Michael Brown Shooting

Video: 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, Missouri 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.

Click the link below for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for more content like this.

NEXT: Cops to Release Name of Michael Brown's Killer Today

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  1. I guess it took whatshisname to shame reason into finally addressing police abuses.

    1. It’s about time the libertarians broke their silence on that.

    2. Is that supposed to be a joke? Reason has a long and extensive record of exposing and opposing police abuse.

      1. Is that supposed to be a joke? Fist of Etiquette has a long and extensive… record of catching the unsuspecting off guard with his (OR her) comments.

  2. what kind of police-hating monsters are on this site? Don’t you know a cop is killed every 58 hours?

    A Cop Is Killed Every 58 Hours

    Fact: Last year, 100 law-enforcement officers were killed. On average, over the past decade, there have been 58,261 assaults against law enforcement each year, resulting in 15,658 injuries.

    Fact: New York City has lost more officers in the line of duty than any other department, with 697 deaths. Texas has lost 1,675 officers, more than any other state.

    1. I’m pretty sure traffic accidents are the largest cause of death for cops.

      1. When I was looking for numbers for my quick calculation below, I found an article discussing dangerous jobs which said the same thing.

        1. Click it or toe tag it.

    2. Interesting numbers. So, 697 died in New York since Jan 1 2014? Since 1914? Incorporation?

    3. Decided to check something quickly. Wikipedia says there were about 900,000 people in law enforcement and authorized to make arrests in the US in 2008. Assuming that’s fairly constant, it means the death rate for law enforcement was about 11 per 100,000.

      Fact: Law enforcement is so safe it’s not even close to the top 10 hazardous professions.

    4. “Lord Humungus”,

      I think it’s important to note that Ms. Malkin and her source include all deaths, not just murders.
      According to the F.B.I., from 2003-2012 667 officers suffered accidental deaths and 535 officiers died “non-accidental” deaths.

      I think this is an important distinction that Ms. Malkin does not clarify.

      Otherwise I appreciate your sarcasm (“police-hating monsters”).

    5. Police officer is not among the highest risk occupations. Furthermore, what risk there is is largely related to driving, not intentional violence.

      Trying to justify the militarization of police with the kind of out-of-context statistics you cite is dishonest.

      1. Sarcasm rolls off you like water off a duck’s back.

      2. I think he was being sarcastic

  3. “An officer from the Ferguson Police Department allegedly shot Brown to death on August 9.”

    I am pretty sure this an undisputed fact. You might want to consider re-phrasing.

    1. The gun discharged, several times, unfortunately the guy was in the way. Allegedly.

    2. I was going to make the same comment. Good thing I read the other comments first for a change.

  4. While I agree with the video, you left out an important point. Several business owners were looted and one had his store burned to the ground. Free speech and the right to protest goes hand-in-hand with the NAP and property rights. It’s not cool to loot and burn.

    1. Property Rights. Of course.

      The looters are wholly responsible for their actions. It did not happen in a vacuum though. I’d be angry with the looters and with my local Police force antagonizing the locals to the point of rage.

      1. That’s about right. Our cops would never overreact. Now excuse me while I overreact against these overreactions.

        1. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

          Since the general government attitude is, “People voted. We’re in charge. We use the violence around here. The debate is over. Take this, and FYTW,” then it’s reasonable to assume that, yes, in fact, the debate is over.

          When anyone in an argument says, “OK, debate is over, we’re being violent,” then this implies that all arguments will be ignored, and one of the few ways to act in disagreement is noncooperation. And, since the state seems to love violence, does it really have the moral authority to say, “Our violence is good, but yours is bad”?

          One of the exploits of democracy is they way it diffuses responsibility. Politicians claim justification because of elections with secret ballots. Cops claim justification by laws and oversight by elected officials. Voters blame politicians. So, apparently, everyone is responsible, and no one is responsible.

          So, when people want to respond to violence with violence, who’s supposed to be the target?

          In the end, the political class and the militarized cops are pretty good at making sure they’re not among the casualties. So, I think their target options get very focused at that point, by process of elimination.

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

    *facepalm* He wishes it was demilitarized.

    “English motherfucker, do you speak it?!”

    1. Uh-oh. Now that I’ve watched the video and seen that the speaker quoted above was black I feel I may have made an inadvertant RACIST comment. oops.

    2. The perimeters of “demilitarized” zones are generally pretty well militarized.

  6. Another glimmer of “media bias” is that most news reports I’ve seen refer to the young man as “unarmed” . . . if the facts aren’t in, how do they know that? They call for “facts” but are still happy to polarize this by declaring the guy “unarmed”.

    1. The COPS were the ones who admitted ON THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING that they found no weapon on or near Michael Brown. They said this almost a day before they ever told us there was an altercation at the officer’s cruiser.

      Saying he was unarmed is just reporting what the official sources said themselves.

      1. Reporting what they said is one thing, labeling the guy “unarmed” is biased because he was also a robbery suspect but they don’t put that label in every time they refer to the young man.
        There’s a difference “reporting” what they said and deliberately making a point of labeling the guy definitively not a threat when there may well have been a justification for his being shot. I don’t argue there is, but they deliberately chose that label to spin the story.
        “Unarmed teen killed by police”
        “Robbery suspect killed by police. No weapon found on suspect”.
        Both factual but with different cultural effects.

  7. I’m going to walk home in the middle of the street, and see if I get hassled by the cops.
    These people are taught from birth that the cops are dicks. Why do they insist on provoking heavily armed, ‘racist’ dicks? They get what they ask for.

    1. Are you suggesting that walking home in the middle of the street is the same as asking to be shot and killed by a police officer?

      1. You’re going to draw their attention. Once you have their attention, if you get all confrontational, the’re going to respond.

    2. Black people do that all the time, and it’s not to provoke cops. They do it for attention. While they’re walking in the middle of the street, they’re displaying themselves, in front of traffic and passers by.

      Ever watch a black woman cross the street? It’s like watching a long, drawn out performance art.

      Of course, some people will say that’s racist. But I counter this by pointing out that, as part of black culture, it’s something I appreciate and admire. Therefore, I magically become very enlightened and politically correct.

  8. OK, made me laugh. Now I can speak freely on minority topics, and shield myself via light hearted sarcasm. I 2nd the heavy handed Police response, shameful. They got all those armored vechicles, I counted 113 on a train traveling from northern AZ into Cali, and now people reject the use of ’em. Poetic justice, may their rubber tires rot.

    One quip in the video, and 1 that I hear almost every news blip, is the poor kid was unarmed. No, he was wrestling with the cop over his gun, which was fired. The details aren’t all out, yet if true, the kid did something dumb enough that threatened the officer’s life. At that instance, all bets are off. I survive and the perb’s life is worth zip. Of course, if I lose my cool and gun him down after his aggression ceases, then I must pay the consequences. To get off easy, I should express that I can understand and support punk hoodlums wanting to take my gun away with intent to kill.

  9. Now that Reason has chosen to take the side of the demonstrators against the police, I assume those demonstrators will be signing up with the Libertarian Party? That sales of “Atlas Shrugged” will skyrocket in Ferguson? The liberty loving demonstrators will demand an end to the welfare state, affirmative action, and federal intervention in local affairs?

    Or is this just one more case of libertarians giving away the farm and getting nothing in return?

  10. Good reporting. The word “palpbable” was not found in the online dictionary that I use. What does it mean?

    1. Dogfood is ‘palpbable’ to a dog.

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