Michael Brown Shooting

Riots Erupt After Vigil for Unarmed Teenager Killed by Cops in Ferguson, Mo., Mayor Cancels Rally Today


SWAT tank in front of Walgreeens in Ferguson

It was a long night in Ferguson, Missouri, after a candle light vigil for Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old shot by cops as he attempted to flee, was followed by a riot that spread to next door Dellwood. Early this morning, Ferguson police, who were joined by cops, SWAT teams, and riot police from the region, used tear gas to disperse the crowd. According to a St. Louis alderman who joined last night's protest and livetweeted it, Ferguson's mayor threatened anyone showing up at a rally this morning with arrest, effectively cancelling it.

The fatal police shooting of Michael Brown on Saturday afternoon quickly became national news. It's not always so, as those who follow the endless stream of police brutality stories from around the country know. Residents of Ferguson began protesting immediately after the shooting, gathering at the scene of the crime and at one point chanting "kill the police."

Yesterday the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, said he would be making his way to Ferguson, as a civil rights leader and not a TV host. Sharpton, despite his prominence in a number of instances of police brutality, doesn't seem to have much of a track record of success. He was heavily involved in New York City community politics throughout the 1990s. He ran for mayor in 1997 against Rudolph Giuliani and in 2001 to replace him. He made no endorsement in last year's election, perceived as a snub of Bill Thompson, a black candidate, and a wink to Bill De Blasio. Newsday described Shartpon's relationship with De Blasio as Sharpton's "closest access to the seat of power since he came of age as an activist and antagonist" in 1980s New York City. Today, Bill Bratton, formerly police commissioner under Rudolph Giuliani, is back in that position, while De Blasio has defended the actions of cops even when they led to death, insisting the "law's the law" (NYC is still a sanctuary city, though) and standing by Bratton when the police commissioner suggesting correcting your behavior for police was what democracy was about. Sharpton's influence is nowhere to be found.

On the other hand, as pointed out by Thaddeus Russell on Twitter yesterday, anti-police riots have led to real police reforms before. In Cincinnati, for example, as a 2011 USA Today article explains:

When Timothy Thomas was shot by a Cincinnati police officer in April 2001, sparking riots in the city's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, officers only knew from a dispatcher that Thomas had more than a dozen warrants.

Today, they would know that the warrants were for minor infractions, things such as failure to wear a seat belt.

Also today, they could call for help from an officer specially trained in handling people with mental health problems. They carry Tasers to use as an alternative option to their guns. And they're reminded of a new police department culture that stresses customer service as much as it does catching bad guys.

In the rioting that followed Thomas' death, fires were set around Over-the-Rhine, a police officer was shot but unhurt when the bullet hit his belt buckle, and a citywide curfew was imposed — the first in more than 30 years.

The changes since Thomas' death and the ensuing riots are many. The results have been dramatic.

In the six years before the riots, 15 men — all African-American — died in confrontations with police. In the last 10 years? Eight, six of them black.

 Twitter followed the riot throughout the night. #MikeBrown was a trending topic last night, and so was #IfTheyGunnedMeDown (What Picture Would the Media Use?)

Ferguson police insist St. Louis county law enforcement will investigate the evidence, although activists are urging the feds open their own investigation.

NEXT: If Decency Won't Stop Cops From Shooting Dogs, Maybe Lawsuits Will, Suggests Justice Department

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  1. I have a difficult time following the Sharpton paragraph.

    1. “Yesterday the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, said he would be making his way to Ferguson”

      you could just stop after that…. FAIL INBOUND!

      1. Yeah, in light of that knowledge, I’m sure it will come to light soon that the kid killed by police was fleeing the scene of a double rape homicide and was brandishing a fully loaded, belt-fed Kalashnikov

        1. I read that the kid wrestled for a gun in the cruiser, so yes. In fact these Reason “police brutality” stories have a pretty poor record in my view. Sometimes they really are about clear abuses, but much of the time they involve some fool or lowlife doing one or more incredibly stupid things (e.g. fighting with a cop) before the cop makes an error of judgment (“brutality”). I have total sympathy for victims of wrong-house raids etc., but not so much when it’s some bonehead with a record who decides to get into a fistfight.

          1. That is the line the police are giving. Which sucks because I have this dual and countervailing thought that “ya, poor black kid in ghetto area hostile to police, makes sense” and “ya, sure, cops gonna cover up”.

            Can we just nuke St Louis and all surround areas from orbit?

            1. Please don’t. I live there. I thought the police had a problem when the first report hit the news Saturday–they didn’t have their story ready until the next morning. Usually they have the cover story prepared the moment they pronounce the victim dead.

              What I didn’t know until just now was that the poor kid was left lying there for four hours. If I had actually known the kid, I might have been rioting too.

          2. Reason is pretty good at poking sticks at the police in the egregious category. I don’t read that here. Although they didn’t mention he wrestled, or was alleged to have wrestled, for the policeman’s gun.

            At this point though, I don’t know what to believe about almost anything.

            Did he wrestle for the gun? If so, and he got shot, it is not an abuse case. If not, and it is a coverup then someone should go to jail.

          3. My thoughts run along the same lines as you expressed here. An individual who is “wrestling for the officers weapon” is no longer “an unarmed teen” and whatever happens, happens. BUT, once he is fleeing (without the officer’s weapon) perhaps deadly force is no longer justified. The teen did a stupid thing (fighting the officer) but stupidity alone shouldn’t be punishable by death.

            The REAL story, in my mind at least, is that we (the reader) no longer believe what we are being told by the media, or the police, or the government in general. Wh have come to believe (with good reason, it seems) that what promotes the agenda, makes them look good, reduces liability, and/or is in the best interest of the speaker/writer is what we are told and “the truth” falls way down the list of what matters. Can we get back to a place where we can believe what we’re being told by media/govt/etc. ??? It doesn’t seem likely.

        2. Maybe you can write up the story and sell it to Fox news…

  2. You spelled Cincinnati wrong

    1. Thanks. That always gets me.

      1. 🙂 In case you were wondering, Cincinnati it the only city in the world that really even matters…so you should definitely take that to heart!!!

        1. is! I can make mistakes toooooooo!!!

  3. The officer that murdered Timothy Thomas is named Evan Roach. He was transferred without a trial and that is one of the main reasons for the riots. The Cincinnati Police Department is nothing but a bunch of thugs and pigs.

    On a lighter note, Over-The-Rhine is really nice now. The riots only destroyed it for like 5 or 6 years 🙂

  4. Things have gotten so bad I am now sympathetic to the rioters. What else are they supposed to do? Cops are never held responsible for killing people. IF the family sues, the police will just write them a check on the tax payers’ dime and never even admit they did anything wrong much less punish the killer. As this point rioting is the only means available to get anyone to do anything. The cops have only themselves to blame for this.

    1. Stealing from neighborhood stores does not get any sympathy from me.

      When they are raging at the cops, I do sympathize.

      1. That part doesn’t. But the cops don’t want a riot. One happening is the only thing that seems to get their attention. Law suits and bad press certainly doesn’t.

        1. But the cops don’t want a riot.

          Why not? It’s all overtime.

          1. Because a few of them will end up dead. If being a cop ever became dangerous, they would just stop showing up to work and we would no longer have any law and order as Sudden describes below. Those cops were shitting their pants when that mob showed up. I guarantee it.

            1. Because a few of them will end up dead.

              No they won’t. They’ll just clock in some overtime as they crack a few heads and steal loot from looters.

              1. No they will end up dead. Plenty of cops have been killed in riots. And they won’t crack anyone’s head. They will cower in their armored vehicles and wait for the riot to end or the national guard to show up.

                How many heads did the LAPD crack in 1992? Not a god damned one of them. They just cowered in their fortified stations and let the mob run wild until the Army showed up.

                Cops are complete cowards. Time and again the police show themselves to be utterly worthless in confronting a real threat.

          2. Inspector Kemp: A riot is an ugly thing. And once you get one started, there is little chance of stopping it, short of bloodshed. I think, before we go around killing people, we had better make damned sure of our evidence.


            Inspector Kemp: A riot is an ugly thing…und it is just about time that we had one!

    2. Chanting “kill the police” is a bit discomforting to me still. Not that I hold the people that staff the police in a high regard, but a recognition that policing is among the few govt services that ought to exist and that some neighborhoods would look like ISIS controlled territories in their absence makes me a bit leery about a descent into chaos that would accompany a wholesale war against police.

      1. Yes. But I blame that entirely on the cops. It is only coming to this because the cops are so out of control and so unaccountable that people are left with no other option.

        You are correct that a breakdown in law and order would be tragic. I hope that never happens. But I don’t see how cops given a license to kill people is much better. We are getting closer and closer to the brink and the cops are the ones pushing us there.

      2. The entire industry (and that’s what it is) brought it upon itself. Police Chiefs in BFE making 6 figures for harassing teenagers, shooting dogs and maybe the random DUI? Nah, fuck that.

        I say this as a son of a retired (deceased) cop. They weren’t like this 20 years ago. At least not this bad.

        I do have a MAJOR problem with the looting though.

        1. The breakdown is really in the lack of ‘community policing’. This is why you see much smaller amounts of these types of incidents in small communities as a whole. Getting cops who are part of and involved in that community makes them much more likely to seek better, less violent solutions to the problem.

          The problem with communities like Ferguson and other North Saint Louis communities is that no one really wants to live there. The police all live in the suburbs. Therefore, your police force becomes an occupying army.

          1. The police all live in the suburbs. Therefore, your police force becomes an occupying army.

            This is exactly the case in NYC too. The cops are all Long Island and Jerz goons.

      3. If the laws that they enforced were just, then perhaps good people might be attracted to the profession.

        Unfortunately, the majority of what they are tasked to enforce is unjust, so it attracts the worst people to the job.

        1. Any job description that says “free guns, no education needed, good pay, guarantee never to be indicted for shooting something” will attract a certain kind of person.

      4. Chanting “kill the police” is a bit discomforting to me still.

        Yeah, they should stick with good old fashioned “Fuck Tha Police!”.

        Yes, the police do have a legitimate role. But fuck ’em.

        1. A legitimate role is no excuse for illegitimate behavior. The cops have way too much pride here to understand that, since they have they guns, only they have the power to make the first move to de-escalate the situation.

        2. Yes, the police do have a legitimate role.

          In theory, yes.

          In practice, it appears to be a pretty small part of how they spend their time.

        3. I guess “pigs” is kind of passe.

      5. There is no video of anyone chanting “kill the police”. There is no source for it except police statements.

      6. @Sudden: Did you get independent confirmation of that chanting? Or do you just choose to believe it? Some neighborhoods do look like ISIS-controlled territories, _because_ of how the police behave – and the sophisticated weaponry they’ve been given.

    3. I’d be more sympathetic if they were setting police cars on fire instead of fucking over local business owners.

      But I get you. What are they supposed to do, file a complaint with the police review board, or whatever the official channels are?

      1. I’d be more excited about people smashing windows of law offices and stealing office supplies. But it’s mostly the same “free shit!” crowd that, ironically, supports government doing the looting under cover of law. Finally these lazy fucks have to go out and do their own damn stealing.

        1. I agree. Government is doing the looting, under cover of law.

    4. “A riot is an ugly thing. Und I think that it is chust about time that wir HAD ONE!”

      1. I see this is a popular quote today, my posting it was not necessary.

  5. I agree with protest and some mayhem but burning down the best gas station in the area? Nope. Looting the few stores that remain in an low income town? Nope.

    1. …”burning down the best gas station in the area? Nope. Looting the few stores that remain in an low income town? Nope.”

      Voting the D ticket to keep the cop union in place? Nope.

      1. Unfortunately, cop unions are one that neither Ds nor Rs will fuck with.

        1. Yeah, even Scott Walker wouldn’t do that.

          1. In that case, vote the damn L ticket!

            1. As hard as I vote, it still doesn’t seem to work.

              1. Yer doin’ it wrong, Zeb.

                Its not how hard you vote, its how many times.

  6. One morning, Evan Roach woke from uneasy dreams and he found himself transformed in his bed into a disgusting parasite. He lay on his Kevlar-covered back, and if he lifted his helmeted head a little he could see his doughnut belly, heavily domed and divided by ceramic inserts into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover the flak jacket and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His bloated legs, pitifully pale compared with the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

    1. The only thing more disgusting and detestable than Evan Roach is the police department that defended him and the DA that refused to seek charges. They are all pigs. Scumbags of the highest degree.

  7. “Sharpton, despite his prominence in a number of instances of police brutality, doesn’t seem to have much of a track record of success.”

    That’s my nomination for understatement of the year award.

    And why bother talking about Brawley?

    Sharpton made anti-Semitic remarks that effectively condoned what amounted to a pogrom against Jews in Crown Heights.


    Why anyone pays this man any attention in regards to police brutality or when there’s a riot going on is beyond me. I still can’t believe he’s on television!

    Incidentally, expressions like “no justice, no peace” are an instinctive expression of social contract theory. There’s more to our moral obligations to unrelated third party individuals and their property than just a social contract, but if we have a right to revolt when the government violates our rights? Revolts are ugly things that the government should avoid by refraining from violating people’s basic rights.

    1. He also encouraged the arson of a shopkeeper in Harlem/Bronx (forget which). He is an evil, evil man. Watching him and his new BFF De Blasio blathering lately about their progressive “bona-fides” made me fucking sick.

      1. Didn’t he get knifed in Bensonhurst?

    2. “Incidentally, expressions like “no justice, no peace” are an instinctive expression of social contract theory.”

      Like many expressions, however, the meaning has evolved. Unfortunately, it’s evolved to mean, “We now assert our right to riot and break shit.”

  8. Why can’t these ignorant proles just calm down and let their LEO betters clear themselves of any responsibility?

  9. And of course above this article is a an ad – “Transition with Honor” showing a soldier getting off an airplane and slowly fades out and reappears as a cop…in the Albuquerque N.M. police force?!?!?!


    Transition to shoot homeless people and anal probe nervous drivers!!!!!

  10. Michelle Malkin, of all people, had a good take on this:

    Now that riots have broken out in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the police shooting of an unarmed black man who had his arms in the air, most people in this country are sure to be outraged.

    Not of the shooting itself because most people don’t give a damn about that.

    But of the looting, which is going to give police an excuse to hire even more cops and act even more aggressive towards citizens, all with the backing of a copsucking public who never felt the helplessness or the anger of having their own people gunned down repeatedly by those supposedly paid to keep the peace.

    1. hehehe copsucking

    2. Erm, nevermind. That was Carlos Miller’s take, sharing Malkin’s photo. Malkin is still a moron.

      1. Dammit! You just dashed my hopes expressed below!

    3. Wow, I didn’t know she had that in her… maybe all this is getting to a tipping point if conventional conservatives like her are seeing the problem.

    4. There is a lot of hate directed at Malkin on here and a whole lot of excuse making for liberals by some of our posters and a lot of the Reason staff. But show me a single white liberal who has anything that pointed or that correct about this, because I haven’t seen it.

      Good for her.

        1. I saw that. Should have not trusted any post without a link.

          1. Nothing wrong with looking for the best in people.

            …it’s just that the best in Michelle Malkin still isn’t very good.

            I find it disturbing when I hear such people described as libertarians in the media. I think a lot of people have big misconceptions about libertarians because people like Malkin are described that way.

            Yeah, it breeds resentment.

  11. mo’ footage of the riots

    My sympathies go to the 26 people shot in Chicago this weekend who don’t each get an Al Sharpton of their very own.

    1. I keep hearing about the terrible things happening in Chicago, is everybody there pissed at Rahm Emmanuel yet?

      And then I read about this trial:

      “Two summers ago a home invasion by gang members on the city’s South Side went wrong when one of the robbers shot another one in the back of the head, according to Chicago police. Sixteen-year-old Douglas Bufford was killed, and 19-year-old Jermalle Brown was charged with first-degree murder. His trial begins on Aug. 15, and it may attract more attention than usual in a city plagued by violent crime, just as his arrest did. Why? Because at the time of the shooting, Douglas Bufford and Jermalle Brown were also on the Illinois state payroll, earning $8.50 an hour to hand out antiviolence pamphlets.”


      Seems like everywhere else in the country, people are talking about police brutality–except in Chicago, where it all seems to be about how the police aren’t doing enough.

      1. The Chicago police are no more or less incompetent than any other big city PD. The problem in Chicago is the barbaric gun laws. Thanks to their gun laws, home invasion is not a contact sport for criminals.

        1. Most of Chicago’s gun laws were repealed last summer after Illinois preempted local laws.

          That’s not to say that the City government has embraced firearms. They were dragged kicking and screaming of course.

      2. If only Illinois would have paid them a living wage they would hot have had to turn to violence.

      3. is everybody there pissed at Rahm Emmanuel yet?

        If the Cubs haven’t been run out on a rail in over a century, why would a mayor be worried?

      4. “Two summers ago a home invasion by gang members on the city’s South Side went wrong …

        Would anyone care to explain what a home invasion gone “right” would be? A home invasion by its very nature is a violent criminal act. If no one had been killed in this incident, would it have been OK?

    2. I feel bad for the 26 and hope their killers are found and brought to justice. Unless you can show me that the government in Chicago has no interest in doing that, none of those cases has any relevance to this case.

      The problem here is not that the person was shot. As you point out, people get shot all of the time. The problem is that given its past record in prosecuting cops, it is very unlikely the government will even attempt to bring the killer to justice. That makes this case much worse and much more important than the 26 murder cases in Chicago.

      1. Brought to justice? How do you do that with no witnesses?

  12. “They carry Tasers to use as an alternative option to their guns.”

    But I thoughy Tasers wete worse than guns?

  13. unfortunately, all Sharpton does is take away from what should be the focus of the story – cops once more getting out of hand – and making it racial. And he glorifies himself a little bit, too.

    1. And he glorifies himself a little bit, too.

      I think you’re hugely underselling Al’s ability and drive to glorify himself.

      Going all the way back to Tawana Brawley, Al has done nothing but make himself the center of attention, using racism charges as his attention getter.

      1. I think wareagle was using comic understatement.

  14. I didn’t even have to read beyond the first paragraph of the article to know that this had to be a suburban Tea Party gathering as their “peaceful” prayer vigils almost always turn into unchecked riots, looting, and gunfire.

    1. Thanks – my first smile today.

  15. If I were King, one thing I would do is have all lawsuit victories/settlements come out of the cops’ pension fund. Their pensions are what they love more than life itself, and I think this might have the effect of good cops turning in the bad ones.

    1. Very good suggestion. Best political idea I’ve heard in a long time.

  16. Ferguson city leaders and police are receiving death threats. Meanwhile, local media outlets here in STL are confirming the FBI will take over the investigation into Micheal Brown’s shooting.


    1. “Ferguson city leaders and police are receiving death threats.” Source? In any case, is is worse than being shit 10 times when you hands are in the air?

  17. Cops are trigger happy. That’s why everyone should be “yes, sir” “no, sir” to them and move slowly so they can see you. And for God’s sake, don’t try to run away from them. They’re very likely to just shoot your dumb ass if you do that, whether you’re armed or not. These are not stable people and they’re armed with guns and immunity. Be nice to them and they probably won’t shoot you.

  18. If blacks didn’t riot at the first hint of the wind changing direction I might take them seriously, but frankly a white cop could shoot a black kid actively shooting at him and the ‘african-American community’ would be outraged and screaming racism.

    Here in SC we had a young black man in a hoodie on a 90 degree SC summer night who refused to remove his hand from his pocket, the cop called other cops, the guy shot himself in the head with the stolen gun he had been hiding in his pocket and there was outrage and protests and the ACLU held press conferences and community meetings. The cop in that instance was black. If he’d been white there probably would have been riots.

  19. Sometimes any excuse to burn and loot. That is another reason this world is doomed.

  20. Where’s the details of the shooting? You are blaming the police with no facts. As for Over The Rhine the people that were shot came at the police with weapons. After the protest the police pulled out of the Rhine and more blacks killed each other in one month than in the whole year before. I’m dubious of anything Sharpton has anything to do with.He’s a race baiting charlatan.

    1. Right. If we wait a little bit, the police will tell us exactly “what happened”. Of course the video recorder malfunctioned, so we’ll have to take their word for it.

  21. Didn’t take long for REASON posters to show why libertarians will never be taken seriously.

    1. Oooh, BURN!

  22. Riiight, because looting stores is TOTALLY the way to protest the police.

  23. What happens when store owners shoot looters to protect their property? How will Reason stand on that?

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