It was bad enough that a police officer shot and killed a black teenager in Ferguson, but the way the city has handled itself since leaves a lot to be desired.
Ferguson’s been compared to a war zone and a police state—and headlines illustrate that people all over the planet are trying to make sense of what’s happening in the United States. Missouri’s governor, who took five days to finally arrive to the area, is promising a different “tone” from police this evening; Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, says that he’s concerned at the militarization he’s seen.
Here are nine moments, starting from Saturday, that make you wonder how Ferguson got so much, so wrong:
Killing Michael Brown
Because the police, Justice Department and FBI haven’t divulged details of their investigations into Brown’s shooting, all we have to go by are eyewitness accounts. And those accounts indicate that Brown was essentially executed:
Militarizing the streets from day one
M-16s, armored trucks, tanks, tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper shots didn’t just start today. As local residents have documented, police displayed a massive show of force just hours after Brown’s shooting:
Refusing to name Brown’s killer
It’s been five days since Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, and the Ferguson police department is still refusing to make the officer’s name public:
Rev. Jamal Bryant questioning why Ferguson police won’t release name of officer who shot Mike Brown. Urges peace. pic.twitter.com/UCN0hYCgBY— Trymaine Lee (@trymainelee) August 12, 2014
Declining to interview key witnesses
Dorian Johnson was walking down the street with Brown as a police car approached them on Saturday. Moments later, Brown was killed. But Johnson says local police have declined to interview him about what he witnessed:
Declaring a no fly zone
Although it was soon lifted, the Federal Aviation Administration initially agreed to restrict flights over Ferguson. The agency claimed it was for the safety of officers involved—but it also restricted airspace for media helicopters:
Attacking journalists with tear gas
SWAT officers aimed tear gas at Al Jazeera reporters—who had to run away and leave behind their own equipment:
In an attack on the First Amendment, police entered a McDonald’s and arrested two journalists:
Arresting an alderman
Antonio French has been the most visible and consistent community journalist on the ground in Ferguson. Is that why he spent a night in jail?
After a night in the #Ferguson jail, I’m free. My staffers who were also arrested last night are also free. Thank you for all the support.— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 14, 2014
À la 1964, Ferguson police chief claims ‘outside agitators’
It’s reminiscent of the Civil Rights Era 50 years ago. In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox Wednesday, Ferguson’s police chief, Tom Jackson, claimed “outside agitators are causing the violence” (you can forward to 05:28 to hear it):