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Monday, August 18, 2014

Live Blog: 31 Arrested, 2 Shot, Police Under Attack in Ferguson

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 8:30 PM

click to enlarge Police clear the streets after shots are fired. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • Police clear the streets after shots are fired.

Another long night begins.

After two nights under a state-mandated curfew failed to quell escalating violence in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb prepared Monday for a night without a curfew under the watchful gaze of the newest security force on the scene, the National Guard.

The atmosphere in Ferguson has already become a tense one, with protesters and journalists arrested. Clearly, police are strictly enforcing rules against gathering in certain areas, including a blanket ban on standing in demonstration on West Florissant Avenue.

As Ferguson prepares for its first night this week without a curfew, we'll be live updating this Daily RFT blog post with news from the scene and dispatches from our reporters on the ground. Check back with us throughout the night for the latest.

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson. --- 3 a.m. - OK, folks, that's all we have. Check back in the morning for our story on the Holocaust survivor arrested at a Michael Brown rally in Ferguson and more coverage of this awful, awful night. Take care of yourselves, St. Louis. --- 2:21 a.m. - Press conference is starting. Our reporters are safely back at the office.

Police arrested 31 people -- some from as far away as New York and California -- that Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, Ferguson's police security leader, called "violent agitators" using peaceful protests as cover. Two men were shot.

Johnson said police came under heavy gunfire at the Canfield Green Apartments. Police confiscated two guns from a car with its windows down parked across from the media staging area. Despite being fired on, police did not discharge weapons, Johnson said.

Johnson made an emotional, nearly tearful plea to journalists not to glamorize violence or interfere with police operations.

"We can't have this," he told reporters. "We do not want to lose another life in this community." Johnson said trouble began around 9:40 p.m., when a loud, non-aggressive group of protesters walked up to the police line. This had been happening all night as demonstrators weren't allowed to stop walking on West Ferguson Avenue, the main drag of late-night violence, but this time was different. The crowd grew large and unruly, and people in the middle and back of the crowd began throwing bottles.

Then came the gunshots. Then the rescue mission, when police sent a SWAT vehicle down West Florissant Avenue to clear the crowd and retrieve gunshot wound victims. Two fires were reported, in a business and in an empty home. And at the Canfield Green Apartments, "our officers came under heavy gunfire," Johnson said.

A step behind police and gunmen alike were journalists -- some with credentials, some without, some working for international outlets, some volunteers with an ambitious livestream -- racing for the best shot. Johnson did not apologize for detaining journalists, saying officers released them immediately once their credentials are verified.

"We do take some of you into custody," Johnson said. "In the midst of chaos, trying to move people up, we have to be safe. We have to be safe."

St. Louis County police tweeted photos of the items confiscated: --- 1:55 a.m. - Ryan Deveraux, journalist for The Intercept, was detained: Here are his last tweets, sent as others (see below) reported tear gas and rubber bullets at West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates: --- 1:23 a.m. - A harrowing account from the Belleville News Democrat at West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates: --- 1:10 a.m. - More. News of tear gas and rubber bullets is coming from people who've been tweeting from the scene for the last nine days. Police held back from gassing protesters tonight, except at Canfield Drive and West Florissant Avenue, says Antonio French. "They just tear gassed a whole neighborhood:" "People are getting rubber bullet-ed, this is not OK:" --- 12:55 a.m. - Police say we'll have to wait an hour for a press conference, which is frustrating because media aren't allowed out of central command right now. A few reports are trickling out: --- 12:34 a.m. - Amnesty International is not happy that no one is witnessing the fighting that police say is going on now at Canfield Drive and West Florissant Avenue. --- 12:20 a.m. - Blockades are making it difficult for anyone to move around out here. Press are unable to reach their cars. Police are keeping media from accessing West Florissant Avenue by Canfield Drive. Antonio French says there's a good reason why: This hero is holding it down strong: --- 12:06 a.m. - Journalists are being shepherded down to the command center, away from any action. More demonstrators are being arrested. There will be a press conference shortly at the command center.

Continue reading for more updates.

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