The overnight news out of Ferguson leaves the viewer with some hard work to find a positive spin on it. Yesterday, Governor Jay Nixon announced that there would be a curfew in place from midnight until 5 in the morning until peace was restored to the town. Well, that lasted exactly one night and the curfew is no more. While the order may have kept those inclined toward law and order indoors, others took to the streets resulting in seven arrests and (the last thing we needed to hear at this point) a shooting.
A person is fighting for his life in Ferguson, Missouri, just hours after a curfew was imposed in order to bring calm to a city that’s seen a week of protests and sporadic looting.
Police say one male was shot and seven people were arrested in the city where the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager has sparked days of unrest…
Police have no information on the shooter, Johnson said, but added that there was a person in the street with a handgun and a police car was shot at.
There don’t seem to be any solid estimates of how many people were out in the streets in violation of the curfew, but the interaction with law enforcement apparently didn’t look much different. Of course, given how Capt. Ron Johnson described the official policy toward enforcement, that may not come as much of a surprise.
Earlier, Johnson said law enforcement would not be heavy-handed in enforcing the curfew.
“We won’t enforce it with trucks, we won’t enforce it with tear gas,” he said.
In the end, though, the cops wound up using both smoke canisters and tear gas after the shooting took place. The media already had the Governor on the ropes in terms of trying to balance the First Amendment rights of the protesters against the need to protect persons and property from hoodlums, as well as defending the decision to impose the curfew.
“If there was an easy way to separate those who hurt from those who helped, we would. But it’s hard,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “And sometimes, especially at night, we can’t.”
“This is not to silence the people of Ferguson or this region or others, but to contain those who are drowning out the voice of the people with their actions,” Nixon said. “We will not allow a handful of looters to endanger the rest of this community.”
His decision stirred instant indignation among many gathered at the community meeting where he announced it. Some screamed out that authorities’ priority should be to provide justice to Brown’s family, not to clamp down on those calling for it.
One interesting side note which may provide a bit more background to the violence and protests comes from a video that CNN’s Victor Blackwell uncovered. It’s taken from somebody’s cell phone who was watching the police activity in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. And as a warning, the language is very coarse and the body of Michael Brown is still laying in the street for the entire thing, so you may want to skip clicking play.
If, as they suggest, this video has been making the rounds locally over social media, it may indeed have been fueling some of the anger. The introductory frames in the video have the bystander with his cell phone (who we’ll call Man 1) speaking with someone else who has arrived on the scene (Man 2) and is asking him questions.
Man 1: They say he had his hands up and everything.
Man 2: They trying to get at him?
Man 1: I don’t know. I wasn’t out here.
This part seems to establish that the owner of the video was not a witness to the shooting. He arrived after the fact, attracted by the sound of gunfire, and is getting his information second hand. But if this video has been making the rounds of the local residents, they probably paid a lot more attention to the next section of film. In the first sentence, it’s pretty clear that the owner of the video is talking about the police when he says “they” but then both of them refer to other persons (also “they”) who have apparently been giving details of what happened before the speaker arrived.
Man 1: They some lousy m***** f*****. They some dirty m***** f*****.
Man 2:They say they stood over him?
Man 1: Yeah. And shot him some more. When he was on the ground. That’s what they said. Shot him some more while he was on the ground.
Man 2:Police killed the dude.
Man 1: Yeah, police killed him. Said he had his hands up and everything. They still shot him. He fell on the ground, they stood over him and shot him some more. They’ve just got him laying in the street, dead as a m***** f*****. They just got him laying here.
Since we’ve yet to hear the officer’s account of what transpired in his own words, and since Michael Brown clearly can’t offer any testimony, we seem to be left with only one eye witness. And that witness winds up being the same person seen in a video helping Brown rob a store a few minutes before the fatal encounter, so you have to assign whatever level of credibility you wish to that testimony. But either way, having this sort of first person “reporting” making the rounds on everyone’s cell phones has no doubt been fueling a lot of the anger and speculation.
On the positive side, the numbers of people out there causing problems at least appears to be decreasing for now, so perhaps some semblance of normalcy will return to the area. The investigation continues.