Day 3 – August 16
This is where the story of what I saw happening starts getting more interesting. I have been to protests before but this was the first time I had been in a riot.
This night had started off like the other two before it. There were marches and peaceful crowds, but as the sun was setting the everyone became more aggressive and angry. Many people were not only angry about the aggressive responses to the protests over the past week, but that the police were going to enforce a midnight curfew on everyone.
We spent a lot of time under the cover of the gas pumps at the burned down Quik Trip or with the other press under the entrances of the strip mall stores. Since we had only been there for a few days some of the press were telling us to guard our equipment and be ready for it to be damaged or for people trying to assault us when the police or protestors move down the street.
This and pieces of plastic rubber banded around my lens were my sad attempt at doing some water proofing of my equipment.
Around 11:45 it stated raining hard and many of the protesters decided to follow the new midnight curfew that the police were going to enforce. As time was running out the New Black Panther Party and a group called the Peacekeepers tried reasoning with the crowd to leave and come back later. Some people even brought their cars into the street to stop protesters.
The police stayed at the intersection of Ferguson and W. Florissant until around 12:30 AM. Then they announced on the speakers from their trucks that protesters were unlawfully assembled and told them to leave. The group of protester only had about 80 people in it at this time, but they were showing that they were not going to leave. Many saying that it is their First Amendment right to protest whenever they wanted to.
The police moved in and started shoot flares, CS smoke, and using LRAD sound cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowd. There were some in the crowd that moved towards the police and even threw back smoke canisters that landed near them.
A little after 1 AM much of the crowd of protesters were still on W. Florissant. I was standing on the sidewalk about 30 feet away from the intersection of Canfield and W. Florissant when 5 to 6 gunshots rang out. Another camera man and I took cover across the street behind a SUV. I ran over to the scene where a protester had been shot by some one on accident by a gunman who was trying to fire at a police car driving near the crowd. The picture below is from a group of people trying to get the gunshot victim into a car and to a hospital.
In the confusion our group was separated and my friend josh and I had to drive through the side streets of Ferguson and find Dane. Using maps apps on our phones got us out of this situation, but the confusion and panic was minor compared to what was going to happen to us in the next few days in Ferguson, MO.