I’ve already discussed the “findings” from the DOJ’s latest report on the St. Louis County Response to Ferguson. However, buried underneath the findings is a great deal of evidence confirming many of the violent actions I’ve chronicled in this blog from the beginning. The evidence ironically justifies most of the tactics and optics that the DOJ criticized. Even those actions which cannot be justified are given a much more understandable context from the violence perpetrated by “peaceful protesters” against the police and innocent members of the Ferguson community.
Quick Facts (from August):
- 13 Days of Criminal Unrest and Rioting
- 10 of those days resulted in gunshots fired by persons other than police
- Excluding Brown, at least 6 people were shot
- 39 Police Officers Injured
What follows is a timeline of the DOJ’s buried evidence:
Day 1.) 8/09/2014
Radio traffic (PG 5)
1202: Michael Brown is shot to death.
1208: Ferguson PD requests County Officers for crowd control.
1257: Shots Fired.
1315: Shots Fired.
1344: Tactical Officers are requested indicating they, as well as their gear (IE, the “tanks”), were not on scene and therefore not provoking the shots fired.
1355: Shots fired. First Code 1000 is called.
1415: Shots fired. Described as “like a full-automatic weapon.” Code 2000 is called.
1445: Bearcat and Tactical Officers arrive negating the repeated claims of incitement by tactical officers.
In other words, this tweet by State Senator, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, “@MariaChappelleN: There was no gun fire! We have video of that afternoon” was a lie. The repeated claim that officers instigated all of the violence in Ferguson by responding to a prayer service with tanks was a lie. The claim that there were no riots or violence except that perpetrated by police was a lie.
Day 2.) 8/10/2014
My account published 8/15/14:
2025: A Code 1000 and immediately after a Code 2000 is implemented after three county police vehicles are damaged (PG 14).
“Video evidence and interviews indicated that there was looting of local businesses with windows being broken and objects being thrown at officers and police vehicles” (PG 12).
“The size and intensity of the mass gatherings were significant—broadly estimated by law enforcement to have “several hundreds” of people—as was the property damage. In their attempt to gain control of the situation, several agencies deployed armored vehicles and canines. Armored vehicles from the St. Louis Metropolitan PD, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and the St. Charles County PD (which was not part of this assessment) were deployed to protect officers from thrown objects and from gunfire as reported by law enforcement” (PG 12).
“Based on CAD log reviews, law enforcement began responding to looting calls and burglar alarms, and more than 30 area businesses were looted on August 10” (PG 15).
Day 3.) 8/11/2014
“That night, the group of protesters became even larger than previous nights. Police reported that demonstrators were throwing rocks, bottles, frozen bottles of water, Molotov cocktails, and other objects. The mass gatherings became more vocal and aggressive with burning of businesses and other property damage, including looting and breaking windows. Law enforcement responded with the use of armored vehicles, tear gas, PepperBall projectiles, bean bag rounds, and Stingerballs to disperse the crowds” (PG 16).
“While some protesters were still peacefully demonstrating, others grew more aggressive and threw objects, set fires, attempted to overturn a patrol car, and looted businesses. Law enforcement deployed tear gas and continued its use for several nights (see figure 7 on page 15). Law enforcement reported that armored vehicles were deployed to protect officers; the powerful public address system on the vehicle was used to make announcements to protesters, and the vehicles served as a means to carry equipment and supplies in close proximity to deployed officers” (PG 16).
Day 4.) 8/12/2014
St. Louis Metro Police Chief, Sam Dotson, stated, “One side, the chiefly side of me, wants to always be there to support law enforcement in the city or in the county… My personal side was concerned about the things I saw transpiring in Ferguson. My gut told me what I was seeing were not tactics that I would use in the city and I would never put officers in situations that I would not do myself” (PG 17).
Meanwhile, back on PG 14, “The St. Louis County PD had no tear gas or other crowd-control agents until the St. Louis Metropolitan PD SWAT team arrived.”
SEE ALSO, Post Grand Jury Riots in November within the City Limits.
SEE ALSO, Mansuer Ball-bey Riots just this August.
“At the request of the St. Louis County PD, a no-fly zone was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration for a three-mile radius around the city of Ferguson, restricting flights below 3,000 feet unless the aircraft was approaching or leaving Lambert International Airport. This restriction was requested after St. Louis County PD reported that a police helicopter was shot at multiple times the day before” (PG 18).
“According to the interviews, over the next 24 hours, through the evening of August 12 and early morning hours of August 13, protesters from outside the region—including increasing numbers of those intent on exploiting the demonstrations—arrived in Ferguson. In interviews, law enforcement intelligence personnel stated that intelligence suggested some individuals might be attempting to promote aggressive law enforcement responses and actions with the purpose of focusing public attention away from the action of protesters and more upon the police response to those actions” (PG 18).
Day 5.) 8/13/2014
“That day, the highway patrol’s SWAT team deployed non-lethal munitions toward a vehicle quickly approaching a roadblock on Canfield Drive. The SWAT team also assisted a woman whose vehicle had been shot multiple times by an unidentified man on Canfield Drive; she sustained minor injuries” (PG 19).
Day 6.) 8/14/2014
“In an August 14 press conference, as authorized by the State of Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order designating the Missouri State Highway Patrol as the formal incident command agency for the Ferguson response and specified the highway patrol’s Captain Ronald S. Johnson as the incident commander” (PG 20).
“And neither the St. Louis County PD chief nor the Ferguson PD chief were consulted or informed about the change in command—they learned of it through media reports. According to interviews, some officers believed it was a questionable decision for the highway patrol to be designated responsible for incident command in an urban area where they had limited operational experience” (PG 20).
The DOJ ends with positive feedback from the community regarding Ron Johnson’s change in philosophy. They leave out the fact that three officers were injured that night because it directly conflicts with the narrative that Johnson’s presence brought peace to Ferguson. This omission by the DOJ is made more egregious by the fact that the three injured officers are included in the injury tally on PG 110 of the same report.
Furthermore, the following is from a press release by the St. Louis County Police Officers Association in reference to 8/14:
“Our officers were ordered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) not to deploy with personal protective equipment such as helmets and shields. Subsequently, last night, an officer was assaulted when a thrown brick struck his person. Thankfully, the officer was not seriously injured. It is of note that several patrol vehicles were damaged by thrown debris, a news photographer was assaulted, a McDonalds was nearly burglarized, and a person showed up at Christian Northeast Hospital after being shot in the protest area. All of this occurred last night after control was relinquished to the MSHP.”
Day 7.) 8/15/2014
“According to Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Johnson, Ferguson PD Chief Jackson had talked with Johnson and St. Louis County PD Chief Belmar prior to releasing the robbery video, and both urged Jackson not to release it” (PG 21).
“Incident Commander Johnson expressed his opinion in the news media, saying, “I would have liked to have been consulted” (PG 21).”
“On the evening of August 15, the number of people not lawfully and peacefully protesting increased, and there were reports of Molotov cocktails and other objects being thrown at officers, including rocks and water bottles filled with urine” (PG 22).
The urine comment is interesting because it is also what’s alleged to have been in the bottle that was thrown at the St. Ann Officer who lost it and got himself fired.
“A large crowd was trying to get into the market and other stores, and members of the crowd began looting. Law enforcement officers were standing on the opposite side of the street with a large number of lawful protesters in between the police and the looters. A Missouri State Highway Patrol commander stated that to get to the looters and rioters, police would have had to go through the protesters. After assessing the situation, Captain Johnson made the decision to stand down and not respond to the market looting because the risk to the lives of the protesters, rioters, and law enforcement personnel would have increased substantially had law enforcement engaged” (PG 22-23).
Let this last quote soak in. The DOJ thinks that individuals can be “lawfully” protesting while blocking law enforcement from responding to people looting at the periphery of their protest. Any other organization knows this activity as “aiding and abetting” or being “accessories.” In Missouri, this behavior is known as the crime of “hindering prosecution.” Furthermore, what is there to fear from lawfully assembled peaceful protesters? Oh, right:
“Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers at McDonald’s became surrounded by 100 to 150 protesters and called for help. The highway patrol SWAT team and County Tactical Team responded, and protesters began throwing numerous bottles. Three troopers were struck” (PG 23).
I’m pretty sure they’re confusing Dominos with McDonalds.
“In addition, protesters became aggressive and looked for and exploited issues to provoke law enforcement to respond. This included the use of racial slurs and challenges against the loyalties of minority law enforcement officers. African-American officers were singled out with protesters calling them “sellouts to Uncle Tom” and even more graphic insults.
The targeting of the officers became so bad that a sergeant reported, “after 20–25 minutes [on the front lines], we pull them off the line for their safety.”
Some individuals sought the personal information of law enforcement officers, such as their names, addresses, and social security numbers. Law enforcement reported that some individuals began harassing members of law enforcement on an individual level. This included using their social security numbers for filing false tax claims, placing false liens on their property, taking out credit cards in their names, and parking in front of their homes or on the street where law enforcement officers lived or had family” (PG 23.)
“According to law enforcement interviews, for a few days, law enforcement also noted increased gang presence in Ferguson associated with the demonstrations. Intelligence units indicated that at one point, rival gangs called a truce to participate in the demonstrations. However, by around August 15, the gang presence began to dissipate. Throughout all this, the majority of the protesters were St. Louis area community members concerned about their community” (PG 23-24).
Pastor Ranita Lampkin posing with local men who really enjoy color coordinating.
Day 8.) 8/16/2014
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol, responsible for incident command, was ordered to implement a curfew under the governor’s authority to declare a state of emergency” (PG 24).
“The Missouri State Highway Patrol SWAT team also observed crowds using vehicles as barricades to block the roadway. That night, August 16, seven people were arrested for failure to disperse after the curfew took effect. Also during this time, a police car had been shot at, and police responded to a shooting near a restaurant on West Florissant Avenue. The victim, shot by an unknown assailant, was transferred to a local hospital.
One officer stated, “The chiefs had planned to walk down the street [that night], but intelligence [officers] received information that there was an ambush waiting for them.” Because of the intelligence, the chiefs did not walk the streets” (PG 24).
” In the early morning hours of August 17 (12:13 a.m.), St. Louis Metropolitan PD officers reported that about 150 protesters were refusing to disperse. The protesters began walking down West Florissant Avenue toward Original Red’s BBQ and by 12:23 a.m. had completely blocked the street. As the crowd grew in both size and hostility, according to law enforcement, tear gas was deployed at 12:48 a.m. A few minutes later, at 12:57 a.m., a person was shot by an unknown assailant in the area of the protests and taken to Christian Northeast Hospital in St. Louis. The streets remained blocked until around 1:30 a.m. There were seven arrests by the Missouri State Highway Patrol for failure to disperse” (PG 25).
The rumor at the time was that the person shot on 8/16-17 died at the hospital. I’ve been unable to confirm or discount this without a victim name. With how little willingness there has been from police commanders to acknowledge the death of Deandre Joshua during the Grand Jury Riots of November, it seems unlikely that they would acknowledge another homicide earlier on when media vitriol toward St. Louis region police was at its height. The notion that this person may have died at a hospital outside the Ferguson area, may have also been used to prevent association with the unrest.
Day 9.) 8/17/2014
My Account published 8/19/2014:Bloody Sunday
“That same evening at 7:28 p.m., law enforcement reported that a crowd of approximately 1,000 people had assembled near 9191 West Florissant Avenue (about a half block south of Canfield Drive). The crowd was becoming aggressive, and during the next four hours, several businesses were looted. At 8:57 p.m., several hundred people attempted to overrun the command post. Because of the size and character of the demonstrations, at 9:03 p.m., the incident command post made an emergency mutual aid request for law enforcement agencies in the county to respond to the command post. Minutes later, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C headquarters was requested to dispatch all available zone cars to respond immediately to the command post. A law enforcement helicopter was dispatched to fly over West Florissant Avenue and Ferguson Avenue to monitor the demonstrations. The SWAT unit was deployed and started receiving gunfire.
Between 9:12 p.m. and 9:22 p.m., police teams at West Florissant Avenue and Solway Avenue called for assistance, teams at West Florissant Avenue and Sharondale Circle called for assistance, and the McDonalds on West Florissant Avenue called for assistance with employees reporting that the restaurant was being overrun and that they had locked themselves in the storeroom.
Between 9:40 p.m. and 11:01 p.m., there were reports of several businesses being looted, the Dellwood Market being set on fire, a large fight involving about 150 people occurring and Lorna Lane and Chambers Road (a new location for disturbances, about 300 yards east of West Florissant Avenue), and 12 reports of shots being fired. At 11:47 p.m., the news media were instructed to get out of the “hot zone” and return to the designated media area, near the command post. The SWAT unit was deployed and started receiving gunfire, which resulted in damage to the armored vehicles. The St. Louis County PD reported using the armored vehicle (referred to as the Bear) for Chief Belmar’s protection when he rode in the area. In addition, the St. Louis County PD reported that law enforcement deployed tear gas and less-lethal crowd dispersal projectiles in response to the gunfire and that both canines and other armored vehicles were readied for use, largely as backup resources, but were visible to demonstrators” (PG 26).
“This night had the worst violence, especially before the midnight curfew went into effect. Rather than eliminating violence, the curfew appeared to simply change the time the violence occurred” (PG 26).
Day 10.) 8/18/2014
“The National Guard was sent to protect the incident command post and police vehicles, freeing up law enforcement officers to be deployed to the streets. Members of the National Guard were never involved in crowd control, although they did interact with community members at checkpoints stationed at the entrances and exits to the parking lot where the command post was located” (PG 26).
“At approximately 4:10 p.m., West Florissant Avenue was again closed to traffic because of the presence of the protesters. Throughout the late afternoon and into the evening, there were ongoing issues of blocked streets and sidewalks, objects being thrown at officers, and some businesses suffering property damage. Threats against officers in the area of Canfield Drive were reported, and a large fight erupted with people in the fight throwing bottles at each other.
At 5:20 p.m., protesters started their march on West Florissant Avenue. Throughout the evening, large numbers of protesters gathered at various locations along West Florissant Avenue. Intelligence officers identified six people who were “part of an anarchist group,” shots were being fired from the crowd, and objects were being thrown at police. Law enforcement responded with SWAT and tear gas. Tear gas was dispersed twice, at 10:52 p.m. and 11:38 p.m. At 11:29 p.m., Original Red’s BBQ was reported on fire” (PG 27).
Day 11.) 8/19/2014
“One police officer was injured from thrown rocks and frozen water bottles” (PG 28).
“Police officers on West Florissant Avenue and Canfield Drive came under “heavy gunfire,” and two guns were confiscated in a police stop of a vehicle near the media staging area. The St. Louis Metropolitan PD reported shots fired from an unknown direction at 10:01 p.m., 10:36 p.m., 10:44 p.m., 11:05 p.m., and 1:14 a.m. The most serious occurrence was the shooting of two people by unknown assailants in the crowd. Johnson made the point that while law enforcement had been criticized for the use of armored vehicles, one was used to extract one of the gunshot victims to avoid ongoing gunfire and thrown objects” (PG 28).
“During the press conference, Captain Johnson made comments directly to the media, saying, “I want to address the role of the media in what is going on here. Tonight, media repeatedly had to be asked to return to the sidewalks and get out of the streets when clashes were going on in the streets.”
Officers interviewed on several occasions stated that members of the media would insert themselves between the police and a disorderly crowd and then complain about police interference with their reporting. Interviewed officers also stated that on several occasions cameras would be pointed toward the police from the demonstrators’ perspective, which at night made it difficult for the officers to see with the camera lights on them” (PG 28).
Day 12.) 8/20/2014
“Despite the fact that three officers were injured, that there were threats to kill police officers, and that 47 people were arrested for various illegal acts, it was a calmer night on August 20, as compared to previous nights” (PG 28).
Day 13.) 8/21/2014
“Despite the crowds overall being more peaceful, seven officers were reported as injured during the evening. There were reports of armed persons in the area, but no shots were fired, according to law enforcement” (PG 29).
“Throughout the assessment period, there had been a total of 236 demonstration-related arrests (36 felonies and 200 misdemeanors). The police response to the demonstrations did not result in any loss of life or serious injury to the protesters.”
There is a great deal of focus on bad optics, or in simpler terms how something looks bad. “Overwatch” Snipers, Armored Car “Bearcats,” and Canine Units are frequent targets of DOJ disdain but lack any demonstrative harm to community members. The discussion of bad optics at face value is a thinly veiled continuation of the early assertions by protesters and the media that violent reactions by protesters were limited outliers incited by police (and therefore the protesters were blameless).
The notion of which is doubly wrong. On one hand, the timeline disproves the incitement theory by demonstrating that shots fired happened repeatedly and immediately at the first scene in Canfield setting the tone for things to come and predating the use of tactical officers/vehicles. Furthermore, even if bad optics were to blame for community incitement, that is not a valid argument nor excuse for violence.
While canines were brought in, it is unclear if they were on scene by the time of the first gunshots. Interestingly, in reference to canines, there is zero indication of anyone being bit. The DOJ makes a comment about how canine presence for crowd control is acceptable under County Policy, but is widely considered unacceptable in the law enforcement community. Humorously, St. Louis County Police policies are all certified under CALEA, the national accreditation gold standard service founded by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Furthermore, the DOJ’s report makes continued reference to good behavior by many of the same protesters who would engage in bad behavior later on in an effort to minimize the bad. A domestic batterer doesn’t get a pass for all the times he didn’t beat his wife. A heroin addict doesn’t get a pass for all the times he didn’t shoot up. A violent protester doesn’t get a pass for all the times he didn’t set things on fire or shoot at people.
The evidence is clear:
Violence in Ferguson was life threatening, injurious, widespread, and deserving of a tactical response.