Last night, more than 3,000 people thought they would be safe as they joined together to march peacefully down W. Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, four hours before the 12:00 midnight curfew imposed yesterday by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
But at 8:30 p.m., the police forces waged their most brutal attack yet on protesters in the days since young Mike Brown was murdered on August 9.
At the end of the assault, the government announced that the National Guard will be deployed to Ferguson.
The war on Ferguson’s Black community is employing all the weapons of a modern military. The question is: Do the powers-that-be truly believe they can extinguish the people’s quest for justice with more and more police forces?
The truth is, the federal, state and local governments see much deeper implications if they accede to the people’s struggle and bring peace on a community suffering the loss of another Black youth, by putting a cop on trial.
They fear the example. They fear the power of the people to challenge the enormous police state of towns, states and the federal government.
That is why almost 50 FBI agents are coming into Ferguson.
They are not coming to investigate the killing of Brown.
Nobody in the Black community believes that. Nor does anyone believe that it takes weeks and months, as some officials have claimed, for the investigation to be completed.
In response to Gov. Nixon’s claim that he is seeking to keep the peace in Ferguson, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Meet the Press today, challenged him. “Well, governor, there was peace on Thursday night, on Thursday night after you appointed the state police chief to take over from the county. But then the Ferguson police chief released that video [alleging Mike Brown shoplifted cigars]. What justifies releasing the video about the convenience store while there are still no details about what happened with the shooting itself. That is what caused everything again to erupt on Friday night and eventually led to the curfew to be imposed. …
“Shouldn’t Chief Jackson be fired or told to step down?”
After the hours-long attack was over, in the midst of a heavily militarized zone of siege by the cops, the police forces held an emergency press conference at 1:15 a.m., to justify the attack.
The scenario the police depicted to the media was false. They claim they had to fire on the crowd and order dispersal after several gunshots were fired at them.
Those of us at the front of the march who experienced firsthand the attack by the police know that is not what happened.
The evening’s incident began at 8:00 p.m. Starting at the corner of Chambers and W. Florissant Ave., we walked together with a committed and energetic crowd of 2,000, which quickly grew to 3,000. In this march there were many more young women and girls, parents with children and babies.
As a veteran of hundreds of marches and protests, I was struck by the respect that the people had for the leaders and monitors of the march, and with each other. Later, as the police assault took hold, I would witness and experience great acts of courage as young men put themselves in harm’s way to help escape the police rout.
The likely reason for the police attack is that local community leaders announced that the people would march to the police station. The police claim they acted against the lead part of the march because we were going to march to their command post at a nearby shopping mall.
That again is false. The lead organizer announced over the bullhorn several times that the march would go to the police station. There was no inflammatory language used.
As the protesters approached Jenning Station Rd. to turn right to the police station, several armored, militarized vehicles appeared suddenly near the Target store complex to completely block the protest.
A flash grenade was fired at the front of the march and rubber bullets began to hit the crowd. Tear gas choked and incapacitated many people.
The next hour was an all-out assault on a march in full retreat. There was no justification for rubber bullets or the tear gas being used on a crowd that was clearly walking or running to the far end of Florissant Ave., where the march started.
Despite the retreat of the protesters, the trucks continued to fire rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, along a straight route where there were very few places to hide from the projectiles.
Several people, including ANSWER activists Ana Santoyo and Arthur Sangster, were trapped by the police. They could not leave and were arrested on failure-to-disperse charges. Jamier Sale, also an ANSWER activist, was forced to hide from the marauding police and stayed hidden behind a building until curfew was over, along with several other men.
Many people were not allowed to return home in that area after they were driven out, nor allowed to retrieve their cars. Consequently many people were stranded on the outskirts of the militarized zone, exposed to further danger.
The Black community of Ferguson has a clear and simple demand: Indict police officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown.
But the rulers and police have a different answer, they are heaping more repressive forces in Ferguson.
The demand for indictment of the cop who murdered Mike Brown has not abated one bit, it has only grown.
It is urgent that communities and organizations across the United States join in solidarity to demand that the police repression in Ferguson end, and that Darren Wilson be indicted for murder.