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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Fires of protest burn again in Ferguson

Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses in Ferguson early Tuesday and gunfire kept firefighters at bay after protests over the decision not to indict a police officer in Michael Brown’s death turned violent, despite pleas for peace from Brown’s family and others.

Protesters smashed windows out of police cars and buildings, several of which were later looted and set ablaze, and officers lobbed tear gas from inside armored vehicles to disperse crowds in scenes reminiscent of the early days of unrest that followed the Aug. 9 shooting.

But the violence that followed Monday’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the death of the unarmed black 18-year-old quickly took a more destructive turn — a storage facility, two auto parts stores, a beauty supply store and pizza shop were just some of the businesses that burned.

An Associated Press photographer saw firefighters arrive at one scene only to be turned back by gunfire.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said during an early morning news conference that he “personally heard about 150 shots fired” during the course of the night, but said police did not fire a shot. He said most of at least a dozen burned businesses were “total losses” and noted two police cars were “basically melted.”

“I don’t think we were underprepared,” Belmar said. “But I’ll be honest with you, unless we bring 10,000 policemen in here, I don’t think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community.”

Smashed window glass littered the sidewalks around many other businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to a McDonalds along the main drag. The Ferguson Market — where surveillance video had recorded Brown stealing cigars minutes before he was killed — was ransacked.

At least one building and several vehicles in a used car lot also burned in the neighboring city of Dellwood.

The vast majority of protesters had left the streets by late Monday, but looting and gunfire still were reported well after midnight.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department ahead of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch’s news conference to announce the grand jury’s decision.

As McCulloch read his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which the news conference was broadcast on a stereo. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, sat atop the car. When the decision was announced, she burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.

A short time later, Brown’s family issued a statement asking people to keep their protests peaceful, echoing pleas they had issued several times in the days and weeks leading up to the decision.

“Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction,” the statement said.

But some protesters overran barricades and taunted police. Some chanted “murderer” and others threw rocks and bottles. The windows of a police car were smashed and protesters tried to topple it before it was set on fire, though some in the crowd tried to stop others from taking part in the violence.

Officers responded by firing what authorities said was smoke and pepper spray into the crowd. St. Louis County Police later confirmed tear gas also was used.

Copyright © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

6 thoughts on “Fires of protest burn again in Ferguson”

  1. That is, of course, part of the problem. These people have experience with the law, and they believe the law itself is corrupt, therefore working with the law is inherently pointless.

    Therefore they work outside the law. To them it seems the only way.

    I’m not sure I entirely blame them.


    • In what universe is a prohibition over looting someone’s business, or burning someone’s vehicle….particularly those that might actually belong to your own neighbors…is in any way a “corrupt” law?

      • Imagine if they took something that belonged to someone else, an otherwise innocent third party — And threw it into Boston Harbor?

        It’s not one specific regulation – It’s the enforcement of some of them. I’m not speaking of ‘The Law’ merely as what’s written down in various codes, but of the entire mechanism thereof, from judges through juries down to the front-line policemen. And those can be and sometimes are corrupt.


        • The issue with the tea tossed into Boston Harbor was all about an unfair tax being levied by a corrupt government…ON THE TEA.

          So, once again, how does burning down someone else’s private business (or stealing property from private business establishments that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the so-called government “corruption” of which you speak) become somehow justified? Where’s the connection?

          The truth is….there isn’t one. Zip, nada, none.

          • The tea did not belong to the government.

            But the point remains – When working within the system so abyssmally fails the only recourse is to go outside the system.

            At the time they thought the government was corrupt. At this time some think the same.

            At least you’ve admitted that governments can be corrupt.


  2. People who throw rocks at police, burn vehicles, loot businesses and set fire to buildings and vehicles are NOT simply what the liberal media calls “protesters”.

    Rather, such people are vandals, thieves, and arsonists. They should all be rounded up and dealt with to the full extent of the law.


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