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“Step out of line, the Man come and take you away”

Read this account of a WaPo reporter, Wesley Lowery, who was arrested in Ferguson while he was charging his cell phone in a local McDonalds.

 For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.

That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.

As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.

Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.

Read the whole thing.  It’s very upsetting.

Police presence in Denver for the Democratic convention in 2008 was huge and very intimidating.  I saw a girl step off a curb and get slammed to the ground by a couple of cops in what looked like paramilitary gear.  As far as I could see, there wasn’t anything threatening about the girl’s actions.  But Denver was dwarfed by the police presence in Manhattan during Occupy Wall Street.  I went to Zucotti Park on several occasions to cover the protests for this blog and used a local Starbucks to charge my phone.  I’ll probably never do anything like that again without a press pass (how do you get them?) but this story makes me realize that even the press is not protected anymore.

Enough is enough.  Americans are not the enemy.

One more thought: Battery problems plagued me when I was in Manhattan for a variety of reasons, not least of which there are a lot of tall buildings around blocking signal, there were a lot of signals in the air dogfighting and ATT (need I say more).  I’m guessing that more savvy people keep a spare charging pack in their pockets.  That’s probably a good idea.  Another good idea is to buy something when you go to Starbucks or MickyD’s to inhale some WiFi or amperage.  I used to get at least a hot chocolate and drink it slowly to show I was legit.

Update:  According to Bloomberg News, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ordering St. Louis County police out of Ferguson.  He’s going to be making some kind of public statement soon.

Sounds like the jig is up and too many Americans are getting a good look at the militarization of the police and don’t like what they see.  Just a guess.

Here’s another interesting tidbit.  Representative William Lacey Clay “said that he has been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “take over the entire situation because we will not get justice forMichael Brown and his family and friends if the St. Louis County police and prosecutor have a say.””

Update 2: Oh, wow.  I think Obama has given the game away.  He is sooooo out of touch with what happened in Ferguson it’s not even funny.  Trying to find summary of press conference but twitter consensus is that Obama cautioned Ferguson residents against looting and vandalism.


Just forget about the troop carriers and guys with rocket launchers.


15 Responses

  1. Who is in charge in Ferguson? Is there a mayor? I haven’t read of any curfew announcements yet the police walk around acting like they’re enforcing some official decision. Do they just make it up? Is Ferguson actually a police town?

    • I don’t know but I saw that they had arrested a ward alderman last night. He looked pissed when he was released this morning. It looks to me like the Patriot act gave police departments permission to play act like they were watching an episode of Combat (that will age anyone who recognizes the name).
      This is not the Ammis and the Gerris. This is the Ammis and the Ammis. It’s not right to do this to fellow citizens with legitimate issues.

      • Ah, Vic Morrow. I say the real beginning of this police as soldier crap was when the Philly cops bombed (literally) Move back in the 70’s. Public rage is looking for a target since it’s impossible to punish the true criminals in our society (banksters and bean counters) and police misconduct gives the disaffected a convenient target.

        • I remember that incident. Philly police burned down whole blocks of row houses. Real smart.

  2. It looks like a smaller version of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. That ended up a mess that took years to sort out. Pre-911 but the Patriot Act may have given broader powers to local law enforcement to respond any riot or protest with military-style force.

    • Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about that. You’re right. The build up has been going on for awhile.

      • I think it is possible that “lessons learned” from the riot following the Rodney King (1st) verdict 1992 could be part of the explanation. In that case, the riot was met with very little police response in the beginning and the results of the riot: 50+ deaths, over 1000 hospitalizations, several burned businesses and other vandalism.

        I am curious if protesting was ever a “safe” thing to do because of looters, riots and police response. You’d think we would be dealing with stuff better by now.

  3. I don’t agree with Lucy Steigerwald on everything, but she has written many good columns on the militarization of police forces. This archive lists her columns to date on Antiwar.com.


  4. Is there a way for “Anonymous” and all kinds of little free-lance anonymii to hack and crack and shut down all police and government computers ( and then bussiness computers if that isn’t enough) throughout this town and keep them shut down until justice is done?
    In other words, shut the goddamn town all the way down till it does justice on the victims’ terms and Anonymous, among others, are satisfied?

    One hates to think that black people and journalist people will come to feel that the only recourse they have is well trained and secretive death squads of their own. That sort of illegaiity would mark another stumble downward for society.

    • ( Oh, and . . . dear NSA,

      My last paragraph makes very clear that I would consider such an outcome . . . . black and journalist death squads . . . to be a BAD thing.)

      • Hey, thanks for that disclaimer. I try to run a safe and legal joint. We can leave our hacking shutdowns and little lethal robots disguised as June bugs in the realm of fantasy.

  5. A good toon from a few years back on Huxley vs. Orwell.


    I think in the USA, the Orwellian tactics are held in reserve, to be used only against the minority of peasants on whom–for whatever reasons–the Huxleyan tactics don’t work.

  6. It’s common knowledge that Obama admires Reagan; who knew he had a mancrush on George Wallace?

  7. They want to turn here into Iraq and Afghanistan …in fact they want the whole world to be like Iraq and Afghanistan

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