The Front Lines in Ferguson: Scenes From a Chaotic Night of Michael Brown Protests

A man watches as police walk through a cloud of smoke during a clash with protesters Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent Wednesday night, with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Photo: Jeff Roberson

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.

A few protesters responded by throwing objects at police.

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.”

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.

His wife said on Twitter that he’s been charged with unlawful assembly, and will likely be held for 24 hours.

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!”

Scenes From the Front Lines in Ferguson