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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After Forcing Ferguson Protesters to March in Confined Protest Area, Tear Gas Again

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Page 2 of 2

"They just provoke people with all this," said Jacquelyn Hall, a protester who said she got hit by a rubber bullet a few days ago. "They make people angrier because it's trying to tell them they don't have control over where they live, even though this is their home."

On the Ferguson Avenue side, water bottles were hurled at police. This caused them to advance, with the riot gear cops edging forward, ready to move. An officer on a bullhorn ordered people to move back and get on the sidewalk. This infuriated some people in the crowd, who yelled back at the police -- some with insults, others with reminders about the text of the U.S. Constitution. But the crowd was beginning to look angry and the police became anxious.

Self-appointed leaders like former Black Panther Malik Shabazz, who has at times attempted to wrestle control of the protest throughout the past few days, pleaded for people to be peaceful and to calm down. Although most people were calm, a few were aggressive, wanting to move forward. At one point Alderman Antonio French violently shoved a protester back so hard the protester fell backward and appeared to be hurt, at least momentarily. Fellow protesters offered him assistance.

On the Ferguson side of the street, the scene calmed down, but police were still watching the crowd with intensity. At one point, a protester named Alfred was talking to friends when an armored truck with several SWAT officers charged up to him. Police immediately jumped off or out of the vehicle and grabbed him, pulling him to the ground. Several others had their rifles pointed at him. They searched him, found nothing, and then left. A black officer patted him on the shoulder as he left.

click to enlarge RAY DOWNS
  • Ray Downs

"They said they thought I had a gun," said Alfred. Asked if he was scared, Alfred replied, "I don't have the spirit of fear, brother."

Similar events happened at least twice more with cars attempting to leave the area.

On the other side, by Canfield Drive, things were more hectic. Gunshots were reportedly fired near the protest area, possibly from a residential area, which led to a barrage of tear gas.

People ran to get away from the tear gas, and some were deeply affected by it, coughing and throwing up. A woman with a Maalox and water solution used to quell tear-gas effects walked around offering assistance.

A man going by the name of John, said he's an army reservist who came down to protest police militarzation.

click to enlarge RAY DOWNS
  • Ray Downs

"I don't think the government should wage war on its own people," he said. "And this looks like a war."

After gassing on end of West Florissant, police were able to corral nearly all media into one area. Once they achieved that, media was told to stay put in a media tent. And soon after that, they were told to leave the area altogether for "safety reasons."

Meanwhile, 150 cops in full riot gear advanced on a group of 15 to 20 protesters, ordering them to leave.

In all, two people were reportedly shot and 31 arrests were made that night.

After police managed to clear out almost all the media and protesters, Justin Hubbard, a protester who lives in the area, came out to pick up trash in the street from the event.

click to enlarge Justin Hubbard - RAY DOWNS
  • Ray Downs
  • Justin Hubbard
"It's just my way to add a little positivity to all of this," he said. "There's a lot of negativity out there int he media about the protest, but I just wanna show there's some positive, too."

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E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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