Rage in the Streets of Ferguson

by Larry Everest | November 24, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


November 24, midnight

By 8 p.m. tonight, 600 or 700 people had gathered in front of the police station on South Florissant Street in Ferguson to finally hear—after 108 days of agony and anger—whether or not Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered Mike Brown on August 9, would be indicted for murder. People were already angry—chanting “What Do We Do? Shut Shit Down!” “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cop to Jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” People stood up against the metal rails separating them from the pigs guarding their station—yelling, “Your badge doesn’t mean shit to me tonight!” 

Most people I talked to sensed that the system wouldn’t indict Wilson, but it felt like people's stomachs were tied in knots, the tension thick enough to cut. (Last night one Black woman told me if Wilson wasn’t indicted, there was no longer any future for her six children in America.) The prosecutor’s press conference started at 8 p.m.  But then, after 108 days, they still couldn’t just come out with the decision. They tormented people standing out in the near-freezing weather with 30 minutes of bullshit before they finally spit out their decision: no indictment!

It was like a kick in the stomach. Rage rippled through the crowd. People chanted, people yelled, people surged against the police barricade knocking it over. People seemed to be moving in six directions at once. 

Earlier in the day, I’d heard Missouri Governor Nixon and the mayor of St. Louis claim they were going to protect people's right to protest. That as long as property wasn’t damaged they were going to let people take the streets, even block traffic. Bullshit! People marching down the street were confronted with several huge riot vehicles. Before even an hour was up the pigs were telling people to get off the streets, to stop throwing things, that this was an illegal assembly. Several hundred people stood defiantly. Then the tear gas rounds started coming, and people scattered back in front of the pig sty. But before long people regrouped and came back, standing right in front of the armored pigs. 

I was taking pictures and filming. The tear gas rounds started coming again—like flares being shot into the crowd, like you were in a war zone. I got caught in a cloud of gas at one point—it has an acrid stink, it stings your eyes and gags you, making you feel like you’re not going to be able to breathe. So by 9:30, barely an hour after the announcement, most of us had been driven from the area, although some 100 remained. 

But when we drove over to West Florissant near the Canfield Apartments where Mike Brown lived and was murdered, we saw hundreds, probably over 1,000 people, on foot, driving into the area in their cars—taking over the streets, venting their rage.  Someone who lives here told me it reminded him of the first nights after Mike’s murder. They too were attacked by the police and soon the whole street stunk of tear gas.

As we headed out we heard news of protests in St. Louis, including the shutting down of Highway 44. Protests will likely go through the night, and more have been called for tomorrow starting at 7 a.m. This is far, far from over. 

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