Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

National Guard a Welcome Sight for Long-Time Downtown Ferguson Resident

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 9:02 AM

click to enlarge Greg Hilderbrand and Laura Charles guard their apartment Monday night in Ferguson. - MITCH RYALS
  • Mitch Ryals
  • Greg Hilderbrand and Laura Charles guard their apartment Monday night in Ferguson.

Greg Hilderbrand welcomed the National Guard soldiers milling around his back door Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, they were a day late.

During a chaotic Monday night, the National Guard was no where to be found as angry rioters looted and burned dozens of businesses in Ferguson following a grand jury's decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson. On Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon ordered 2,200 National Guard troops to protect the city.

Hilderbrand's loft apartment above the Chinese Gourmet restaurant on South Florissant Road narrowly escaped being a target of Monday's vandalism.

All he could do that night was stand and watch as vandals broke windows and set fire to trash cans around his home. He knew if he said anything, they would turn on him, and he had a daughter sleeping upstairs to think about. A frequent protester himself, the 35-year-old Hilderbrand is incensed by the violence and destruction.

"My problem is they link the violence with the protesters, and it's a totally separate group of people," he told Daily RFT Monday night as he stood guard near his front door. "I've seen people down there every night dedicated and loyal through rain, sleet and shine. They're down there peacefully protesting. This shit happens, and it's a whole different group of dudes just coming through destroying shit."

The posse continued to move up the street, bringing destruction with them -- smashing a window here, tearing down a sign there. As the group bashed in the windows of the True Value Hardware, one of them shouted, "Got any lighter fluid?" When the answer turned out to be no, the group moved on.

click to enlarge Smashed window at True Value Hardware in downtown Ferguson. - MITCH RYALS
  • Mitch Ryals
  • Smashed window at True Value Hardware in downtown Ferguson.

Eventually the marauders stopped across the street and in front of Hilderbrand's home. One girl told him and his wife, Laura Charles, to move out of the way so they wouldn't be hit with rocks.

"We live here," Charles pleaded. "My daughter is scared out of her mind upstairs. Please don't do this."

The group shouted back, and one of them in a white clown mask crossed the street to talk with the couple.

"Who y'all?" he asked.

"We live in this building," Hilderbrand replied. Charles again asked the young man if they would stop.

"Fuck no! It's the new Ferguson, bro," said one male in the mask, shrugging his shoulders. "No justice no peace. Let me tell you something: Anytime you can just shoot a mothafucka, then it's like that."

The group eventually disappeared around a corner, but not before busting the windows of BKM Fitness Bootcamp.

"That's another new black-owned business that recently opened," Hilderbrand said, the other being Natalie's Cakes and More, which also had broken windows Monday. "They fill that parking lot regularly."

Hilderbrand continued to guard his front door throughout the night Monday. As twilight settled over South Florissant Road on Tuesday evening, Hilderbrand, had just finished moving the last of his stuff out of the apartment.

click to enlarge No damage to the boarded-up Chinese Gourmet restaurant or surrounding businesses Tuesday night. - MITCH RYALS
  • Mitch Ryals
  • No damage to the boarded-up Chinese Gourmet restaurant or surrounding businesses Tuesday night.

"I took anything dangerous out of the apartment," he said. "Any guns, knives, swords, crossbows I might have."

He moved it all to a family member's house elsewhere in Ferguson.

"I'm going to take it day by day," he said. "It could be we're back tomorrow. I doubt it, but I'm going to come check on it. If things look sound and the National Guard sticks around, I might be back tomorrow."

Follow Mitch Ryals on Twitter at @mitchryals. E-mail the author at

Tags: ,

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation