’s also little experience to fall back on: Most of the people covering Ferguson weren’t born yet when American cities were swept up in the urban riots of the 1960s.

Authorities have scrambled, too, to accommodate the invading media army, which now numbers several hundred. Officials established a media zone — an area designated by crime-scene tape — on West Florissant Avenue, near the turmoil last week. The “pen” is designed to enable journalists to view officials’ response to the protesters and rioters, and to offer a central spot for news updates. Reporters were told they risked arrest if they left the designated area.

Two problems: There wasn’t much to see from the pen, and the official updates weren’t very helpful….

This has forced reporters to wander farther afield in search of the story, often into dangerous territory.

“I’ve been through [Hurricane] Katrina, so I’ve been around the block, and this might rank right up there” in terms of uncertainty and risk, said Trymaine Lee, an MSNBC reporter who is covering events in the suburban St. Louis town. “There were a few moments when you felt that anything could happen.”

Read more here.

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