The protests over the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown last weekend in Ferguson, Missouri, escalated on Wednesday night as people ignored a request by police earlier in the day that "groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner." The arrest of two reporters around 8 p.m. brought new attention to the aggressive tactics used by police in their effort to subdue the crowd. As the night wore on, officers in riot gear used tear gas and rubber bullets on the roughly 350 protesters, and Twitter exploded with images that look like something out of a war zone.
"I've had enough of being pushed around because of the color of my skin, I'm sick of this police brutality and I'm angry cause of what they done to Michael Brown," said an 18-year-old who would only give Reuters his first name, Terrell. "I'm going to keep coming back here night after night until we get justice," he said. Here's a look at the scene in Ferguson on Wednesday night.
Crowds have been gathering around a QuikTrip near where Brown was shot, which was looted and burned down during rioting on Sunday night. Local station KSDK reported that police set up barricades and were closely guarding the area before 6 p.m. The demonstration was peaceful at the time.
As the sun set, the crowd was pushed back and repeatedly told to disperse, but many refused. Police began using tear gas at 9 p.m.
"This is no longer a peaceful assembly. Go home or be subject to arrest," says the loudspeaker. "— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 14, 2014
Protesters linking arms, anticipating an advance of police line westward along W Florissant pic.twitter.com/ckonEyUZmK— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
Generosity amid chaos: Kayla Reed handing out paper masks to protect people from gas pic.twitter.com/kIQOkr830l— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
Police: "This is your final warning." Protesters at front not nudging pic.twitter.com/IdbP8s962Z— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
A few protesters responded by throwing objects at police.
Sudden turn for worse at demo after a couple of bottles thrown in direction of police line. People scrambled. Siren blared from swat truck— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 14, 2014
Some residents opened their doors to provide shelter to protesters fleeing the tear gas. St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer David Carson tweeted:
KSDK aired video of tear gas being fired at Al Jazeera America reporters setting up for a broadcast:
The incident followed the arrest of two reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post. Supposedly, they were taken into custody for trespassing at a McDonald's where they were eating and working. They were quickly released with no explanation after fellow journalists began calling the police department.
During a press conference late on Wednesday night, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said ten people had been arrested. "We’ve done everything we can to demonstrate a remarkable amount of restraint," he said. "If there was an easy way to fix this, we would have already solved the problem."
Belmar reported that one of his officers was injured, and said of the journalists' arrest, "I understand the freedom of the press."
Belmar said he and his men were "disturbed" by sporadic sounds of gunfire Wednesday night, some thought to be fired at officers.— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014
Officer taken to hospital with apparent broken ankle; spokesman for police said a protester threw a brick at him. #Ferguson— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) August 14, 2014
Myia, in her nurse's uniform, and Ivory. Hit with rubber bullets and tear gas for trying to pick up Ivory's kids. pic.twitter.com/7C4yQSb6jD— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 14, 2014
Antonio French, Alderman of the 21st Ward in St. Louis, was among those arrested. French has been broadcasting the events in Ferguson on Vine all week.
Citizen journalism by @AntonioFrench has been biggest public service I've ever seen. Appalled, not surprised, at reports he's been detained— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014
His wife said on Twitter that he's been charged with unlawful assembly, and will likely be held for 24 hours.
@AntonioFrench being booked now. Not sure what the charge is yet. Was ordered out of his car and arrested because he "didn't listen".— Senka (@senka) August 14, 2014
As the conflict entered its sixth day early on Thursday morning, a crowd gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department to demand French's release, chanting, "Hell no, we won't go, till you free Antonio!"