The “weekend of resistance” was and continues to be an odd mixture of causes, demographics, and minor action when compared with the looting in the days and weeks immediately following Mike Brown’s death. I’m going to try and discuss the events of the weekend day-to-day. I took notes as everything was happening so that I hopefully didn’t forget anything too big.
An off-duty but uniformed St. Louis City officer was working approved secondary employment as private security in the area of Shaw when he observed a group of three black males. When they noticed the officer they turned and started running. The officer gave chase which he is legally authorized to do as a result of the suspicious action, the time of day, and the high crime nature of the area. This is called reasonable suspicion and is grounds for a limited investigative detention.
One of the males, later identified as Vonderit Myers (18), attempted to attack the officer in a physical confrontation. Myers managed to back off from the melee and pulled up his shirt revealing a pistol. The officer drew his weapon, presumably a department issued 9mm Beretta. Myers drew his own firearm and fired three shots. He attempted to fire more but the gun jammed. In the course of this action the officer returned fire apparently emptying his magazine of the sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) rounds it held until he was sure the threat was neutralized.
Myers’ family asserts that he was unarmed at the time. The only basis for this information is supposedly from the two other individuals who were with him earlier in the evening. A video has been circulated showing Myers purchasing a sandwich earlier in the evening which is repeatedly and insanely used as evidence that Myers was unarmed. The owner of the establishment where Myers purchased the sandwich also has been quoted as saying he did not believe Myers was armed.
However, just because he didn’t rob the store or flourish a handgun doesn’t mean he was unarmed. What’s more, Myers was completely capable of retrieving a handgun after purchasing a sandwich even if he was unarmed when entering that business.
Furthermore, Myers was actively on house arrest and monitored by an ankle bracelet for the crime of Unlawful Use of Weapons. For the record, it’s difficult to get charged with Unlawful Use of Weapons in Missouri because you have to prove, for example, in a flourishing that the firearm was “readily capable of lethal use.” If you shoot at someone, at least that much is proven. However, if you simply point a weapon at someone and don’t fire, it is an effective defense to say that the gun was unloaded. There are other crimes you can be charged with (for example robbery if you take any property from your victim during that use of force), but “unlawful use” is not one of them in that case.
So far there is zero (0) evidence that the officer lied. The only refrain from the mob is the default “Cops are evil” and “Cops are liars.” Both notions have nothing to do with this specific case.
The City Police largely kept their distance until an officer was injured. Riot police moved into the area and several people were maced in the process. For the record, mace is not tear gas, though its effects are ironically worse. Several businesses were looted, glass broken and possibly burglarized. During the struggle, a knife was thrown at another officer. Knife in question pictured below.
The start of the “weekend of resistance” began with a relatively minor protest at Justice Services on Carondelet in Clayton. While the crowd was not overtly violent, the class acts present had no problem yelling racial slurs at black officers holding the line. There was steady rain all day which combined with the fact that the protests didn’t begin until around three on a Friday ended by around 4:30 or 5.
Later on there was a larger protest near the Ferguson Police Station. S. Florissant was shut down just north and south of the Police Department. Besides an incident around Nine PM where a Florissant Officer had the back window of his patrol car shot out near I-70 and Bermuda, the protests were largely uneventful. There was no aid call in reference to protests. There was a large fight at the North Hanley Metro station that resulted in an aid call later but it seemed to be connected to a party bus and there isn’t any evidence that it was connected with the protesting at least as far as I could tell standing around up there.
Eventually the crowd in front of the police department decided to travel into the city back to South Grand. These protests were also largely uneventful, besides terroristic chants like,
“Who do we want?”
“How do we want him?”
Without the violence and widespread looting indicative of the first several nights in Ferguson, there really wasn’t any need for tear gas. Humorously, the notion that riot police and MRAPs (Bearcats) were inciting the crowd to violence is a claim that as of 10/10/2014 has been completely debunked. The city police on S. Grand were using full riot gear and MRAPS rolling up the street while we have yet to see anything remotely close to the violence in Ferguson back in August.
There were significant peaceful protests during the day in the city and abroad. At night the protests remained relatively peaceful between the police department and the south Grand location. Shots fired continued throughout Ferguson but these have become so common place that they barely warrant referencing anymore. A car near the Sharondale Circle apartments off of Ferguson Avenue were struck by at least two bullets. These apartments are just down the road from the McDonalds I referenced in “Bloody Sunday.” This is the same McDonalds where HuffPo reporter Ryan Reilly was arrested for trespassing back in August.
The only occurence that really warrants mentioning on Saturday was the sit-in conducted at the QuikTrip on Vandeventer in South St. Louis City. Patrons and employees locked themselves within the business as protesters approached fearing the worst. Fortunately, the crowd was largely peaceful outside even if they were trespassing. Well, to be fair, at least the crowd was peaceful when compared to what happened at the former QuikTrip at W. Florissant and Nesbit in Ferguson. Numerous people were arrested and several were maced when city riot police rolled in and dispersed the crowd after they refused lawful orders. Interestingly, even this use of force didn’t result in mass looting which was blamed on those of us in the riot response in Ferguson back in August. Myth busted.
There were a few minor protests and prayer vigils, as well as some arrests, but not a whole lot of note happened. St. Louis University (SLU) has become an apparent focal point for these protests, presumably because of student involvement in the” weekend of resistance.” Many SLU students offered places to stay for the protesters while they were here for the weekend and this idea fully materialized Sunday as a several thousand people apparently occupied SLU’s campus.
“Moral Monday” resulted in a large number of smaller protests over a larger area. Besides the Ferguson Police Department, the targets were largely schizophrenic in nature. QuikTrips all over the region were targeted for demonstrations and sit-ins. These protesters either wanted to capitalize on the demonstrable fear indicative of what happened to the QuikTrip on W. Florissant or they had no idea what the business now represents as a symbol to the region. Additionally, a fair number of local Wal-Marts were shut down due to actual protests and threats of protests. Lots of people were arrested and the protests even extended briefly across the Missouri River into St. Charles, the perceived Mecca of local White Flight.
On a particularly ironic note, protesters demonstrated outside of Emerson Electric during the morning on Monday. As other businesses are pulling up stakes and leaving Ferguson in droves, Emerson instead opted to do as follows:
“On September 18, 2014, Emerson Electric Co. (Emerson) reported the launch of Ferguson Forward program, which is a comprehensive, multifaceted education and employment program to support renewed community enrichment and development in the Ferguson and North County area. Emerson Chairman and CEO, David N. Farr, who inaugurated the launch, said that the program represents “renewed commitment” to the people in an area surrounding Emerson’s headquarters – which has remained at the Ferguson location for the past 70 years. Farr added, “Ferguson Forward programs will be targeted to assure educational resources are available when they are needed – starting from the beginning.”
Talk about biting the hand that feeds.
To sum up, there were lots of protests, but there really isn’t a coherent message anymore. Lots of national professional protest organizations like the AFL-CIO, Occupy, and a few oddly placed pro-Palestinian groups helped to make a large event without clear purpose. What’s more, burning American flags alienated the Veterans groups associated with the movement who have now gone their separate ways. Justice for Mike Brown is an abstract idea that has become so faded and murky that no one really has a clear articulable reason for what they want out of these protests (if they ever did) except for further justification to continue the North County/City block party that has been going on for the past couple of weeks.
The St. Louis County Executive debates between Steve Stenger and Rick Stream at UMSL are scheduled for Tuesday, 10/14/2014 around noon. Stay tuned for further.