Calm After the Storm State Troopers Ensure Right to Protest in Ferguson
What a difference a day makes.
Ferguson, Mo. residents and their supporters peacefully protested late into the night Thursday after Missouri Highway Patrol relieved local police of their duties. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the move early Thursday after four days of violent clashes between local police and demonstrators protesting the shooting death of unarmed teen, Michael Brown, by police.
FERGUSON POLICE RELEASE NAME OF OFFICER WHO SHOT MICHAEL BROWN
National attention on the town peaked Wednesday night as live images of police using military-grade weaponry on residents fooded timelines on social media and fled television screens. Headlines decried Ferguson as a war zone as camouflage-clad police poured into the small town of 22,000 carrying assault rifes, shooting stun grenades and riding Mine-Resistant Armored Protected (MRAP) tanks.
Media staged miles away from the protest lines were also barraged with tear gas and arrested, which was a direct affront to freedom of the press. The clashes prompted President Barack Obama to address the rising tensions in an unscheduled press conference calling for peace from Martha’s Vineyard where he is vacationing with his family.
State troopers employed a wholly different tactic than the local police. Troopers dressed in traditional police uniforms appeared without rifles and marched with the protestors rather than standing in attack formation. Governor Nixon said the state troopers were to employ a different approach: “that we allow peaceful and appropriate protests, that we use force only when necessary, that we step back a little bit and let some of the energy be felt in this region appropriately.”
Attendees of the demonstrations commented that the ability to protest freely without fear of tear gas and rubber bullets felt like a victory. It is uncertain how long the protests, often organic and spontaneous in nature, will remain.
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So much remains unknown, aside from eyewitness’ recounts of the events that led up to the shooting. But for Brown’s family and supporters, there remains hope that Ferguson and the nation will stay vigilant until the teen’s killer is brought to justice.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Stacy M. Allen, Attorney at Law (@SMAllen_Esq)