After Friday night's chaos in Ferguson, the atmosphere here returned to uncertainty, fear and anger. A quick recap: On Thursday, police authority in Ferguson shifted from the St. Louis County Police Department to Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Johnson boosted residents' hopes that a less militarized, more communicative police force could eliminate the heavy-handed police tactics -- like the use of tear gas -- seen in previous days. Those hopes seemed to bear out Thursday night, when West Florissant Avenue played host to a spontaneous, non-violent block party.
Then Friday night rolled around, and residents watched horrified as looters again ransacked local businesses. So when locals and demonstrators returned to West Florissant on an overcast Saturday afternoon, their outlook was understandably cloudy as well.
"The looting and shit is taking away attention on what the main focus here should be, and that should be that an unarmed black male was killed, in the street with his hands up," said Eric, a 23-year-old Ferguson resident and father of one. He requested Daily RFT not print his last name.
"I think everybody else is spending more time reporting on looting and the acts of few instead of focusing on the acts of many," he said.
Eric was standing near the charred remains of the QuikTrip on West Florissant Avenue, which had been torched by looters the day after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown.
Since then, various organizations have stepped up to provide food and water to protesters and residents. When Daily RFT arrived at the QuikTrip, volunteers were barbecuing and cleaning the area of trash.
"Look how all these black young people out here," Eric said. "You got people out here straight supporting each other, you got black people out here unifying, right here and trying to make the best out of a bad situation."
Yet, Eric said he struggles to remain positive. The influx of support to Ferguson has also drawn activists and ideological groups from all over St. Louis -- not to mention the country. There are too many voices, and no one to direct them.
"All these people are coming here, and there's no leader here. You got the Nation of Islam here, you got the Black Panthers, you got the pastors and the different preachers that's out here. You got young people that's out here trying to lead."
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