Ferguson Files: Brownout Friday and Hijinks of Hangers on

First, I’d like to let everyone know that the woman who “died” and was resuscitated only to be gassed, on Monday is out of the hospital and, since she knew I and my crew were back out tonight, she came down to say thank you.

There were many Brownout Black Friday actions across the US, UK and even in South Africa today!  The “interference” is estimated to have cost the corporations (we hit malls and WalMarts) over 2.4 BILLION today alone.  And this goes through Cyber Monday.  Please remember, even a little “click” is another brick in the wall that is racism and classism and that is what this movement is about.

Tonight’s Report: I showed up with Ebonie, my stalwart artist and corpsman and Brien, the intrepid photo journalist, who’s been with me for nearly 4 years, about 7pm.  Mama Cat came with leftover Turkey dinner and handed me off a bunch of onions to turn into soup for Monday as the weather is supposed to be nasty again by then.  Actions were still taking place across the city until nearly 8pm and then folks started to trickle back into the parking lots in front of the PD.  It’s Day 111 and we’re still here and expanding the movement.

All was fairly calm until about 8:45pm local, when more strangers began to come into the areas.  We stayed, doing our stuff, no problem.  Then, these new folks wanted to march in the street.  After making sure, as best I could to inform them of the current standing orders, they went off to the south end of Florrisant.  The NLG National Hub had sent out new and more Legal Observers so they went down the street with them so the aid station would still be staffed and have an LO there.  It became very tense suddenly and the police AND the National Guard streamed out from behind their barricades and into the street after the marchers.

At the corner of Suburban and Florrisant, the National Guard threw out a line across the street, fronted by St. Louis County Cops.  The usual orders were announced: “You are in violation of the St. Louis County law by being in the streets.  Move onto the sidewalks or you’ll be arrested.”  I could see the LO’s trying to ask marchers to get up onto the sidewalks, but a lot of the newer folks refused.  Then came the order I never thought I’d hear in an American city: “You are now violating Federal Law.  Clear the streets or risk bodily harm or even death.”  Yes, that is verbatim.  I was told later that someone in the crowd touched or somehow “interfered” with a National Guardsman.  Not good.  I turned to Ebonie as she’s been out of the service for less time than I have and she shook her head too.  My information was that if a Federal order was ever given, the safety on the M-1’s could be “off” or ordered to be “off” at a moments notice.  So very Not good.

Luckily, the people that have been out here for 111 days have learned that when I get my “mom” voice on, they’d better listen.  I worked my way through the returning crowd informing all of what that “federal order” meant.  Was it legitimate?  That is for a court to decide.  I just didn’t want anyone killed in the street.  We, the long time protestors and LO’s backed up and WAY away from the group that had, despite warnings, decided to confront the police in the street.  The new folks were all masked up and “ready to party” and I was trying to convince them that our cops, they don’t play nice at all!  They didn’t want to listen, so I retreated back up the lot and set up the aid station again.

There were clashes, though I was not near enough to them to report other than there were arrests on Florrisant and some people were maced/pepper sprayed.  People flowed up the street trying to get out of the area, only to be confronted by a line of police up Tiffin who chased them back down after arresting another few people and forming another shield wall so we could not see the arrests.  I and the other LO that responded to a scream from the top of the road then had to yell at people NOT to RUN towards the police.  Since the news trucks had gotten what they came for, not the peaceful protestors withdrawing from the violence, but the violent confrontation with police by people who do not live anywhere near here and I’m sure had actions they could have done in their own cities.  I’m not saying don’t come, but make sure you come to protest and are willing to follow the real local leaders of this movement.  Which, by the way, is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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