6th anniversary of FERGUSON uprising: a film

Today, 9th August 2020, is the 6th anniversary of the Ferguson uprising of 2014. Here’s a film called “Touch the Sky: stories, subversion & complexities of Ferguson”

For subtitles – either in English or in French – click on CC on the bottom right.

Trailer: https://archive.org/details/touch-the-sky-trailer

Film’s website here

For details about the uprising and some critical comments in written form, see “ferguson fighting fear with fire”(2014 – 2015)

See also “Looting back – An Account of the Ferguson Uprising”

“Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”

T-Bone Slim

Script of film

 

[This film consists solely of found footage.

No permission was asked or granted.]

 

In August 2014, Ferguson, Missouri exploded in social unrest.

Some would like to say they saw it coming.

That this St. Louis suburb was unique.

That it was a powder keg.

 

But the conditions in Ferguson weren’t particularly worse than any of the surrounding areas. Or really, anywhere in the country.

 

And it’s not that the people of St. Louis were inherently more rebellious either.

 

In fact, when riots spread across the country in both 1968 and 1992, St. Louis was known for its “good behavior.”

 

The truth is, Ferguson exploded simply because thousands of people wanted it to.

 

People ain’t sayin’ nothin’. They not doin’ nothin’ across the country. They not goin’ for it here. St. Louis ain’t goin’ for it. I was here. I was out here. That’s all I can say. I was out here with the community. That’s all I can say. I was out here standin’ side-by-side with the community. I mean, I don’t think its over, honestly. I just think they got a taste of what fightin’ back means.

 

This film was born from our experiences in Ferguson. And we hope it speaks to those of us who desire to see the spirit of those few months last a lifetime.

 

[August 9, 2014]

 

[Warning:

The following scene may be graphic.]

 

I watched a man go down. Like he just fuckin’ just killed him. Period. It wasn’t no tryin’ to protect himself or nothin’, he killed him.

 

Police just shot this man for no reason.

 

Around 2 o’clock, there was a large uproar from the crowd. Hundreds of people out here, very upset about what happened. This continues to be a volatile situation.

 

Settle down?! That motherfucker shot my baby 8 times! Settle down?! Kiss my ass! That’s what you do! Tell me to settle the fuck down?!

 

The crowd became more angered, even someone firing shots. Meanwhile, Brown’s body laid in the street for hours.

 

As day became night, more and more people became frustrated with the police. We quickly left because there was a dumpster fire.

 

They had dogs out on everybody, bruh. We didn’t do shit. And then Ferguson came. Ferguson left. County came, they made Ferguson leave, bruh. They took over. I’m talkin’ ’bout detectives and everything was out there. State troopers, everything was out there. Mothafuckas from St. Charles out there, bruh.

 

Please don’t kill me! Don’t kill us! Put yo hands up!

 

Y’all keep my family in y’all prayers, ’cause like, we goin’ through a tough time. We just lost our favorite cousin Mike Mike.

 

Little dude, 17, got shot 9 times unarmed by the police.

 

My nigga was already on his knees, like “Bruh!” You know what I’m sayin’? “Don’t shoot me.” Already his hands threw up. Bruh, c’mon man! What kind of shit is that?!

 

Shot a little nigga down today for nothin’ boy. Fuck 12!

 

Now he gone. I miss him, like, a lot.

 

You know what I say? Fuck the Police! Ready.

 

My city is fucked up, boy. At least the police is.

 

St. Louis is off the fuckin’ chains right now.

 

You gonna bring out dogs, and M-16s, and AR-15s, and all this big shit? Aww yea? We can get like that too!

 

Fuck the police. We wagin’ war on these mothafuckas. Fuck ’em, ya hear me? Thug life, man. Shit. nigga, fuck ’em.

 

[Touch the Sky

Stories, Subversions, and Complexities of Ferguson]

 

[Part One: The Story]

 

[August 10

Day 1]

 

[Ferguson Police Department]

 

We want answers! We want answers!

 

[Canfield Green Apartments]

 

It’s bullshit man. That’s why you see all these people out here right now. All these people. ‘Cause of what happened.

 

I’m here to come out here and see all the people out here for the candlelight tonight.

 

Where my people at? Everybody out here too. It’s real.

 

So at the end of the day, they goin’ answer for this, god. That’s it, I got no more to say.

 

No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

 

We in the streets right now. You know what it is. For the dead homeboys. Stop the violence, man. Straight up, man. Stop the violence, man. Straight up.

 

Canfield and West Florissant. They killed that boy down here on Canfield. Motherfuckers goin’ crazy. Shuttin’ this bitch down. We don’t give a fuck.

 

What’s up, man? No justice, no peace, man. That’s what it is in St. Louis, man. We tired of the police killin’ our young black brothers, man. That’s what it is, man.

 

A lot of cops ahead. I don’t know what’s goin’ on up here, but we out here though. We on West Florissant.

 

Do not throw anything!

 

People are startin’ to throw things.

 

What, he goin’ sit at home? He goin’ get paid for killin’ that young man? That’s my son, that’s your son, that’s your son, that’s all our sons!

 

We holdin’ it down for the community: Caucasian, African-American, Asian, everyone, it doesn’t matter what color you are.

 

Man, they lined up. Boy, they deep down here. Uh oh.

 

They are throwin’ shit at the police cars right now. They breakin’ shit. No justice! There is no justice. No fuckin’ justice. No justice, no peace.

 

Fuck the police!

 

We’re out here at the QuikTrip where the incident started. And lootin’ and ransackin’ QuikTrip. Ohhhhh!

 

It’s so fuckin’ live!

 

Oh, man! Lootin’ and Ransackin’.

 

Look at QuikTrip. Oh my god! Where the lottery tickets?

 

They destroyed that mothafucka. Hey, let me get that bottle!

 

I did speak with a 13 year-old, she lives in that neighborhood. You said you’re scared. What are you seeing?

 

I’m seein’ people doin’ stuff, like breakin’ into stores and stuff, and just doin’ bad stuff. They destroy everything.

 

Turn up for Mike Mike. Pray for St. Louis. We turnt up out here. We live as hell. Whole St. Louis came out to fuck with ’em.

 

There it is. Justice for Mike Brown.

 

Justice!

 

That’s what people got right now. We got cartons. That’s crazy man.

 

They lootin’ the QuikTrip.

 

2014.

 

People are running in right now.

 

Not a shot, not a shot.

 

Not a shot. Fireworks.

 

Just a firework.

 

They fuckin’ up the QuikTrip. Fuckin’ it up.

 

Hey QuikTrip. West Florissant. Everything free. On me nigga. Everything on me.

 

That’s where all the money at in there, boy.

 

Push that mothafucka out the window.

 

Alright, now let’s go to witness Robert Cotton on the phone. And I understand you are there on the scene, Robert. Tell us what you see.

 

I walked down to the QuikTrip that has been looted. And there was a guy pulled up with a pickup truck. And they’re tryin’ to load the US Bank ATM machine up.

 

Hittin’ the ATM with his own car.

 

Get that shit nigga!

 

Oh my god. This is fuckin’ full- This is full-scale rioting. There’s no other way to put this. Look at this. They runnin’- I don’t know what liquor store this is on West Florissant.

 

Sam’s Meat Market and More.

 

God damn. Shit. And that’s how you know it’s time to go. People are doin’ 90. Shit.

 

And they are runnin’ up in there. This is like, fuckin’ surreal. L.A. 1992. This is so sad, man.

 

There’s people walkin’ out of there with handful of steaks. They’re settin’ their dumpsters on fire. And they don’t care, you know. They just feel, you know: “Hey, the police ain’t stoppin’ us. We’re gonna do it.”

 

Man, I straight went in the mothafuckin’ beauty supply store. Mothafuckas walkin’ out with big bags of Kank line and all types of shit. This is crazy! Like, for real!

 

Right now, it’s a free-for-all here. Everybody’s just running in, grabbing what they can. There are absolutely no police on the scene here. I haven’t seen anything like this since [Hurricane] Katrina in New Orleans.

 

Yea, and it looks like there’s an individual standing in the middle of the street on a cellphone, dancing, bee-bopping around. I have no idea what that is all about.

 

Any updates on shootings overnight?

 

We don’t think that anybody was actually shot. However, all night our guys were hearing shots being fired. And we’re sure that, at least once, the helicopter was gettin’ shot at.

 

Well, Sharon, I was on West Florissant and Canfield, but my photographer Alonzo and I had to get out of the area. While shooting interviews and video, we found out our window had been broken into.

 

R.I.P. QuikTrip.

 

QuikTrip is on fire.

 

Burnin’ up.

 

It is on fire.

 

Wow.

 

Hey, y’all better call the fire department!

 

Burn that mothafucka down!

 

We don’t need know water let that mothafucka burn!

 

The looting has appeared to have spread to Jennings, Dellwood, unincorporated St. Louis County. Most of these people probably just saw it on TV and figured, hey, they’re gonna go and participate.

 

People are running in and just running out with boxes of those hair extensions, anything else they can grab here. I’ve seen children as young as probably 10 years-old go into this store.

 

The Walmart has been looted. What we have been told is that earlier that the employees were forced to take shelter, and then the cops were just surrounded by looters.

 

I see a lot of people with alcohol, sitting on their cars. They seem to be rooting these people on.

 

They jumpin’ in that mothafucka! They in that mothafucka! Damn!

 

Aw, he walked passed him.

 

Get out of there, boy!

 

Goooo, nigga! Get out, nigga!

 

He was already on the ground, man!

 

[August 11-13

Days 2-4]

 

And you have a situation on your hands, mayor. That is for sure. How many businesses total were looted last night?

 

The event began right there at the QuikTrip in Ferguson. But it moved up into Dellwood- many businesses in Dellwood were damaged. Moved on up back into Ferguson again where the Walmart is. And then moved out into unincorporated St. Louis County where the K-Mart was. And then moved further east towards unincorporated areas towards Moline. So, you know, it was region-wide in the North St. Louis County area.

 

I’m talking with two more gentlemen here. One gentlemen says that, you were part of last night, you were part of the group that actually stopped traffic from coming in. Briefly, your reaction to all of this, why?

 

I believe that it needed to happen. I believe that they’re too much worried about what’s goin’ on to their stores and their commerce and everything. They’re not worried about the murder. That’s what I’m worried about.

 

And real briefly from you, your thoughts?

 

I just think that what happened was necessary. To show the police that, you know, they don’t run everything.

 

I don’t think they did enough.

 

(187 [murder] COUNTY POLICE)

(FUCK THE POLICE)

(SNITCHES)

 

The QuikTrip convenience store, that was burned down on Sunday night, has become a rallying point for protesters.

 

You can’t keep tellin’ these guys: “Be quiet. Don’t curse. Pull your pants up.” This, that, and the other. This is they everyday life. And they mad. They’re mad. I’m mad. We should all be mad. We should all be angry because of what’s goin’ on right now.

 

We goin’ be here for two weeks if we have to. It ain’t goin’ away. It’s not. Y’all got to stop doin’ this.

 

Mike Brown! Mike Brown!

 

Now Anne Allred is standing by. We understand she is with the Mayor of Ferguson right now, who has been at the receiving end of some death threats, and some hacking from an international group known as “Anonymous.” So, Ann standing by. Ann?

 

[James Knowles

Ferguson Mayor]

 

Are you scared?

 

Ah, my family’s a little frightened. You know, I’m not. Most of the people that have called, you know, they call, they hang up. They’re a lot of cowards out there.

 

(THE ONLY GOOD COP IS A DEAD COP)

 

And the city’s been hacked, apparently. Web is down, email is down, phones are down, the landlines within the city, fire department, police department, city hall.

 

Well luckily, I mean, we’ve got phones and text messages. You know, they can’t hack- well they haven’t hacked that yet, I shouldn’t say they can’t.

 

Anonymous got all of they addresses. Anonymous got pictures of they wives, pictures of they kids. I done seen they houses. If I really wanted to get angry out here, I could. Let that dude get off. Let him get off like Zimmerman got off, then you gonna see anger. You ain’t gonna be smilin’ no more.

 

This ain’t about just Michael Brown no more. It’s bigger than that. This is for the injustice that’s been done to all the black males that’s been killed by polices.

 

I wish we could get this out to all of our people. It really isn’t black versus white, it’s the government against the people. But they will start with who they call the minority.

 

It’s not a about race. I ain’t got no problem with white people. It’s about badges right now. They do whatever the fuck they want. I feel like there are no reasonable police. You guys are blowing children’s brains out at 12 o’clock noon.

 

Hello! Me and DeAndre here.

As I was saying, this Michael Brown stuff has just gotten out of hand. I mean, Caleb was doin’ somethin’ at the protest.

 

I got my hands on my head!

Please don’t shoot me dead!

 

Justice for Mike Brown! Justice for Mike Brown!

 

I understand as an adult, we’re supposed to say things like, “We don’t condone the rioting.” The only reason I knew what was going on is because QuikTrip burned down. No one listens to a peaceful protest.”

 

We ready for this!

 

We are MIKE BROWN! We are MIKE BROWN!

 

Obama you have done nothing! What have you changed? You haven’t changed shit! You haven’t changed anything! Fuck y’all.

 

We don’t need you bitches on our street. Say with me: Fuck the police! Fuck the police!

 

Uh-oh! Uh-oh!

 

“Please disperse immediately. This is no longer a peaceful protest.”

 

They have complete domain over us. They are like gods. If they tell you not to do something, you cannot do it. And if you do, they will treat you like a dog. You will be shot down- well, at least for a black man. I’m not sure for everybody, but I do understand that. I hope it’s not like that for everybody. It shouldn’t be, it should not be like that for any human being to live on this planet.

 

This guy is so far away. Look, I’m goin’ to show you, right. There’s the QuikTrip. There’s the guy who had the red dot on him. Here are the police officers.

 

It is night five of clashes between the police and people on the streets of Ferguson.

 

This way, this way, this way! They fuckin’ throwin’ teargas at us!

 

It’s not just the QuikTrip that these suspects have looted, and it’s not just Ferguson. Tonight, we’re getting a better look at all the locations hit in St. Louis County.

 

Police investigating a break-in in North County. It happened around 12:30 at Randall’s Wine & Spirits on Old Halls Ferry.

 

This is the Phillips 66, a gas station not in the city of Ferguson, but in the city of St. Louis. And it was looted.

 

Brentwood Police tell me they caught a group of young men just outside True Runner carrying armloads of tennis shoes.

 

An overnight store break-in in South City likely inspired by looting in Ferguson.

 

More than 30 young people broke into the Shoe Carnival off Gravois near Grand. That’s a completely different part of the city.

 

Police say around midnight, around ten cars pulled up, went in with faces covered, and stole whatever merchandise they could.

 

Police say criminals are using everything that is happening in Ferguson as an opportunity to commit crimes.

 

[August 14

Day 5]

 

[Jay Nixon

Governor of Missouri]

 

Today, I’m announcing that the Missouri Highway Patrol, under the supervision of Captain Ron Johnson, who grew up in this area, will be directing the team that provides security in Ferguson.

 

[Ron Johnson

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain]

 

I grew up here, and this is currently my community and my home. And therefore it means a lot to me personally, that we break this cycle of violence, diffuse the tension, and build trust.

 

It is such a different feeling here. We just got briefed from Ron Johnson. He told us, totally different feel going into tonight. Officers will not be wearing gas masks. We’ve seen fewer officers than we have in the past couple of days. And the ones we have seen have not been heavily armed. They have just been wearing their uniforms as if they were patrolling.

 

I understand everybody bein’ hype, and as the kids say “turned up.” But don’t get turned up to the point where you out of control. Some people want you to do that. That takes the focus off of Mike Brown. Let’s focus on Mike.

 

Hands up! Don’t Shoot!

Hands up! Don’t Shoot!

 

I love you, man.

I love you too, dude.

This is epic. That’s how we wanted it to be. Epic.

What’s goin’ on? You want to talk about what’s happenin’ here?

Where y’all from? What news?

We’re from Vice News.

Vice?

Vice.

Aww, man, I watch Vice all the time.

Oh, cool.

Maaaan, I’m on Vice?! This is me. I love Vice. I be on YouTube at work. My boss be mad at me sometime ’cause I’m on Vice. This is real. I’m not playin’.

 

It is a peaceful demonstration going on here, although a boisterous one.

 

Alright, alright, alright!

 

Don’t shoot!

I’m not gonna shoot. We gonna be alright.

Hands up!

I’m so proud of you.

Peaceful protest. We love everybody.

 

What do you make of all of this crowd, all of these people around you, surrounding you like this in this way, supporting you?

 

I think their voice is bein’ heard. And I think that’s all that- Bottom line is that’s what they want.

 

What’s his name?! What’s his name?!

 

[August 15

Day 6]

 

[Tom Jackson

Ferguson Police Chief]

 

So, I’m here to talk about two things. What we’re makin’ available today are the dispatch records and the video footage of a robbery- a strong-arm robbery- with the use of force, that occurred at a local convenience mart.

 

According to police, it shows Michael Brown at a convenience store just a short time before the shooting. Going in, stealing a stack of Swisher Sweet cigars.

 

Ummmm, I’m sorry. The officer that was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson. D-A-R-R-E-N Wilson, W-I-L-S-O-N. And thank you, and thank you and I’ll see you again.

 

Six days to get that lie together, and it still ain’t workin’. They full of it, all of ’em over there at Ferguson.

 

To come down here and to not release any information, any incident report on the murder, but release information about, ‘Well, Mike maybe wasn’t a perfect guy,’ is appalling.

 

I think come tonight, once folks start gettin’ off of work and they start takin’ in was told to us from the press conference. I’m not sure that it’s gonna be the same thing that we saw here last night.

 

(N.W.A. was Right!)

 

I’m just waitin’. They talkin’ ’bout fuckin’ it up again tonight. So, I be out here. I got me some Jordans. You know what I’m sayin’?

 

Fuck the police. We out here. We outnumberin’ y’all. Y’all ain’t on shit, bruh. Y’all ain’t doin’ shit.

 

They teargassin’. They back on that shit again.

 

They said, ‘We’re leaving.’ That’s what they announced, ‘We’re leaving.’ As soon as everybody start clappin’ when they said they’re leavin’, they start throwin’ all these things out. And then skirted off. That was like a damn drive-by. What the hell is that about?

 

Fuck 12! Fuck 12!

 

Hands up, don’t shoot!

 

“Disperse the street immediately!”

 

Fuck y’all!

 

We ready, for yaaaa’ll! We ready!

 

It started off peaceful. It sure the fuck ain’t no more.

 

This shit is real, y’all! This shit is real!

 

Turn the fuckin’ camera off! Turn the camera off, man!

 

Whoa, whoa! Get out of here, before it’s too late, man. Just walk away. Get out of here.

 

It’s 2:30 a.m. and West Florissant Avenue is a free-for-all. Looters are coming and going through smashed windows of businesses with what seems like no concern they’ll be caught. At the time, Ferguson and County officers have been told to ‘Stand down.’

 

[August 16

Day 7]

 

To protect the people and property of Ferguson today, I signed an order declaring a State of Emergency and ordering the implementation of a curfew.

 

We will enforce that curfew in an effort to provide safety and security to the area.

 

Would you go home?

Ask y’all self, would y’all go home?

Nobody’s going home tonight.

‘Bout to get crazy.

 

So, you know there’s a curfew in effect at midnight tonight? Do you know about that?

I’ll go to jail.

You’re willin’ to go to jail and stay out here?

I’m willin’ to go to jail.

And what are other people in this crowd telling you?

They gonna go to jail too.

Alright, thanks for talking to us tonight.

We all goin’ to jail.

Alright, so we’re hearing that from this gentleman here. Thank you for talking to us.

 

Do you plan to respect that curfew?

I mean, I have no choice, ’cause I ain’t tryin’ to be locked up, no way. But yea, I’m gonna respect it, but I don’t condone it.

 

Yea, I’m goin’ to respect it, but I don’t condone it.

 

Aww man, I think it’s a bunch of baloney. Not leavin’.

 

We grown as hell. Ain’t no way we should have a curfew.

 

Man, shit. We not goin’ nowhere. You know? You see, everybody out here. It’s damn near 12, man, so it’s on them. I think they bluffin’.

 

So what are you all expecting tonight when the cops come down?

 

We expectin’ everything!

Everything! They got guns, we got guns! Fuck ’em!

 

What do you think it’s gonna to take to improve the relationship between cops and the people out here?

 

Nothing! Not a goddamn thing!

 

The protesters refused to leave, despite pleas from the men of the Black Panther Party for them to go home.

 

I’m beggin’ you! Please, do not advance any further!

 

Everybody take this how y’all want to: If we all asked to go to leave off at 12 o’clock, then it defeated the whole week of what’s been goin’ on!

 

They not movin’ us! I’m sorry, they not! I don’t give a fuck what time it is, 12:10, 12:05, 12:50.

 

No justice, no peace! None at all! Y’all move, we move! Y’all shoot, we shoot!

 

“This is the police. You are violating the state-imposed curfew.”

 

My hands up! Tryin’ to touch the sky!

 

Fuck 12! Fuck 12!

 

Water, he needs some water! I got some.

Put that shit in your eye.

Wipe that out of your eye.

 

Yo, they’re sneaking up behind!

They’re coming from behind!

 

Where the fuck did that come from?

 

They started shooting bullets. And…

Who started shooting bullets?

Some of the protesters. And somebody, one of the protesters, end up gettin’ shot.

 

[August 17-19

Days 8-10]

 

They want war! Let me show you what they did to me when I was 17. They did this to me when I was 17! Shot me in my back, blew my hip off!

 

Don’t fuckin’ tell us you’re gonna shoot us! We are not in fuckin’ Iraq. This is fuckin’ North County!

 

They break us down. They try to strip us of every right as a human.

 

It’s us against the police. That’s exactly what it is. It’s not a race thing. It’s just America against the police.

 

I don’t know if you can see, but it’s cars backed up for at least about 5 football fields. I did see a guy with a Molotov cocktail.

 

They’re barricadin’ the street with all kinds of items: cones, bricks, garbage cans. Holdin’ up their hands.

 

St Louis strong, baby!

St. Louis out here!

 

“You need to exit the roadway. Get out of the roadway. Remove the objects from the roadway.”

 

What sounded like gunshots. A bottle was just thrown.

 

Teargas fired!

 

Anyone who has been at these protests understands, that there is a dangerous dynamic in the night. It allows a small number of violent agitators to hide in the crowd and then attempt to create chaos.

 

Watch out, Chris.

You know what?

Protesters are chucking rocks at us.

And this is something else we’ve seen more of tonight, Chris, as well. Folks wearing masks.

Yea.

That’s what we’re covering!

It ain’t just about Mike Brown no more. It’s about all the people.

 

Hands up! Don’t Shoot!

 

Hundreds of protesters marched toward the site of this command post. Multiple Molotov cocktails were thrown at police.

 

Authorities have canceled the start of school. There’s a no-fly zone over the city. And the National Guard is in town to stay for now.

 

[August 19

North City St. Louis]

 

It’s the dude that just stole the soda out the store. And he like, “Fuck them.”

 

I’m on Instagram. I’m on Facebook. You know who I am. I’m just tired of this shit.

 

He tired. Damn. This crazy!

Police fixin’ to pull up.

Y’all call the police?

 

We called, yea.

 

[Warning:

The following scene may be graphic.]

 

Get your hands outta your pocket!

 

He’s got his gun out.

 

Shoot me!

Shoot me!

 

Aww, shit.

 

Shoot me!

Drop the gun!

 

Oh, shit.

 

Shoot me now, mothafucka!

Drop the gun!

Oh, shit.

Drop the gun!

Oh, shit. They got they guns out.

 

Drop it, bro!

 

Damn.

C’mon!

Oh my god. Oh, here we go again. They just killed this man.

 

Over a fuckin’ honey bun, dawg! That shit over…

Over two fuckin’ sodas, y’all.

 

They say he stole. So, he left out the store one time. They put him off. He went back in the store. So, I guess they called the police.

 

He had like a little small Liberty knife, ’bout this size right here. Smaaaaall.

 

It’s real in my city, man. St. Louis, you know what I’m sayin? Let’s get it. This shit real.

 

You gonna stay here all night, all of you guys?

Oh yeah.

You guys have guns?

Yea, I got a nice one.

What’s a nice gun?

I got an M-16.

Are you gonna use it?

If I have to.

I hope not. I know, but I hope you don’t have to.

Enough people died.

I don’t want no troubles. I want to keep it peaceful with people.

 

[Several weeks later…]

 

[October 8

South City St. Louis]

 

Escalating tensions tonight in south St. Louis. This coming a few hours after an officer-involved shooting, in which one man was killed.

 

How y’all just kill that little boy? Y’all not finished killin’ people’s babies?

 

Just a few minutes ago, we were very close by several shots of gunfire. This all happened after crowds out here got very rowdy, very fast.

 

Move bitch! Get out the way! Get out the way, bitch! Get out the way!

 

Straight pig out here! Straight bitch! Your life is in danger homie! You better go!

 

Let’s just get everybody out of here.

 

Shoot! Shoot!

Fuckin’ soft ass white boy!

 

Our streets!

Get the fuck out of here!

Get the fuck out of here!

Get the fuck out of here!

Get the fuck out of here!

 

Fuck y’all!

 

Whose streets?

Our streets!

Whose streets?

Our streets!

 

These motherfuckers, yea they crazy. They think we’re just gonna sit here and take it. It’s not happening.

 

[October 9]

 

For the second straight night in the Shaw neighborhood of south St. Louis, protesters blocked streets. Some even burned one of the symbols of our country, the American flag.

 

“Please disperse. Or you will be subject to arrest.”

 

One of the more disturbing images, according to police chief Sam Dotson, there was a knife thrown at a police officer. It hit him in the shoulder. But the officer was wearing a protective vest.

 

Rocks and bricks were thrown at officers. And even a pharmacy window was broken.

 

[October-November]

 

[Tension builds as a grand jury decides

whether or not to indict Officer Wilson…]

 

If we don’t get it?

Shut it down!

If we don’t get it?

Shut it down!

If Mike don’t get it?

Shut it down!

 

With this kind of energy, it’s really hard to tell what we’re gonna see when this decision comes out.

 

Don’t fuckin’ touch me!

Don’t fuckin’ touch me!

Step back!

You’re under arrest!

You’re under arrest!

I can’t see! Get that out of my face!

 

Three months ago, you told me, right here, that you think things are gonna change. They can’t stay the same. You still think things are gonna change?

Aww, no.

No?

No. There’s gonna be a riot, part two.

Yea?

Yea.

 

Ferguson’s Halloween power outage was the deliberate act of a vandal. Just after 8:00 p.m. Friday, much of Old Ferguson went dark. Even Ferguson Fire and Police Headquarters lost power, which some think may have been the target.

 

After it all happened and I looked out, we all in the house decided it was protesters.

 

We goin’ to shut the shit down!

We goin’ to shut the shit down!

 

I got my hands on my head!

Please don’t shoot me dead!

 

Also, what you’re looking-

Fuck CNN!

Again, as we said at the top of this broadcast…

 

No justice, no peace!

No racist police!

 

War! War! War!

 

Businesses around here have taken to boarding up their windows. And Governor Jay Nixon has even preemptively called in the National Guard. There are 1,000 National Guardsmen, 100 FBI agents, and hundreds of police officers from all over the state, in the Ferguson and St. Louis area, in case things get rough.

 

You don’t move on from somethin’ like this. With the Trayvon Martin case, they moved on from somethin’ like this. And they let somethin’ else like this happen.

 

If he get off, no tellin’ what will happen.

 

St. Louis Police report that two men spray-painted the walls of a stone gate on Flora Place with a threatening message.

 

(IF WE BURN, YOU BURN WITH US)

 

With tensions already soaring, graffiti in the Shaw neighborhood is only adding to the anxiety.

 

People visiting Compton Hill Reservoir Park were surprised to learn, someone defaced the Naked Truth statue by spray-painting “FTP”- an anti-police message- across the front of it.

It’s a disgrace.

 

[November 24]

 

He talkin’ for y’all right now. He love all y’all, y’all. He love all y’all. I mean that. I’m sittin’ here right now, out-of-body shit.

 

They been preparin’ for four or five months for war. You hear me? We just rolled past Target [department store]. They got two tanks. And they was police pumpin’ they guns at us and shit.

 

The tensions, of course, are very real. You hear that pretty much all around the St. Louis area, as we await the grand jury’s announcement this evening.

 

What I think goin’ happen? It’s goin’ down. ‘Cause I’m already knowin’. The verdict is-

What do you mean it’s going-

He’s not bein’ indicted.

What do you mean it’s going down?

What’s goin’ down is, we not standin’ for no bullshit.

 

Now, the prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, is stepping to the microphone.

 

Thanks for your patience. I’m a little late gettin’ up here.

 

We love you Miss Lesley.

We love you Miss Lesley!

Shhhh, listen, listen, y’all.

 

After their exhaustive review of the evidence, the grand jury deliberated over two days, making their final decision.

 

They wrong.

Y’all know you’re wrong!

 

They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson.

 

We gonna get justice!

We gonna get justice!

Fuck the police!

 

That’s straight bullshit, bro.

No justice, no peace!

 

That was somebody’s child. Y’all murdered her fuckin’ son!

 

Burn this mothafucka down!

Burn this bitch down!

Give me thing! Give me the thing!

Burn this bitch down!

Burn this bitch down!

 

[South Florissant Rd.]

 

Shut it down!

“You need to disperse immediately. You are in the middle of the street. You are unlawfully assembled. You will be subject to arrest. Do it now. Stop trying to turn over the police vehicle.”

 

Things heated up pretty quickly. A cop car was flipped over. Several windows were smashed. Right now, the police are giving the dispersal order.

 

That’s minor to a death, to us losin’ somebody 18 years-old. Them losin’ a police car, that’s minor, man. They just need to feel our pain. This don’t have nothin’ to do with right now. This is about years and years of this, man.

 

“You need to exit the street immediately and stop throwing-”

 

“You need to get out of the street immediately, or you will be subject to arrest.”

 

Get that shit outta my face.

Otherwise you’re gonna get your ass kicked.

 

“You need to stop throwing objects at the police and disperse immediately. Do it now.”

 

Smash that motherfucker up!

 

“Stop trying to turn over the police vehicle.”

 

For real?

 

This is what happened a few minutes ago. It’s a way of dispersing people.

 

Throw that shit back! Yeaaa!

 

Lightin’ flares, oh no.

 

They were throwin’ teargas. Fuck the police. Fuck the police. Fuck the police.

 

I’m fixin to shit on myself I’m so scared of y’all

with your guns in the middle of the street.

I been straight shittin’ myself.

 

Couple windows got smashed out. A cop car got smashed out.

Get that goddamn camera out of my face. I’m dyin’ motherfucker. Shit!

There was a lot of gas. We got gassed right up by the police.

 

Now it just seems like things are going downhill very, very quickly.

 

Holy fuck!

 

A police car’s been lit on fire. All the police are retreating. I’m pretty sure that sound is the sound of bullets, you know, ammunition, in the car goin’ off. And that’s its horn blaring.

 

So far we have word that there’s looting going on. People have started mobilizing, getting in their cars, and moving to different areas.

 

They in this mothafucka, dawg. They in this bitch, dawg. They takin’ all stuff from everywhere. The looting has definitely fuckin’ begun.

 

Walgreens is definitely on fire.

 

They got this mothafucka burnin’. The whole mothafuckin’ Walgreens.

 

I love it!

I love it, too!

 

Burn this bitch down.

Burn that mothafucka down.

 

Oh, well shit, wait. They tryin’ to go up in fuckin’ Aaron’s? Okay, well shit. Fuck rentin’-to-own, we just gonna take-to-own.

 

That’s not good.

That’s not good.

This is not good. This is, haggish ugh-

You okay?

 

[West Florissant Ave.]

 

One of our reporters said it was tear gas, but it was one of the-

Here we go.

 

And now the Ferguson Meat Market & Liquor is being hit. They gave up on the McDonald’s window. But it looks like there’s a juicier target here. There seems to be sort of a carnival atmosphere. A lot of people- there’s a man carrying a handful of products- seem to have big smiles and grins. Nothing somber or serious about this group at all.

 

Looks like we got a stash here of some Amsterdam, New Amsterdam Citron Vodka. And an orange mixer. If you could pan down and show that.

Hey man, fuck you!

Alright, we heard that. Excuse us. Those watching at home, this is live television. What about all the people that have these masks on like that guy. How many people are covering themselves? Uh oh. Alright, as you can see, we lost Steve Harrigan.

Is he alright?

 

People are throwin’ stuff at me right now.

It’s that kind of scene out here, right now-

Stephanie get to safety, please.

I feel safe, actually. Believe it or not, right now.

She’s just havin’ fun. It’s just a young girl smilin’ and kickin’ stuff at us, right now.

Okay.

 

No offense, but the black people is goin’ fuckin’ crazy. Mike Brown shit. Fuck the law. They killed my nigga, bruh. They killed him for no reason. I don’t give a fuck if he stole cigarillos. He didn’t deserve to lose his life, bruh. But shit, we out here, bruh! We out here!

 

[St. Louis County Police Radio]

 

Respond to the Dellwood City Hall and Police Station for a burglary in progress.

 

Welcome to Black Friday [Christmas Shopping Holiday]. They hit up Toys “R” Us, man. It’s fuckin’ goin’ down. I’m just goin’ ride by for y’all.

 

This is a complete American-style revolution goin’ down in our backyard.

Do you smell that?

Yup, something’s burnin’.

Where’s it at? Ohhhhh, Metro PCS! It’s burnin’.

Metro PCS is now on fire.

On fire!

See the smoke in the air! First building to go down!

First building on fire.

First building to go down!

Yea, Yeeaaeaae, yea!

 

Hey, get me a soda, mothafucka! Get me a mothafuckin’ soda!

 

The storage building straight across from Canfield is now on fire.

 

Gunfire everywhere. It’s gettin’ real hairy.

 

There’s a vehicle in the rear of the second fire, with occupants throwing Molotov cocktails on the roof of the building.

 

Fire department’s fighting another fire, north of Chambers. And the fire that they were fighting at Walgreens, I guess that’s south, the looters have returned to the Walgreens.

 

6863 Parker. There’s a male with a red hat, black clothing, holding a gas can.

 

Less than two miles from Ferguson, several cars burned in front of Dellwood City Hall.

 

Yea, I’m just sort of peepin’ out from behind the corner of the building. And within the last 15 minutes, we’ve had about 30-40 more shots. Small arms fire, in the distance.

 

9185, you’re asking for the National Guard to respond to the front? I can’t hear you.

Yea, I’ll hold until the National Guard units gets here.

 

[South City St. Louis]

 

And in nearby St. Louis, crowds blocked traffic on Interstate 44.

 

The entire group that was in the highway is now headed southbound on Grand Ave. They’re not quite down to Tower Grove Park yet, but they are all headed there, several hundred of them.

 

You can hear the burglar alarm going off. There have been people walking up and down the street earlier saying, “Why are you breaking windows?” FedEx Office supply place that has broken windows.

 

We just saw one guy grab something from there, Betsy.

Looked like an anchor.

He grabbed something and took off with it.

Looks like they grabbed a crossbow, they said.

Crossbow?

 

We do know there have been trash cans set on fire. We know there’s been looting in that area. Windows broken at the Bread Company and at a pawn shop there.

 

“Got you nigga. Ah, got you cracka.” It don’t matter whether it’s black or white. How you doin’? Hands up, don’t shoot. Please don’t hit me. I already took three of them motherfuckin’ tear gases.

 

Oh, here’s a live picture where they are looting in south St. Louis. Ripping the plywood off the front of the doors. And they’re doin’ it right in front of our cameras. I mean, it’s clear our cameras are right there.

It almost seems like they’ve noticed our cameras and thinkin’ “well, maybe this isn’t a good idea.”

That’s the AT&T store.

And this is down south.

Maybe haven’t entirely abandoned the idea there.

A lot of people. Some smiling and laughing. And, it’s a very serious situation.

 

[November 25

Last major day of conflict]

 

People are doin’ what they can to start cleanin’ up. It doesn’t even look like you’re in the same city, let alone even country. This is like somethin’ you would see in a war zone. I’d hate to say that. But it almost looks bombed-out, doesn’t it? The rest of the businesses in the area are boarding up that weren’t already boarded up. People are moving stuff out of their stores. They’re expecting it to happen again tonight. So, it’s actually right now, people are abandoning the area.

 

It’s Tuesday night in Ferguson. We’re back out in the streets. Last night, the grand jury announcement came out with a non-indictment for Darren Wilson, as many here expected.

 

Has there been justice?

Hell no.

How the fuck don’t know the answer?! The whole country is in a uproar. For the simple fact that you don’t know the answer is fucked up! Go join them! Go join them! What the fuck you interviewin’ us for?!

 

Tonight started fairly quietly. Protesters started marching away from the Ferguson Police Department. We’re now behind City Hall.

 

Break that shit!

Break that shit!

Break that shit!

 

We gonna tear it up!

 

Stay on the sidewalk.

 

Aww, fuck!

 

Hey man, put them cameras down, man!

Put them fuckin’ cameras down!

 

Y’all killin’ us! We not killin’ y’all!

So we starve the babies?!

We not killin’ y’all!

We starve the babies?!

Y’all keep killin’ us!

I’ve known you for a long time, bro. A long time! Since you were this big!

And y’all still killin’ us!

Twenty-five years right here!

And we still fuckin’ dyin’!

What are they gonna eat now?!

And we still fuckin’ dyin’!

 

And then… after this flurry of events, everything went back to normal.

We went back to normal.

But in that brief window in time, something magical had happened to us.

We had somehow managed to subvert some fundamental parts of this society.

 

[Part Two: Subversions]

 

Police, social isolation, commerce, the design of the city…

These pillars of society are so fundamental, that we struggle to even imagine a world without them.

 

Yet thousands of us together overturned our relationships with these things.

If only for a few months.

 

We owe it to our future selves to celebrate this.

 

[Police]

 

Obedience to authority gave way to outright defiance and mockery of it.

We became so alive, we forgot how to submit.

And the police became frightened, ineffectual shells of themselves.

 

All in all, though, I seen the police scared. And that’s like, that was a scary feelin’ and a positive feelin’ at the same time. I’ve always seen the police see me, and they mug me until I put my head down. But to ride past them and straight see how shook they was. I think that really did somethin’ for the people.

 

We don’t need you bitches on our street!

Say with me: “Fuck the police! Fuck the Police!”

Without that badge, you a bitch and a half!

 

[SONG: Lil Boosie Ft. Webbie – Fuck The Police]

 

(The only good cop is a dead cop)

 

Fuck em’, DAs, fuck ’em!

We don’t need you bitches on our street.

Say with me: “Fuck the police! Fuck the Police!”

 

“Fuck the police! Fuck the Police!”

 

Where do we have to go?

Keep pushin’! We goin’ push back!

 

Y’all move back 25 feet, flat out!

 

Don’t look so scared pig! Yea motherfucker, you!

You, the last one on the line!

 

There’s too many of us!

 

Fuck you! ‘Cause you motherfuckers lied! Fuck you!

 

He look like a child molester!

 

Throw your weapons down, lets go toe-to-toe!

 

Right now, a one-on-one on the side of this building.

Guarantee I’ll drop you in 5 minutes! Guarantee it!

 

Obviously, there’s no officer in there.

At least I don’t think there is.

And the car will come back, which is pretty normal.

These folks are, they seem to be pretty proud

of themselves at this stage in the game.

 

Where’s your nametag?

That ain’t no name. That mean bitch to me.

 

What’s your name, sir?

Go fuck yourself.

Your name’s “Go Fuck Yourself?” Alright, Go Fuck Yourself. Hello, Officer Go Fuck Yourself.

 

This’ll be the last time y’all kill one of our folks, man. The next time, they goin’ lose one.

 

It makes me feel like an eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth. That’s how it makes me feel.

 

We shoot back! We shoot back!

 

Pig! Go your ass home!

Go ahead pull that motherfucker.

Pop, pop, pop! Bitch!

 

I’m not scared of your ass!

I’m not scared of your badge!

I’m not scared of your sticks!

That means nothing!

 

I don’t fear you.

 

They’re better than us because they have a shiny badge.

Uh huh, ’cause standin’ behind them sticks.

And them guns.

 

All the gang members and stuff is comin’ together. That ain’t normal. They waitin’ to go against that one gang, which is the police.

 

Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit! Fuck you Roorda [police union president]! Fuck you polices! You’re a piece of shit!

 

This, I think is a supporter of the officer. They were walkin’ along, they had a sign in front of ’em, said somethin’ in support of the officer. And as they were walkin’, there was a huge crowd that formed around, bottles comin’ over the top of the crowd, the whole nine yards.

 

A straight-up fistfight. It’s on. Goddamn it, they’re throwin’ bricks now.

 

It ain’t gonna stop ’til we make it stop! They been killin’ us!

 

Whoa, Shit!

 

And keep in mind, I have family in law enforcement. Like close family. Like people that I actually look like in law enforcement. With that bein’ said, I still can’t stand the police.

 

Soft-ass rent-a-cop! You love your job? You love your job? You love this job? You a bitch! Yea, I said it. You wanna do somethin’ to me? Well do it.

 

– Hear the gunfire. See the fires burn.

– And they ain’t doin’ shit.

– But they still standin’… where the fuck they standin’.

– SWAT team

– SWAT team

– Scared.

– St. Louis SWAT team. St Louis’ finest.

– Pussies!

 

Get this on camera. Oh, you gotta be fuckin’ kidding.

 

[Social Isolation]

 

In an age of smart-phones, widespread anxiety, and nonstop media consumption…

An age in which we view our problems as isolated from the problems of those around us… We physically came together.

 

Strangers, yet we transformed the burned-out QuikTrip into a festival grounds.

A space to celebrate our subversive handiwork.

 

We shared food, made music, danced, discussed…

And not one dollar was exchanged in this space of equals.

 

You know, the dynamic was less of an angry protest against the police, more of a block party. You had people out on the street, honking the horns, walking through the street. They were waving their signs. There was some music. There were dancing. They had candles lit. There was pot. There was alcohol.

 

[DRUMMING AND SINGING: “We want justice. We want peace.”]

 

They debatin’ the “n*gger” word. There so many debates and fights out here, that anything can happen.

 

Hey, we out here. For real! Look at this. It’s not a black or a white thing. Or woman, come on, get in here. It’s not a lady or a man thing. It’s a real thing.

 

It’s horrible. And the fact that I can go down there, and this white cop telling me, “Why would you go down there? It’s dangerous.” It’s sick. It’s sick. It’s sick. Nothing is dangerous. I feel alive today!

 

Get ’em Harry! Get ’em Harry! Get ’em Harry!

 

Go ahead Harry Potter.

 

Hands up! Please don’t shoot!

Hands up! Please don’t shoot!

 

Go on get it, get it!

 

Inevitably, the state felt threatened by our occupation of QuikTrip.

We tried our best to defend it, but true public space cannot exist in their society.

 

See how they doin’ us right now? We is all in the middle of the street. They got dogs and shit. Zip ties and shit. Like we did somethin’ to them. We ain’t did shit to them.

 

And once the police seent a lot of us grouped up, they told us we had to move, we had to continue walkin’, we couldn’t stand in one spot.

 

They got a tank and tear gas. We tryin’ to get to the peaceful state. We tryin’ to get to the protest, man. Look at this shit, the police state.

 

They brought all these people out here with all this military equipment ’cause they said we couldn’t get together.

 

Police here are telling us that we need to disperse, and we need to leave.

 

“If you are on the QuikTrip lot, you are unlawfully assembled. And you will be subject to arrest. So please, leave the QuikTrip lot.

 

[DRUMMING AND SINGING: “No justice, No peace!”]

 

[Commerce]

 

In this ruthless economy, we are forced to work in order to buy the things we want and need.

 

Globally, people just like us made these goods, transported them, and stocked them on shelves.

 

And here they sit- hoarded in shops- waiting to be sold to us by big and small-time capitalists of all races.

 

And if we simply take these goods, we are called thieves.

We hardly ever ask the question: ‘Who is stealing from who?’

 

For several giddy nights, we turned this parasitic relationship on its head.

All over the city, people raided stores, shared the loot in the street, warned each other of approaching cops, and texted friends to come join in the free-for-all.

 

Commodities became mere objects.

 

It was as if we collectively realized, that all of this was really ours.

 

(Unwrap a Smile)

 

We have seen a dozen. A dozen, in a few minutes, go in and out of that store, carrying anything they can use to contain goods. Buckets, trash cans, crates, their pants. Case of beer, another case of beer.

Yea, they are seizing this opportunity, these young men-

It’s almost as if word is spreading. Come get it while you can.

It would appear that word is spreading.

 

[MUSIC]

 

Oh, they got in. They’re in. Hahaha, yeaaa! They got into the meat market. Free steaks!

 

Aww, they wildin’ bro. I love this shit. Damn, S-T-L wild, boy. Mothafucka hittin’ Prime Sole.

 

Ain’t no more phones in there?

 

– Anybody wanna drink?

– Hold on, that’s some Corona!

 

Who got lottery tickets?

Y’all, don’t scratch them off. They count those.

 

The DTLR clothing store had to close its doors today, after the looters caused $10,000 worth of damage.

 

Police say they were able to steal a brand new car, as they smashed through a gate to escape.

 

You didn’t take any rims?

I ain’t take shit! But my people did it, and I’m proud of my people for standin’ up. And I wish I would have. I wish I was a part of it though.

 

They essentially just want to go in and seize this opportunity.

He can barely carry it.

Yes.

He can barely- he’s got stuff stuffed in his pants.

Yes.

Armloads of things.

Yes.

The world is watching.

Yes, Sharon, the world is watching.

 

And you can see people are running out of the store and putting merchandise into a red vehicle. And these are women!

 

You can see here now. There’s rows, shelves of booze that have been looted. Now back in the store, you have a lot of other goods. You’ve got the meat. They got the good meat.

 

And what are they taking? Shoes, wigs, hot dogs?

 

Thirty, forty kids breaking, knocking my windows down and shooting at windows. And empty almost my store with liquor, cigarette, beer. And tried to put my store on fire at the same time. Now Sonny said he found some liquor bottles in his store that must be from my store, they brought in there and had some picnic at your store.

That’s what it looks like.

 

Nobody should have to go through that. That’s one of the sadder parts of this story. And I’m sorry what happened to you. Thank you both for bein’ with us.

 

[Design of the City]

 

The design of the city was there before we were even born.

Within it, our lives are hollow, desperate, insignificant…

 

We never feel at home.

The city is not ours.

It’s engineered for a lifeless population of producers and consumers.

 

The destruction of this landscape, brings us catharsis, camaraderie, and so much happiness.

 

It looks as if a tornado ripped through Ferguson, and then someone went through and lit the rest of it on fire.

 

Fuck. Look at this. This is just everywhere.

 

Beauty Town has burned to the ground.

 

They goin’ hear the outcry of the wilderness for Michael Brown.

 

“They’ve seen a group of black males in cars

go inside the Country Club golf course.”

 

“Subjects walking northbound on S. Dellwood Ave.

And they’re all carrying gas cans.”

 

I think that one goin’ burn. They goin’ burn that one down.

 

It’s got anger all over it. You know, showcases are folded down, glass is everywhere. It’s not just to take the stuff. It’s more to do damage.

 

Starting around 4:30 on Christmas Day, the man began to hang out on this lot. And after deciding on his car, he would use rocks to shatter windows.

 

He just started vandalizing the cars and stuff, breaking windows. And he wasn’t trying to steal anything, he was just destroying property.

 

I’m tired of being peaceful. I’m tired of being calm. You know, they’ve been goin’ to war on us for over 400 years. So, hey, I ain’t peaceful. I ain’t no protester. I’m violent.

 

Now that there is no indictment, what’s next?

You see it.

Motherfuckers gonna fuck shit up.

 

So she threw a rock, ran away gigglin’. You saw that?

 

Look the ATM machine, right here. There go the ATM machine!

They’re breakin’ into the ATM machine.

There it goes!

This guy has a sledgehammer. Sledgehammer, man.

 

Hey man, over here to the restaurant. Somebody didn’t get to the lumber company fast enough. And this one’s got a lot of damage. There’s lot of damage up and down here. And this is the main, kind of charming, business district. Not so charming tonight, it’s more like a nightmare.

 

Burn that mothafucka down!

Mask up, y’all! Mask up!

Get y’all some!

Get yo money! Get yo money! Get yo money!

Get you some!

Fuck it up! Flip it! You ain’t flipped it yet!

Get yo money!

Get yo money!

Oh, sorry man.

You good, you good, brother. You good, you good. We all here together, man.

 

But there were forces- some even within the crowd- who took offense to these subversions.

 

They quickly went about crafting self-serving narratives that threatened to forever obscure the events and meaning of Ferguson.

 

[Part Three

Complexities]

 

Here’s our take on some complexities that have been manipulated, trivialized, or written out of the story entirely.

 

[Spreading]

 

Ferguson is just one of dozens of indistinguishable St. Louis suburbs.

From day one, it served as a beacon.

People from all over the metro area flocked there.

Remarkably, that energy spread back out to municipalities near and far.

 

At the same time the violence and looting broke out in Ferguson, a St. Louis gas station was hit hard by a trio of thieves. And we wanted to know: Are the crimes connected?

 

It’s unclear whether what’s happening in Ferguson is directly connected to these smash-and-grabs.

 

Well, police say there was no connection, “This was an isolated incident.” But the residents around here, that I spoke with, say, “Yes indeed there is a connection.”

 

Wow. I didn’t expect it to spread like it did.

 

Crimes of opportunity in south St. Louis, Brentwood, and University City, just to name a few.

 

This touched Jennings and moved up onto Riverview, that could be in Bellefontaine Neighbors.

 

New surveillance video that could help find the people who broke into a Sunset Hills car dealership.

 

New information tonight about an incident this evening at the St. Louis Galleria at Richmond Heights. Police put the mall on lockdown.

 

Officials say unrest in Ferguson, caused looting to spill over to the Metro East.

 

With the spreading, not only did the police find themselves stretched thin.

But power relationships in the whole city were called into question.

It became about every business, every police force.

 

Chaos erupting at St. Louis City Hall. A pushing and shoving match, and at the center of it, is the president of the Police Officers’ Association.

 

We do have a confirmed U. City police officer shot.

 

A local police chief’s car set on fire right outside of the police building.

These charred marks remain in the parking lot of the Beverly Hills Police Station in North St. Louis County.

 

It turns out Ferguson wasn’t really a unique place of corruption and exploitation.

The entire metropolitan area reeked of it.

 

Y’all, come on y’all. Let’s take this shit to Clayton, man. If y’all gonna do this shit, take this shit to Clayton, man!

 

Here in the heart of Clayton, we can take a look at that video we have of a man who threw eggs at the County Administration Building.

 

Yea, you damn right, Lumiere [Casino]!

Burn that motherfucker down!

 

Shuttin’ shit down, they sure are.

 

We’re in the Casino.

Hands up! Don’t Shoot!

 

No Black Friday!

No Black Friday!

 

While some claim the spreading was only outsiders diluting the struggle for justice…

 

The reality was, more and more people saw themselves in the emotions and activities of others, and became involved.

 

As people began to see… both their own lives, and the geography of their daily routines, as fair game… the discontent deepened.

 

Hands up! Don’t Shoot!

It’s the best day of my life.

Why’s it the best day of your life?

Because it’s a movement. And it’s time. It’s our time.

Don’t shoot!

No justice, no peace!

Shuttin’ down 270. And it’s about time, man, seriously. Not just in St. Louis, all over the world, all over. Yes sir.

 

Hundreds of north St. Louis County high school students walking out of class today. They’re staging protests in support of Michael Brown.

 

About 250-300 students at both McCluer and McCluer North staged separate demonstrations. Then the McCluer students walked to McCluer North, where all the students came together. There was also a smaller demonstration not to far from here at Hazelwood Central High School.

 

There were a couple of tense moments, though, at McCluer North when students started banging on a police car, rocking it just a bit.

 

We have to stick together and do what we feel is right. If we gotta go out of school to do this, then this is what we gotta do.

 

If you know Florissant, the protest has definitely came to Florissant.

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

 

Fuck the police!

 

Y’all know what it is.

Hands up!

Hands up!

Hands up!

Hands up!

I’m ’bout to get you boy! You look like, “Bring that ass here!”

 

Turn up, don’t turn down!

We do this for Mike Brown!

Go ahead man.

Man, see look, I ain’t even black, but shit…

Police- you know what I’m saying man?

They stopped me one time, but I wasn’t on that shit.

I’m tired, but I ain’t worried ’bout it.

Justice for Mike Brown!

 

[Suburbia]

 

The suburbs.

Thought to foster social isolation and safety.

A landscape of cars, strip-malls, subdivisions, apartment complexes…

A place where the geography makes rebellion impossible.

 

But the human spirit cannot be suppressed simply by a certain manufactured environment.

 

Very quickly, the hallmarks of suburbia were turned on their heads.

 

I see you.

I see you.

I know where we at. You hear me?

 

This my property!

This my backyard!

We live here. This is our home.

This my shit!

This is our residence.

 

Y’all go the fuck home.

 

Police, concerned for their own safety, conceded the dark and unfamiliar subdivisions and apartment complexes.

 

– These apartments got over a thousand units in it,

of Section 8 livin’ people , right?

– You think people are hiding out and waiting?

– You think they gonna stay in the house all night?

Police ain’t gonna be able to come through there, that’s all.

Police gonna keep they scary ass on this main road.

 

They drove down in an armored truck and dispersed tear gas canisters. Don’t let this fool you. People are right around this corner, right down that street, and down that street.

 

And this is where it becomes an even more treacherous situation, ’cause you’re now moving off into darker streets. And I saw a group of about 15 people scattering throughout the neighborhood.

 

The fears of the police were validated as gunshots rang out from wooded side-streets.

 

It was a crowd out here that night. And shots were fired somewhere back here in the subdivision or in that apartment complex.

 

There’s multiple shots bein’ fired away from the scene. And as police hear the shots, the commander is tellin’ them, don’t leave the line, because you’re goin’ into the neighborhood where it’s completely dark.

 

They need to be worried ’bout

them motherfuckers that’s in the cuts.

For real. They ain’t gonna come over here talkin’.

 

Suburban life is designed around the car.

But in this moment, that car was reinvented.

Vehicles intended for the work commute became objects of play…

Injecting life into the streets and parking lots.

 

Rather than driving to the strip-malls for a Sunday shopping trip,

the car became a tool for evening looting raids.

 

It looks like a drive-thru for looting. So the cars are pulling up to the door, folks are running in, grabbing what they want, and running out, jumping in the car, and taking off.

 

I have noticed a lot of the tags have been removed from those cars. I’ve seen women, smaller children, adults. I just had a van pass in front of me with probably seven or eight young males, all with scarves on their faces. So that’s the problem we’re dealing with is these roving bands of looters here.

 

“It looks like they just stole a couple cars and drove ’em right through the door on the AutoTire.”

 

[The Fetishization of Police Power]

 

The dominant narrative of Ferguson is fixated on police power…

and all it’s spectacular imagery.

 

The gas, the tanks, the shields, and the guns.

Within this story, there are no dynamic mobs, only passive victims.

But this is completely backwards.

 

It’s in our normal lives, that we are victimized by police…

Alone, and powerless.

 

We found that when we banded together in the streets,

the authority of the police no longer mattered.

 

Gunshots, looting, joyous and unruly crowds…

For once, we were the protagonists.

For once, the police were on the defensive.

 

Only then- desperate to regain order- did they militarize.

And later, call in the Highway Patrol, and the National Guard.

 

Sir, do you know why they’re bringing this equipment in?

You all need to move back some, okay?

Do you know why they’re bringing in armored vehicles.

 

Unfortunately, this fixation on police power slowly took hold.

Over time, crowds that had stopped being victims of the police…

Turned into crowds that just complained about being victims of the police.

 

[Representatives]

 

In the months of turmoil, certain individuals- claiming to be on the side of “the people”- took it upon themselves to grab the microphone.

 

Funny thing was, the sounds coming out of their loud mouths, sounded eerily similar to those of the state and the media.

 

We do not rob our cities! We do not do that! We have to use that gas station! We need that Walmart!

 

The NAACP is urging calm tonight, everyone to pray for peace. For the young people who are involved with this protesting and demonstrating to please, calm down, go back inside their homes.

 

[Francis Slay

St. Louis City Mayor]

 

What that violence does is it, not only puts a black eye on our community, but it really sets back the cause of social justice.

 

This what black people in St. Louis want ourselves to look like? A bunch of savages that can’t conduct themselves in a manner that’s goin’ get results?

 

There is a constructive way forward for this young man’s family. And this is not it.

 

[Nelly

St. Louis Celebrity/Rapper]

 

To show dysfunction, to show evilness, to show devastation, that’s workin’ backwards.

 

It does nothing to further the point that people want to make, or to express the legitimate anger over the death of Mike Brown. What it does is it harms the community and it takes away businesses that serve the community.

 

Don’t be so angry!

 

Be calm. Be patient. And be prayerful.

 

[Jesse Jackson

Celebrity Politician/Minister]

 

And with me bein’ a pastor, I have to be concerned about both my brothers and sisters who are protesting, as well as my brothers and sisters who are serving in the police department. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do as far as healing is concerned.

 

Pastor Charles Ewing told his congregation that rioting and looting is not the way, but Jesus is the way.

 

Democratic Party politician Al Sharpton hosted a meeting calling for unity between residents and the police.

 

Sing it like you mean it.

 

We still need to get on our knees. And we need to pray. We need to thank Mike for his life. We need to thank him for the change that he is going to make, and it make us better. I love ya. I stand tall with ya. And I’ll see ya out there! Thank you.

 

Whereas most came to participate, acting and speaking from their gut…

These self-appointed representatives- from the activists to the police to the media- came to drive wedges into the crowd.

 

They defined who was a legitimate protester, who was an opportunist…

who was the community, who was the outsider…

In short, they sought to define just who this moment belonged to.

 

The looters are not the people that care about this community. They’re people from outside this community that don’t care what happens.

 

[Sam Dotson

St. Louis City Police Chief]

 

There are people here that are really here to let their emotions be heard. And then that’s what we do- we protect their rights. But there’s certainly a number of people here, and more than you can count on one hand, that are agitators.

 

[Antonio French

St. Louis City Alderman]

 

There are some guys who are opportunists. And they see this as an opportunity to just cause some trouble. The guys who were causing that trouble last night, were not protesters. They were not here all day with us.

 

The people that were involved in this last night, clearly were not looking for justice for this young man. They’re looking to incite problems.

 

Protesters are peaceful and respectful. Protesters don’t clash with police. They don’t throw Molotov cocktails.

 

Joining me now is Tef Poe, who’s using his influence in the community, to rally for peace.

The day that the riots actually broke out, me and my comrades organized a peaceful sit-in.

 

Let the agitators and the criminals stand out here alone. And we’ll see a difference. And we’ll pick ’em out, and we’ll remove ’em.

 

We taught people how to exercise their right to assemble, the right way. We weren’t out blowin’ stuff up and actin’ a fool.

 

We have people, essentially like these gentlemen, running in and giving a bad name to the actual peaceful protesters.

 

Inevitably, the logic of these representatives spread downward.

As some workers began to identify with the business community over the rioters.

 

We wanna open it back up. We wanna be here for the community. We just don’t want opportunists comin’ in from other communities. The people that went inside this store are not anyone that was part of the protest. these were opportunists.

 

A.J. Wells works here and says tax season is their biggest money maker.

Oh, I hope the cops find him before I do. This takes money out of my livelihood, you know.

 

We been supportin’ the protest all week. Supplyin’ water, soda, ice, just to keep the protesters hydrated. But, it just seems like there’s just this little crowd, that’s just comin’ from I don’t know where, that just wanna mess things up.

 

And loyal customers- allying themselves with the business community- began to publicly shame looters.

 

Take a look. A note from a neighbor saying, “QT, please come back. I’ve been a loyal customer. We are sorry for what has happened.” Kind of an apology on behalf of this entire community.

 

You know, I mean this guy is here to service the community, and the country, and doin’ anything he can. He’s scratchin’ by, tryin’ to make a livin’. People shouldn’t roll up on him and steal from him.

 

They destroyin’ jobs. You know, only black people worked in those stores. And now, they don’t have a job.

 

I work for my shit. That what black men do. We out here for a cause, not to steal people’s shit.

 

I’m embarrassed as a black woman. I really am. My people are just tearin’ the city up.

 

If they had anything to do with Mike Brown, then they would be with the family. They would be doin’ decent things. They would be prayin’ for ’em. I didn’t raise my sons that way.

 

The people that’s been looting, they’re not a part of what’s goin’ on to help the Brown family, and also to help this community.

 

Oh, my god. That does not justify Mike Brown’s death in any shape, form, or fashion. I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s just sad.

It’s an emotional issue for you.

Yea.

 

And when shaming other individuals’ actions wasn’t enough…

Some physically intervened.

These everyday people chose to protect private property, mirroring the role of the police.

 

It was people in there tryin’ to loot or whatever. And a group of guys just came out the street, and we just came to stop that. Because that’s not the message a lot of us wants to send to the world.

 

Several people came up and were standing there talking to protesters, saying, “Hey, let’s leave.” And they were actually standing there in front of those businesses. And I can tell you, if they’re willing to stand and protect those businesses, we’re going to stand there also and protect those businesses.

 

We ain’t lootin’ in there! Not in here. We ain’t lootin’ in there.

‘Cause Michael Brown don’t want this.

You don’t know that.

I don’t gotta know. But I know he don’t want everybody lootin’ and robbin’ stores, in the same place that I gotta live, and my son gotta live.

You gonna pop one in us, bro?

I not poppin’ nobody, but y’all lootin’ for no reason.

Fuck this peace shit! He needs to let us eat out this mothafucka!

This uncivilized. I see why the chief of police call y’all ignorant bunch of niggas.

 

Hey, this ain’t what it’s about man! Stealin’ other people’s shit, yo! The whole fuckin’ world lookin’ at us! And y’all niggas stealin’ shit, man!

 

– It’s about you and Mike, huh?

– It can’t be about both, bro.

– But you got the weave on your head.

And you disguising yourself.

– Ain’t no justice in that.

 

We protect our shit! This ours! We help! We help!

 

Why is we doin’ what?! Why is we doin’ what?!

 

– We live here!

– We fuckin’ sleep, eat, and live here!

– I stay here. What the fuck you mean, dawg?

 

You gotta move! It is not that serious! That ain’t yo business. Oh my god. She’s gonna put her life in danger? Over a Papa John’s?

 

But there was a certain faction, claiming to be against reform, against the system.

 

These quote-unquote “revolutionaries”- with their uniforms, formations, and talk of guns- mimic the image of the state.

 

They see themselves as a state-in-waiting.

Demanding discipline, specialized roles, and obedience to ideology.

And like the state, they were threatened by the more imaginative sections of the crowd.

 

Once the police and these black nationalists realized they each had lost legitimacy and couldn’t control the crowd…

They united to crush it.

 

Case in point…

the first night of the curfew in August.

 

My name is Malik Shabazz

My organizers, along with the New Black Panther Party

and the Nation of Islam,

we have the rapport with the demonstrators.

They respect me. They respect us.

So we can talk to ’em, and get ’em to leave.

My specific question  is:

Can the burden of ending the demonstration tonight,

can that be on us?

 

There were gentlemen in black pants and black shirts. And I said they got out there, and they did their job. And I told that to the Governor, and I’ll tell that to the nation. Those groups helped, and they are a part of this. And I appreciate it.

 

A few minutes ago, I saw Antonio French out here, along with Lewis Reed from the City of St. Louis. Both of them say they are gonna to be out here with other community organizers telling people to go home.

 

This curfew, tonight at midnight. What are your thoughts on that?

I support it. I think we are in an emergency, in a crisis situation.

 

 

If you are here in Ferguson, after 12 o’clock, we cannot ensure your safety.

 

[Jamilah Nasheed

Missouri State Senator]

You need to get out of here! Because there will be arrests at approximately 12 o’clock!

 

If you work with me tonight, our message will get out and not another message! So, don’t let nobody provoke you tonight!

 

We gotta win tonight, not them.

C’mon let’s go, go home man! Ain’t nothin else out here.

 

That was the guy that was on the right side of the stage at the Governor’s conference. He the one with the bullhorn, tryin’ to tell everybody…

That’s what I said, the older heads was out here the other night. But they wasn’t out here all night. Like, you get tired.

 

“You must disperse the area immediately. You are in violation of the state-imposed curfew.”

 

There were reports that there were arguments and conflicts within the crowd.

Uh huh. There were a couple of disagreements. Mostly people who were tryin’ to lead most of the crowd to go home and adhere to the curfew. And other people who were just saying, “If you’re scared, you go home. But I’m here. I’m staying.

 

Why did so many loud voices want us to go home, to behave?

Simply put, they felt threatened by the crowd.

Curfew night was just the clearest example.

 

But every step of the way, those with power, and those thirsting for it, did all they could to narrow the scope of our actions…

 

Herding us off the pulsating streets and into their rallies and press conferences, into their churches and community centers- desperately trying to preserve this society and their status within it.

 

But I’ve also seen the clergy come out, and the elders come out of this community. And the activists come out. I’ve seen the young people come out and talk to each other. And sometimes, the greatest policing, is policing ourselves.

 

Back up!

Push ’em back, man!

 

And many people- using the intelligence of their own eyes and experiences-

saw right through these charlatans, these reformists.

 

Claire, I’ll tell ya what. There was certainly a lot of emotion in this room. In fact, at points, anger was really spilling over. A lot of people talking at the same time. Shouting, or actually yelling, at the Governor, yelling at Captain Johnson, yelling at Congressman Lacy Clay, whoever would take the stage. In fact, at times, the pastor would take the podium, asking people to remember they were inside a house of worship, to remain calm, to stay orderly.

 

“There’s a vehicle on fire. Church van.”

 

– They comin’ down here, fuckin’ with us, man!

– And what we talked about is no fuckin’ with nobody.

 

Antonio French saying that his office, the HEAL St. Louis office, also burned tonight. That was an office that was set up to try to get people out to vote and make a difference in Ferguson.

 

How you doin’? Are you here to support us? You are?

Hey, you marchin’ today with us or you just goin’ sit in the car?

When you goin’ to stop sellin’ us out Jesse? Naw, ain’t no “Wait a minute, brother.” This is real! You not a leader. We don’t want you here, brother. Matter of fact, you not even a brother. You can keep movin’ and get the brothers out of jail.

 

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are here perpetrating a lie and a fraud. They’re getting paid to lead this march. They can shut up. They can sit down. Be quiet. We don’t want to hear what they got to say.

 

Reverend Sharpton, the term, “Snitches get stitches” was spray-painted on the QuikTrip. Since you’re a federal snitch, sir, do you fear for your life? Are you here to snitch on the rioters?

 

Al Sharpton, like he speak for all black people. He do not speak for us! Y’all got it messed up.

 

Al Sharpton.

He wouldn’t come out here with us.

Why not? ‘Cause he a trained monkey.

He ain’t shit.

They tried to get him to come out here and control us.

He wouldn’t even do that. Fuck him.

 

[Guns]

 

Night after night, a fearless and self-determined crowd returned to the streets.

They looted, set fire, and threw bottles.

And for the first time in a generation- here in the U.S.- many chose to play with the deadly power of guns.

 

Gunshots. Gunshots.

 

That’s gunfire.

 

You know what that means.

Hit ’em some more.

Run out there now.

I bet you won’t run out there now.

 

I heard a bunch of pops. And someone said, behind me he said, “If you’ve got a gun, why waste bullets by shooting into the air?”

 

A group of 15-20 people, gathering outside a liquor store. They tried to kick and smash their way in. When that didn’t work, one of them pulled out a gun and shot out the window.

 

There were troublemakers, armed with weapons, on the roof of Red’s Barbecue.

 

Saw a couple of people with handguns. They were standing in front of vehicles that they said contained more weaponry. And they said they were prepared to use it.

 

Officers are also reporting heavy automatic gunfire in the area of West Florissant and Canfield.

 

ATF is reporting that they heard over 150 gunshots overnight.

 

Both live fire, and the implicit threat that some were armed, forced the police to retreat, conceding large tracts of space to us.

 

“All units in the area, high-powered rifle firing shots, multiple shots fired. Cars evacuate the area.”

 

A police car was shot at and retreated.

 

This 28 year-old man is Terrell Doss. He’s accused of shooting a gun at a St. Louis County Police helicopter.

 

A police car was shot and another man was seen waving a gun in the intersection.

 

“I repeat. This is the police. You must disperse from the area immediately.”

 

They’re driving right into the crowd.

That’s a real gun. That’s a real gun.

 

I sat there and listened over the radio and heard the screams of those officers who were under gunfire.

 

“Shots fired at Chambers and West Dell. We’re going to get out of here”

 

Firefighters also had to evacuate amidst the gunshots…

Giving ample time for the flames to spread.

 

Firefighters had to pull out of here, because they were havin’ people shooting at them. They even left the fire hoses. That’s how quick they left.

 

You guys were dealing with gunfire out there earlier this night.

Correct. Not just a little bit of gunfire, a lot of gunfire.

 

They do have the equipment to respond to all these fires, but it’s simply not safe.

 

So essentially they’re forced to allow these fires and buildings just, to burn.

 

But, of the 7 or so people hit by bullets around the demonstrations in 2014…

Not one was a cop.

Friendly fire is the inevitable consequence of gun-play in crowd situations.

 

What happened to you?

What happened?

Everything on me is shot.

 

We’re getting a report now of a gunshot victim at McDonald’s on West Florissant.

 

I saw a car pull up and drop a gentleman off, that had been shot in the hand, and was dazed walkin’ down the street.

 

This is the wounded man, right here. Wounded man taken to the police line. Now the police line is moving forward. They have their guns up. They saw it as a threat.

 

Shit.

 

They’re shooting!

 

Shit.

 

Shit. Someone’s been hit. He got hit.

 

That mothafucka got shot.

 

Where’s the light?

Right here, right here.

This won’t turn on.

Fuck.

Is he okay?

Yea, he’ll be okay.

I’m gettin’ my car. I’m gettin’ my fuckin’ car.

 

A man got hit in the stomach twice. They just put him in a car and left. I don’t know if he’s makin’ it out.

 

In this environment of fear, the only member of the crowd who was safe, was the one pulling the trigger.

 

I need a mask.

 

We got live fire. Large successions of live fire.

 

This gun-play had further unintended consequences.

Suddenly, those armed few controlled the mood of the night.

The singular power of the gun replaced the collective power of the mob.

 

In effect, those firing guns, gave the rest of us the ultimatum:

Risk getting shot, or go home.

 

There’s gunfire.

Oh, that was definitely gunfire.

Gunfire. Time to go.

It is definitely time to get out of here. And we should not have came out here, ’cause this is a bad idea.

Yup, that’s it for me! Goin’ back home.

 

At least four or five shots. We all took cover. Then I walked across the street, and they were putting one gunshot victim in a car. That’s all I really know, ’cause everyone started leaving once that happened. And I decided it was a good idea to get out of there too.

 

[A Third Way]

 

Increasingly, it seemed in order to participate, we were left with just two choices:

 

Join the reformists…

Media-savvy, self-important, faux-confrontational…

leading well-scripted protests.

 

Or join the gunslingers…

Reckless, grim, macho…

longing for a shootout with police in the streets.

 

But what kind of a choice is this?

 

There has to be something more.

A third way.

That accepts people motivated not just by Mike Brown’s murder,

but by their daily powerlessness and frustrations.

 

Where a jumble of individuals can act alongside one another…

A welcoming environment, with space to question facets of society beyond just the police or race. Where people are allowed to be both confrontational and playful.

 

Oh, nigga just threw somethin’. Oh, shit. Hahaha!

 

That sounds dreamy.

But that spirit and space was very much alive in the early days.

 

Remember the festive potlatch at ruins of the QuikTrip,

the subversive use of cars up and down West Florissant,

the joy of mass looting,

the dancing in front of the fires…

Strangers of all races fighting side-by-side.

 

Rocks, Molotovs, and barricades kept the police at bay just as well as the guns did.

 

A few of us out here built barricades, so they couldn’t come through. That’s why they currently stopped right now. They can’t even get across the bricks we laid down.

 

As you can see down here, there’s a whole bunch of bricks that they placed in the middle of the street. Civilians took bricks from right over here by this public storage and placed them in the street to try to prevent tactical armored vehicles from getting through.

 

We saw fire barricades that were put along Canfield, which is the road where Michael Brown was killed.

 

There was multiple additional reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown. Makeshift barricades were set up to block police. Bottles and rockets were thrown at police.

 

Both the reformist and gun-slinging tendencies- mostly irrelevant in the early days- gradually stifled this third way.

 

Both their bullhorns and their guns, whether intentionally or not,

drove people off the streets and back into their normal lives.

 

But what if we had been able to identify and fend off these two encroaching camps,

and seized more time to experiment?

 

The truth is, we failed.

And in the end, all that remained were specialists, supporters, and spectators.

 

The moment we were swept up in had ended. And then…

to our astonishment, the events we had participated in, were completely re-written.

 

Our extraordinary story of large numbers of people undermining society,

had been twisted into a tired story of people gathered together to seek justice.

 

Thoroughly defanged, Ferguson has been easily integrated into this capitalist nightmare.

 

Our attempts to escape this miserable world were sabotaged by those seeking to reform power.

 

[Nice Night 4 a Revolution]

The next time we find ourselves in such a promising situation…

We would do well to remember:

 

The effort to reform power will always spoil to the dream of destroying power.

 

Bon voyage.

 

We pray. Lord God!

 

[Thanks to everyone who participated

and tried to push things further…]

 

We are weary. But we come to you today, that you may continue to fill us with your spirit.

 

We have come so that our community may be whole.

 

[Thanks to everyone who took care of

the wounded and the imprisoned…]

 

We pray that your strength would be with our residents, the families, and our community with our police officers, those who have come together in your peace, to bring peace. And we pray that you would continue…

 

[And thanks to everyone

who helped with

 

feedback,

translation,

and free and open-source software…

and years of thoughtful discussion]

 

…to bless us as we move forward. May your peace reign upon us, so that we may again rejoice in having this fellowship and this time with one another. That we will not continue…

 

[Send all hate mail and cease and desist orders to

touchthesky@riseup.net]

 

…to let the things that continue to divide, keep us apart. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

***

This leaflet was handed out during the days or weeks or months after 9/8/14. It’s taken from a pdf which I couldn’t upload, and so the spacing is a bit strange.

Another Word For White Ally Is Coward

by Anti-State STL

The fear that we would like to critique here is the fear of forming one’s own opinion, the fear of developing one’s own analysis and then acting upon it. We do find fault in this fear of the White Ally. To be a White Ally is to stop thinking for one’s self, to blindly follow a leader based on no other criteria than their identity. At least this is what is demanded of us by those who would make us into Allies.

Fear. Fear is real. There are times when fear should be listened to.
Like when shots ring out and fear tells you to duck and run. There
are other times when fear needs to be pushed through. We leave it
up to each person to decide when to push and when to run. The
fear we criticize is not that of those who stay away from violent
and chaotic scenes, not that of those who listen to their bodies
telling them they cannot handle yet another trauma. We find no
fault in those who make these choices for themselves.
The fear that we would like to critique here is the fear of forming
one’s own opinion, the fear of developing one’s own analysis and
then acting upon it. We do find fault in this fear of the White
Ally. To be a White Ally is to stop thinking for one’s self, to blind-
ly follow a leader based on no other criteria than their identity. At
least this is what is demanded of us by those who would make us
into Allies.
The concept of the White Ally is bankrupt. One cannot be an ally
to a category of people. To speak the words “I am a White Ally to
people of color” is to commit an act of double speak, to internal-
ize non-sense. There is no singular black voice that can be listened
to, no authentic community leadership which to follow. There are
only many different people with different ideas, life experiences
and perspectives. To think otherwise, to think that all black peo-
ple share a common opinion is extremely problematic, one might
even say racist. One can be an ally to individuals though there
are other words in the English language which describe this re-
lationship with more grace: friend, lover, partner and sometimes
cellmate or co-defendant.

On Leadership
There are two kinds of leadership. One which comes from orga-
nizations with acronyms for names and official titles with paid
salaries and another which is created by activity. We will refer to the first as formal leadership and the second as informal lead-
ership. The reality of the current moment demands that white
people follow the leadership of black people while in the spaces
of majority black rebellion. We are currently not in a position
to challenge this narrative though we would like to put forward
the concept of a multi-racial rebellion in which informal lead-
ership is picked up and put down again by all participants. As
ideal as that may be to us, that is not the situation in which we
continually find ourselves. Accordingly we choose to follow the
informal leadership of black people fighting back against police
terror. For better or worse, in some situations, a riot for example,
one cannot follow both the formal leadership of those associated
with organizations and the informal leadership of those fighting
in the streets. In such situations the two forms of leadership move
in opposite directions.
As people who do not identify with the role of White Ally, we
choose the side of the fighters while the White Ally consistently
chooses the side of the organizations.
Why do people associated with organizations find riotous be-
havior so objectionable? While we don’t want to put words into
their mouths, we do have a few guesses. Paid organizers require
funding. Funding requires wealthy and often liberal benefactors.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds, right? Organizers require a body
of people to be organized which is another way of saying manip-
ulated or controlled. When people refuse to be controlled, orga-
nizers don’t know how to abandon their roles and participate in
the moment. They remain stuck between an instinct to rally and
direct and the momentum of a body of people who have tempo-
rarily escaped all mediation and control.
Where some claim to be building a movement, we see only the
repression of the movement. What would it look like if instead of
organizing that repression, groups of trusted comrades took on
the task of giving the rioters a fighting chance of winning. What
supplies and materials are needed where and when in order to
actually win a confrontation with the police? How can we do this
in a way that strengthens our capacity instead of escalating to a
point at which all the gloves come off? What offensive objectives
could we set for ourselves – land, food, housing, infrastructure?
What does it even mean to get free and what would it take to get
there?

To the Activists:
Let’s make a deal. We promise not to disrupt your Non-Violent
Direct Actions and Civil Disobedience spaces. Hell, most of us
probably won’t even show up. In return, the only thing we ask is
that you stop coming into the space of a riot and attempting to
control what is by definition an uncontrollable situation.
Unlike you, we don’t want you to stop doing what you think
is right and we’re not really interested in convincing you to see
things our way at all costs. If, when it comes down to it, we just
disagree on fundamental issues, then so be it. We’ll have to find
some way of co-existing.
We could go further to criticize all the specialized roles of the
official Movement like legal observer, street medic, live streamer
or citizen journalist. It’s not that we think that no one should be
carrying medical supplies and possess the training to use them
under the most stressful of circumstances. Or that, even though
most footage taken at demonstrations serves the interest of the
police, there is never a useful reason to have a camera, a note pad
and a pen. It’s just that the more people there are standing around
watching, spectating, the less people there are actually partici-
pating. And if we’re actually going to win we’re going to need all
the active participation we can get. So by all means, bring your
camera, your maalox and your bandages, but also, bring your
gas mask, your leather gloves, and an extra t-shirt to tie around
your face. Refuse to be confined to a single role that excludes you
from participation in all others. Break down the division between
fighters and care-takers, between actors and supporters.
Even while we make this gentle criticism we also recognize that
not everyone feels comfortable doing everything. Different people
have different inclinations and comfort levels and we respect this
difference. Hopefully others can begin to do the same.
the task of giving the rioters a fighting chance of winning. What
supplies and materials are needed where and when in order to
actually win a confrontation with the police? How can we do this
in a way that strengthens our capacity instead of escalating to a
point at which all the gloves come off? What offensive objectives
could we set for ourselves – land, food, housing, infrastructure?
What does it even mean to get free and what would it take to get
there?

On Barricades
A barricade is a tool. We do not place objects in the street simply
in order to have fun. We do so in order to inhibit the flow of
traffic, to “shut shit down,” and sometimes to slow the advance
of the police and create a situation of greater safety for those who
wish to fight them. We see the process of street fighting which has
evolved over the past year as a process of learning, gaining con-
fidence and of setting precedents for future rebellions. An ideal
barricade would be large, tall and strong and potentially set on
fire only once the police have arrived. We think this would be an
effective tactic to employ in order to hold and defend space and as
a way to safely fight. Getting to the point where the construction
of such a barricade could take place would most likely entail a fair
amount of collective learning and creativity. In other words, we
all need to practice together.
This is why we participate in riots instead of staying home or sim-
ply watching from the sidewalks like good White Allies.
To those who say we’ll run away when shit gets real, that others
will bear the consequences of our actions, that we never experi-
ence the repression that we instigate:
Over the past 15 years of participation in various social move-
ments and struggles we have gone through a lot. Collectively, we have been shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed, pepper sprayed
and tazed. We have been arrested countless times racking up re-
cords that only increase the level of our bail and decrease our
employability. We have stared 10 year felony sentences in the face
and refused to break with our principles. Some of us have been
beaten within an inch of our lives by rabid police wielding flash-
lights and metal capped clubs. One of us actually did die and
thanks only to a combination of luck, stubbornness and a doctor’s
hands came back to life. We have had our houses raided. We have
been placed under 24 hour FBI surveillance and subpoenaed by
federal grand juries. Some of us have permanent nerve damage
in our wrists due to hand cuffs and pain compliance techniques.
We’ve had our fingers intentionally broken by police. We’ve been
beaten during police interrogation. We could go on, but the point
is not to congratulate ourselves for the misery that we’ve lived
though. The point is to say that shit got real for us a long time ago
and we’re still here. We didn’t run. We still come out for almost
every demo, though lately we’ve stopped making them happen
ourselves. We’re still confronting power and siding with those
who fight. After a decade and a half of beatings and court cases,
we’re still on the same tip and we’re not going anywhere.

To Those Who Say They Don’t Trust Us:
You shouldn’t, and we don’t trust you either. Which is not to
say that we’re immediately suspicious of all strangers. Trust, like
friendship, is a mutual relationship that is built over time. It is not
one-sided. It is not something that White Allies have to earn. It
is something that comrades who struggle and live together over
many years develop. Hopefully, the past year of protests and riots
has produced many new relationships of trust throughout the city
we live in and across the country. We don’t expect to be included
in all of these relationships, but just because we’re not a part of
your new crew doesn’t mean we have nothing to offer each other.

To Those Who Would Try to Unmask Us:
We wear masks, not because we are police agents nor because we
are always intent on startin somethin, but rather we cover our fac-
es to remain safe in conflict-filled situations involving the police.
Contrary to the opinion popular among a certain segment of the
protester population, white people do sometimes get targeted by
the police even when they are in majority black crowds. In our
experience, police pick out and target or scapegoat rebellious in-
dividuals with easily identifiable features: a brightly colored piece
of clothing for example. They do this in order to make a quick
and successful arrest with easily communicated orders.
This is why we wear dark clothes and masks. It’s not (just) be-
cause we think we look good dressed up like ninjas. To act by,
say, de-arresting a fellow rebel and then change one’s clothing is
one way of avoiding police repression. The more people who do
this, the safer we all are. The fewer masked people there are on
the streets the more those who fight are left exposed. Even if you
are not going to break the law, wearing a mask is a subtle way of
increasing the safety and the power of the crowd. Where there are
security cameras or police video surveillance, which is to say al-
most everywhere these days, everyone should be wearing a mask.
The more the police recognize you, the more likely you are to be
targeted for arrest or additional surveillance.

To Those Who Say We’ve Started All the Fires:
At best this is the highest form of self-delusion. At worst it is
intentional manipulation that could lead to serious legal conse-
quences. In addition to simply being wrong, claiming that the
many acts of arson committed over the past year were perpetrated
by white people erases the agency of black rebels. According to
this logic black people will only violently rebel if they are put up
to it by whites.

– A few of the many anarchists in St. Louis
P.S. We’re not all white!

 

 

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