Friday, August 15, 2014

Ferguson, Police Militarization, and the Culture of Harassment



  On August 13, 2014, Ferguson Police Department (FPD) and St. Charles County Sheriff's Department (SCCSD) dressed in riot gear fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Ferguson residents protesting the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. An officer from the Ferguson Police Department allegedly shot Brown to death on August 9.

But by the night of August 14, things looked very different in this small Missouri suburb after the governor took security duties out of the hands of FPD and SCCSD and handed it over to the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP).

"We are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we’re in this together," said Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of MSHP at a press conference. Johnson walked with protesters and posed for pictures with them later in the day.

While the atmosphere was free of a militarized police presence, and the mood of protesters was borderline celebratory, the resentment towards the Ferguson Police Department was palpbable.

Protesters told Reason TV that Brown's death was in line with a pattern of harrasment from police in the St. Louis area, ranging from excessive tickets and fines to overly aggressive officers. Many also said that the show of quasi-military force in response to the protest may have damaged the relationship between the people and the police beyond repair.

"We are not at war here. This looked like the demilitarized zone," says protester Earling McAllister Thomas.

Watch the video above. Appoximately 3 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller and Paul Detrick.

Go to http://www.reason.com/reasontv for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for more content like this.

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