Naturally, the citizenry and media are harsh and critical of the failings and rarely highlight the successes. Of course though, the Justice Department and other agencies are failing in protecting the rights of the people. Like what we have seen in Ferguson, the local police have been constantly changing the rules night-to-night making it difficult for demonstrators to plan or know what to expect. Some of these clearly illegal police actions include, telling protestors that they are “unlawfully assembled and subject to arrest.” What’s interesting is that often times the protestors are on side walks and remaining completely peaceful. The USA’s 1st Amendment clearly protects people’s right to peaceably assemble and protest. Oddly enough, the police have even stated that “anyone making statements to incite violence will be subject to arrest.” Incredibly vague language has been prevalent in the police announcements to the protestors and has led to legal watch groups and civil rights activists to file lawsuits on behalf of the arrested.
I was on the front lines late at night on the 11th in front of the Ferguson Police Department. Hundreds of protestors pushed up the drive way chanting and were initially met with a low police presence. As the night progressed and tensions rose, after a water bottle was thrown, riot police were deployed and reinforcements quickly filled their lines. There were tense moments as police kept rotating officers in and out of position, making people anxious, thinking an impending push was imminent. Officers did have gas masks, OC spray, and flex cuffs on the belts. I also saw them armed with both guns and tasers and even one protestor yelled out “he has a gun!” pointing to one of the officers, as if to highlight their heavily armed response.
You can watch my videos in front of the Ferguson Police Department here:
On October 14th, Ferguson October activists staged dozens of protests, sit-ins, marches, rallies, and snap protests all throughout the St. Louis area. City Hall, three Wal-Mart’s, Ferguson Police Department (thrice), a casino, a mall, a fundraiser, a stadium, and a university were all subject to protestors movements and actions. Monday was marked “Moral Monday” where they planned a full day of civil disobedience and intentionally disrupted businesses, roadways, and government buildings. Many even sought to be arrested to make a point by pushing towards police with their hands behind their backs. Most notably, Dr. Cornell West was among the arrested and reports are that at least 75 people in total by the end of the night. On a lighter note, demonstrators showed up again at about 1PM local time and asked police to donate $1 to fix a damaged vehicle in a joking manner, throwing dollar bills in a collection cup across police tape lines.
What makes activists and legal experts use the term “state sponsored violence” is the sheer amount of silence from the government. As I said before, there just doesn’t seem to be much being done about the situation nationwide. While there are many pending investigations in regards to police involved shootings, often times these go un-prosecuted and ignored. People are becoming tired of hearing the same official statements by police which generally include, “I thought he had a gun,” “I felt like my life was threatened,” “He rushed at me.” In the USA, apparently the police do in fact have a license to kill anyone they feel is a threat or anyone they want to shoot that day.