Six Days in Ferguson: Voices From the Protests
By Lois Beckett, ProPublica
On Saturday afternoon, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown. The killing sparked immediate protests in Ferguson which was followed by a heavily militarized police response that drew national condemnation.
Here is a day-by-day chronology of what happened in Ferguson, drawn from the best reporting by journalists and witnesses on the ground.
Saturday, August 9
“I know they killed my son. This was wrong and it was cold-hearted… [He] doesn’t kill, steal or rob. He doesn’t do any of that.”
“Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”
“Police have brought out the large gear in #Ferguson.”
“Don’t shoot me!”
Sunday, August 10
“We want this to come to a conclusion quickly.”
“How can we protect our children?”
“Ferguson killed my son. Ferguson flat-out murdered my son in the street.”
“It’s bad… I don’t blame the police, but they can’t keep up.”
—Jimmy Muhammad, 32, told the Post-Dispatch that he and others had just fought off a gang of young men with guns who tried to break into his uncle’s store, which was one of several stores targeted that night.
Monday, August 11
“Michael Brown didn’t get due process. The still unnamed police officer who shot the 18-year-old black teenager dead in Ferguson will get plenty of it.”
“After that was done and people were leaving, I remember seeing him off to the side. He kind of just came up to me and said, ‘We made it.'”
“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community. You have kids getting killed for nothing.”
“Look out here right now. The lack of black police officers either on the street or at the administrative level… This whole area, this city is a racial powder keg.”
“Fuck the police.”
“Insurance is high, gas is high, but that’s not why I get mad. At the end of the day, when I’m driving home, they ask me to pull over and get out of the car. No ‘license and registration, please.‘ Get out of the car. Lay on the ground. Put your hands on your head.”
“These are the next kids to get shot, right here.”
“These m———— came out of the cut and sprayed me in the face like this is a f—– video game or something.”
—A 23 year old resident of the neighborhood near West Florissant Street, a center of protests. The young man said police had sprayed tear gas in his face and hit him with rubber bullets. “I was just trying to get to my sister’s house,” he told the Washington Post.
“You have a son, I have a daughter. Let’s go home now.” “No, I’m tired of putting up with this.”
Tuesday, August 12
“He’d accomplished it. In the last two months, man, Mike was there every doggone day and he was giving it his full effort.”
“‘Get the f—k on the sidewalk.’ His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk.”
“This is how the boy died! With his hands up in the air!”
“See this dent? I got smacked in the head with a flashlight because I didn’t say, ‘Yes, sir.’ I was 14 years old.”
“We’ve sold a variety of handguns, shotguns and AR-15s. All of the sales are having to do with home defense.”
—Steve King, owner of Metro Shooting, a gun store near Ferguson, told the St. Louis Business Journal that gun sales had spiked 50 percent in response to recent events. Both black and white customers had purchased firearms, he said.
“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”
Wednesday, August 13
—Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson describes the condition of the officer who shot Brown. Jackson said the officer was injured in his confrontation with Brown. The “side of his face was swollen” and he went to the hospital for treatment, he said.
“The clock is ticking and the time is late. This situation has been thirty years in the making.”
“This story’s going to get out there. It’s going to be on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow.” “Yeah, well, you’re going to be in my jail cell tonight.”
Thursday, August 14
“We have a right to protest 24 hours a day. Our constitutional rights don’t expire at 9 p.m.”
—St. Louis alderman Antonio French, on his release from jail on Thursday morning. French, who has been live-tweeting the protests, was arrested at Wednesday night for “unlawful assembly.” He said a police officer dragged him out of his car.
“We are appalled.”
“We must demilitarize the police.”
“The police response needs to be demilitarized.”
“There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights… we’re all part of one American family.”
“I don’t want to see tanks on American streets, period.”
“This is a place where people work, go to school, raise their families, and go to church… But lately it’s looked a little bit more like a war zone and that’s unacceptable.”
“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd.”
—Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson, who was sent in by Gov. Nixon to lead a changed police approach to the protests, talks to reporters in Ferguson. Johnson, who is African-American, is a Ferguson native.
“Tell her Capt. Johnson is sorry and he apologizes.”
“Yes, that is Thomas the Train.”
“Weird party/protest vibe hard to explain, it’s a Partest.”
“I’m excited… relieved.”
“It is a celebration. Now, we can focus on Mike.”
Friday, August 15
“The officer who was involved in the shooting of Michael Brown was Darren Wilson.”
—After nearly a week of protests, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson names the officer who shot Michael Brown. Wilson is a six year veteran of the force with no disciplinary record. He was responding to a “strong-arm” robbery at a convenience store. Wilson encountered Brown at 12:01. By 12:04, when another officer arrived, Brown had been fatally shot.
“Where’s the footage?”
—Laura Keys, 50, of St. Louis, responding to the new police account of Brown’s death. “I can’t believe this is the tactic they are using, bringing up a robbery to make the victim look like he was the person who created this whole mess,” she said.
“Stills from the convenience store.”
“After viewing Brown and reviewing this video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident.”