Tear gas (Credit: ThinkStock)
To say it was another long night in Ferguson, Missouri would be quite the understatement. Since unarmed 18 year-old Michael Brown was killed by a cop in the street eight days ago, the nights have been exclusively long—and excruciating. And last night was perhaps the worst.
What exactly went down? Where to dive in to the horror? In no particular order . . .
- Reports of last night’s march were almost cheery at first. There seemed to be some healing earlier yesterday, after Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol—who was put in charge of monitoring protest efforts on Thursday—apologized to Michael Brown’s family. The protests were peaceful, with some dancing and food. Whole families, with their children, showed up, standing in solidarity against police brutality—all just exercising their First Amendment rights. And then things took a dramatic and devastating turn around 9 pm (To note: hours before the governor-mandated curfew was slated to go in effect.)
- According to AP reports, when thousands of marchers reached a roadblock, they were met with police—and tear gas. Twenty-four-year-old Ashley Rhodes said she was walking down West Florissant when the march came under a hailstorm of smoke canisters: "They just ran up all on us. We had no warning.” Police had reported protesters using Molotov cocktails; however, these reports were later questioned.
- This was, unfortunately, only the very beginning of that “dramatic and devastating” turn we mentioned. Children were tear-gased. A woman, one of a number of others, asked the local McDonald’s for milk to clean out her tear-gased eyes:
- And journalists continued to be threatened. Like, really threatened. A reporter for KARG Argus Radio in St. Louis, who was recording a livestream of events in Ferguson, was met with these kind words from a police officer: "Get the fuck out of here or I will shoot you." And it’s all on tape, of course prompting the question of what happens when cameras are not present.
- Even prominent MSNBC journalists were not immune from threats. Chris Hayes was told by a riot cop “Get back! Or next time you’re gonna be the one maced.”
- As if all of this doesn’t help elucidate how bad shit is in Ferguson, it’s also important to note that war correspondents from abroad are being sent to cover the story. Let’s let that marinate for a bit. War correspondents, just outside of St. Louis. Not to mention Amnesty International's "unprecedented" action—the group deployed a 13-person team to Ferguson on Thursday, the first time the group had sent this kind of presence into the U.S.
- Finally, in the midst of all this madness and terror came the devastating dispatch from the New York Times on Michael Brown’s autopsy. The teenager was shot at least six times—twice in the head. There was no gun shot residue found on the 18 year-old’s body, thus it is extremely unlikely he was shot at close-range—in stark contrast to the report police gave. Brown was autopsied by Dr. Michael M. Baden, former chief medical examiner for NYC, who’d also conducted the autopsies for JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Did we mention this case was grabbing national attention? Attorney General Eric Holder had called for a second, federally-conducted autopsy earlier in the day yesterday. Not that we’ll need it to tell us that there was a murder in our streets last weekend—or that those streets are growing increasingly horrifying to watch.
Oh, and a reminder: Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed unarmed Michael Brown, from a distance, with "at least six shots"? Still not arrested.