The protests in Ferguson, Missouri appeared to be calmer on Thursday night than they had in the past. Some attributed the decline in violence from demonstrators and heavy-handed responses from police to the decision by Gov. Jay Nixon to put Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, an African-American, in charge of the town’s security.
In a tactical U-turn, Johnson, and a handful of black officers without body armour walked among thousands of protesters filling the streets of the mostly black St. Louis suburb, demanding justice for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“We just want to be able to come and demonstrate together without the fear of being shot. It’s that simple,” said 53-year-old protester Cat Daniels, an Iraq veteran. “What you see tonight is people coming together. When that kid was killed the hurt and the pain was real.”
But the protests have had an impact across the country, and demonstrators seeking to express solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson have turned on in a variety of places including New York City’s Times Square.
Via American Power blog, CBS News revealed that thousands of protesters flooded Broadway to protest the situation in Ferguson. The city continues to reel from the death of Eric Garner who passed after a police officer used a chokehold in order to subdue him. That death has been ruled a homicide, and New York City lawmakers are petitioning Attorney General Eric Holder to pursue a Department of Justice investigation into that incident.
There was a similar scene playing out last night in Chicago, where hundreds turned out in Daley Plaza to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown where they chanted slogans like “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace.”
Around the world, reactions to the episode in Ferguson have been passionate. In Russia, supporters of Vladimir Putin are seizing on the events in Missouri as an example of why the United States is in no position to lecture Russia on its foreign or domestic affairs.
“Obama isn’t satisfied killing Libyans, Syrians, and Ukrainians, [so] U.S. officials have sent the police to go kill Americans,” one Russian said in a Tweet directed at former U.S. Ambassador Mike McFaul.
“All in all, it seems that the Americans have started their own Maiden in Ferguson,” wrote Egor Prosvirnin, a supporter of Ukraine’s pro-Russian separatists and editor of the website Sputnik & Pogorm, in reference to the Kiev square where protesters gathered and ultimately ousted former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych. “What do you think? Should Russia grant Obama asylum in Rostov after the Ferguson Maidanites seize Washington?”
They have even seized on statements like Russia watcher and The New Republic columnist Julia Ioffe who some Russian readers marveled had compared the United States response to the violence in Ferguson to how Russia manages domestic affairs unfavorably.
In spite of the fact that the situation in Ferguson seems to be cooling, it is apparently only heating up in cities across America and around the world.