Yes, Police Used Tear Gas on Protesters in Ferguson


This was the scene in Ferguson, Missouri as President Obama spoke tonight about the grand jury results in the police shooting of Michael Brown: the president urging non-violence on one side, police conflict with protesters 


Quite the contrast. The images went out on live TV, and reports from the scene indicated that police had deployed tear gas, just like they had during protests over the summer. 

But was it actually gas? At 9:15, shortly after protests got going, the St. Louis County Police Department tweeted that they had used smoke, and not gas. Several news outlets repeated the claim. 

But it sure didn't look that way on CNN, where reporters on the scene appeared to have been tear-gassed on live TV:

And, as it turns out, the police were deploying gas, as the department eventually confirmed on Twitter. 

At this point, a few hours later in the evening, it's hard to tell what is smoke fired by cops, what is tear gas, and what is smoke from the multiple buildings that are on fire in downtown Ferguson. 

NEXT: Would a Jury Have Convicted Darren Wilson Anyway? And What Does That Mean?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m not sure I see a problem with teargasing rioters. Or journalists.

    1. It could cause cancer in ferrets!

      1. Then tear gas needs to be banned. Ferrets are freaking kewl.

        1. They’re an invasive species!! Not kewl.

          1. I DON”T CARE. They are like cats but not evil.

            /runs for cover

    2. Or cops for that matter. Rioters, cops, and journalists: a trifecta of horribleness.

      1. Tear gas it from orbit.

        1. It’s the only way to be sure.

  2. Meanwhile, several businesses have been set on fire. Not just looted, set on fire. Little Caesar’s, Beauty World, Walgreens, Sam’s Meat Market, a storage place, and right now an O’Reilly’s autoparts

    Is anyone at Reason ever going to speak about the rights of property owners not to have their businesses destroyed?

    1. It’s definitely getting out of hand when stuff like that happens at multiple locations. Hopefully, they can catch the arsonists.

    2. No because Reason doesn’t give a fuck when peoples’ natural rights are violated by non-state actors.

      If a cop accidentally broke a window Reason would be all over it, but when livelihoods are destroyed by scumbag rioters it merits nary a mention.

      Incidentally, I’m sorry if this makes me a bad libertarian, but I don’t particularly give a shit if rioters are getting teargassed in the midst of mass arson and looting.

      1. I suppose the issue regarding tear gas revolves around whether it is being used in a responsible/intelligent manner. Obviously, this is a difficult and fluid situation, so it is much too early to say whether it has been misused to some degree.

        It also is concerning if they deny the use of tear gas, but are in fact deploying it.

        1. It also is concerning if they deny the use of tear gas, but are in fact deploying it.

          This is true. However, it’s about the 30th most ‘concerning’ thing that’s happening tonight, and reason would do well to focus on the top 29.

          1. Yes, I’d say the looting and fires certainly warrant an article/post.

            1. The looting and fires don’t fit the Reason narrative.

            2. OT: No way are you Bo as has been suggested

          2. Lolz…they basically did everything in their power to instigate a riot: wait until after dark to announce the decision and start lobbing tear gas into the crowd immediately. Surprise, they got the riot they worked so hard to instigate. And to what end? So that they could all stand around peacocking on prime time TV.

            1. The timing was odd.

            2. They should have done it Thursday at 2:00 pm when everyone was drunk on tryptophan.

          3. Tear gas is painful, but it’s not mustard gas. I’d prefer tear gas if I had to choose from tear gas, truncheon, or rubber bullet.

      2. You’re not going to get invited to the kewl cocktale parties with that attitude Irish.

    3. Little Caesars up in flames? Hot n Ready for all

    4. What galls me most about complaints like yours is the assumption that everything happens in a sterile vacuum.

      You show an incapacity to understand WHY rioters riot. Understanding doesn’t imply condoning it, but condemning without understanding is something I usually associate with rigid-minded lawn odor types.

      Can you not conceive what it is like to be harassed your entire life for your skin color? Every city, as far as I know, shows simple marijuana possession arrest rates for blacks far above that of whites, even though usage rates are the same. an you not conceive what it is like to be on the receiving end of that kind of systemic bias, every day of yoru life? To be stopped for driving while black, walking while black, frisked and arrested while black?

      At some point that frustration just boils over, and logic and rationale go out the window. That’s what causes riots, looting, and arson, and for you to watch it on the innertubes or TV and condemn it without understanding only shows your lack of humanity.

      I repeat, understanding does not imply condoning, but condemning without understanding shows a rigid narrow mind which is ill-suited to being human.

      1. LOL at this wall of bullshit

      2. I repeat, understanding does not imply condoning, but condemning without understanding shows a rigid narrow mind which is ill-suited to being human.


        I think most of us, including Irish, sympathize with the rage as we are all pretty sick of police transgressions, but that doesn’t excuse the destruction of private property.

        And that he didn’t include some weepy “I understand their pain” peon means fucking nothing, so you can feel free to fuck right off with that bullshit.

      3. *Can you not conceive what it is like to be harassed your entire life for your skin color? *

        No. I also cannot conceive why this would motivate you to steal a box of Swishers and toss around another non-white person who happens to be a shopkeep and would rather you didn’t steal from him.

        I also cannot conceive why you’d walk down the middle of a street instead of using the sidewalk, nor can I conceive why you’d lip off the a cop who told you to get your stupid self out of the street.

        I guess I’m old-fashioned that way.

    5. Yeah, when will Reason stand up for property rights!?

      It’d also be nice if they could take a clear stance on first degree murder.

    6. No one’s property comes before hundreds of kids having an awesome good time.

  3. Obama and Holder are getting what they hoped for.

    1. I found it very significant that the prosecutor mentioned Eric Holder several times, but we didn’t have Holder at his side for the announcement. I think they were trying to pin the feds down a bit by letting us all know that they have all of the same information – and now so do we.

      Kinda daring them to bring an indictment in the teeth of that. Of course it looked to me like the White House was playing both sides so that if the opportunity arises they can bring an indictment later in response to political pressure. Obama went out of his way to avoid saying anything about the merits of the case in his speech, which fits this narrative.

  4. Cops just need to back off and let Darwin sort this out. Our little slice of Somalia.

  5. I don’t know how to show the url of a twitter post, but here


    Look at that, the owner of a store looking at the ruins of what was once his business. Yet all you care about is tear gas being used?

    Same guy I think that Brown manhandled. Little Indian guy.

  6. As much as we feel the milicops can be gun happy and power hungry, tonight’s events needed tear gas.

    1. Yeah. Like I keep saying, if you want to bitch about police militarization, do it when it’s clearly a problem – like serving warrants and such for non-violent offenses.

      But for riot control, it’s almost a must.

      Riots are nasty, nasty things. You have to stop them before they get out of control.

      Tonight despite the whining about tear gas, the police didn’t and it won’t be the protesters or the police paying the price – it will be business owners.

  7. Watching events unfold on CNN and FOX it appeared that the initial storefront vandalism was the work of about a half-dozen people who were actively opposed by others.

    Then there was a crowd of 20 or 30 that decided it was a good idea to attack a police car and try to overturn it. Later reporting said there were bottles and rocks being thrown at police at this time as well. The initial volley of tear gas (and apparently bean bags as well) was directed at the people vandalising the police car. It worked to disperse the threat. So far not so bad for the cops.

    Then they went full-on “my dick is bigger than your dick” and fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and began advancing with their heavily armored recreational vehicles.

    Now, I don’t know exactly how the police could have handled things and avoided violence and looting. But I do know that the course of action that they did choose was not the right one. They seemed to be following the “respond with overwhelming force” doctrine to disperse threatening crowds immediately. I think this was a huge mistake, but we’ll never know, will we?

    1. Weak.

    2. Sounds like we need another investigation to get to the bottom of this. BTW, Eric Holder has already volunteered his services.

    3. The looting started when they overturned a police car which was later set on fire.

        1. Prolly their oldest car.

      1. I was struck by just how few “agitators” it took to make things go south. It really did look like there were no more than 50 people (out of a thousand or two) that were looking to assault the police and vandalize property. Really even less than that – there was a couple of guys throwing trash cans and signs at windows, then there was a couple of guys who brought lighter fluid to burn things. The flipping of the car and throwing rocks is where the bulk of the 50 guesstimate comes in. Yet it took them less than a half-hour to overwhelm the thousand other folks who were trying to be all peaceful-protester types.

        The looting seemed to take hold when the police pulled back to transition from “policing” mode to “riot control” mode. That gave a half-hour window to the opportunists who wanted to get some free stuff – or just have fun breaking things.

        The protesters had a good plan to have people in place to protect storefronts from vandalism. You could see them taking defensive positions at each building. It didn’t help at all. A couple of guys grabbed trash cans and it took them about 3 tries to get the first window out. All in less than a minute. Everywhere there was looting the networks reported that people were yelling at them to stop. Not that anyone was listening.

        1. Don’t you understand, we should gas them all and let god sort them out. We need the firm hand of government to save us.

        2. Doesn’t take too many agitators to get the agitators going, does it?

  8. In times like these we have to question just how much the police need to be “demilitarized”. Did they cause part of the problem? Yes. Does that give rioters the right to destroy other people’s property? No. How should police handle situations like this? I don’t know. But when buildings are being destroyed, shots are being fired, and violence is on the brink…. Police have to protect the rest of the community.

    I’m not saying the police should be more militarized or that they shouldn’t be reduced. But we do need to have more debate about how far, how much, and how it should be done. Thoughts and prayers are with all the people involved.

    I also think there was probably “probable cause”… Not sure how there wasn’t at least an indictment. Ham sandwiches should all move to ferguson I guess.

    1. In times like these we have to question just how much the police need to be “demilitarized”.

      Police shouldn’t be militarized at all because they are not the military.

      1. Can they have militarized vests? Those seem pretty useful.

        1. The police should be allowed what the citizens in the juristiction they are working are allowed. This means if the locals can;t open or conceal carry then the police can’t either.

          1. APC’s aren’t illegal and I see more stories about those than anything else.

      2. a 100 times this ^

        And the military has higher standards for rules of engagement than the police do.

  9. What I wanna know is: is the Mississippi river flammable? (and did I spell it right?)

    1. Got any Greek Fire or Napalm?

      1. No, just some greek yogurt. But I read summwher that fascist corporations pollute the earth to make all that greek yogurt. Lemme see if it’ll burn, yeah! mmm, smokin some yoghurt. Intense.

  10. Of course it was hot gas. Police don’t inventory smoke bombs.

  11. The police also helped create a conflict by positioning a huge line of riot police across the square. It gave a crowd that had no focus and was just milling around something to do. You could watch from the overhead shot as the people were milling around and running here and there and slowly began congregating across from the police line. It was as if they had all this energy and didn’t know what to do with it until somebody showed up with their dukes up ready for a fight.

    Then when the police were needed to prevent looting and help the fire department respond to arson, they pulled back to provide a denser front. So nobody was protecting property for a half-hour or so as all the looting took place. Kinda got the worst of both worlds.

    1. There are several groups.

      There are the protesters at the PD. There are looters. There were protesters on the highway

      There also seems to be an active group trying to burn down buildings. This has to be the 9th or maybe 10th so far.

      1. Yeah, the violence seems very staged and very intentional. The interstate group initially seemed to be pretty organized and planned. They even brought their own cones.

        I wonder what the thinking was in announcing this late at night. I would have thought that announcing it at 7:00 am would have been the best move to avoid violence. Nobody likes to party in broad daylight.

        1. Chances are that an overwhelming majority of the people looting and burning are not even locals.

  12. I think Obama blew it as a leader tonight. Holder and his team have surely formed an opinion as to whether an indictment is justified. They have all of the same info as the grand jury. If they agreed with the grand jury, Obama should have said so in his speech tonight.

    And if they disagreed they should have announced that fact along with the particulars of the indictment tonight. The fact that they did neither doesn’t tell me that they are carefully weighing the evidence, it tells me that they want this as a political issue and they’ll indict at a time that suits their political needs.

    1. The first Bush blew it during the LA riots. Remember 1968? I don’t thank god. But Johnson didn’t run again. Riots are just not good for incumbent presidents.

  13. If rioters were burning down my place, the rioters would be hoping the police showed up to get me off their asses. You can be pissed off without burning down other people’s stuff. When that starts, it’s time to break out the tear gas and a great big can of whoop ass. If random assholes are attacking innocent property owners, I’d support the property owner’s rights to exercise their self defense rights. Including shooting the bastards. Disagree with the grand jury, raise hell in city hall council meetings, vote the guys you don’t like out of office. Just don’t start breaking shit and expect it to be risk free. Tear gas is getting off lightly.

    1. It is just that simple. Shoot some fucker as he breaks into your store and I’m sure his friends will move on to a different store. If it happens at the next store, Happy Looting Day will be officially over.

  14. Such a boner for collective punishment throughout these threads tonight.

    1. What should happen to rioters, Apatheist? Is it not understandable to wish for an end to the vandalism and rioting?

      1. I’m okay with shooting the looters and leaving the protestors alone. Gassing everyone for the actions of a few seems like collective punishment.

        1. Well, it’s a little hard to distinguish when they’re standing next to each other. That’s why they use tear gas instead of bullets.

          1. The looters are the ones breaking into the stores. The rioters are the ones burning buildings and cars. The protesters are not looting and vandalizing.

            1. And the three groups are mutually exclusive. They have a treaty and everything.

        2. Did the police force everyone to open their eyes next to the cartridge and take a deep breath? Because if not, tear gas is nothing more than powerful motivation to walk away.

          1. Did the protestors suddenly lose their right to assemble and be forced to walk away because the police cant tell the difference between those violating the law and those that aren’t?

            1. Did it suddenly become kosher to use “gassing”, a term meant to evoke war atrocities, to describe annoying smoke?

              1. Sidd, ever been in CS gas? It is nasty stuff – some folks aren’t bothered too much, but many feel like they have inhaled fire or fish bones.

            2. The police have basically three options here.

              1. Do nothing, let the rioters burn and pillage as much as they want, allowing the property owners’ rights to be violated.

              2. Try shooting the rioters, and possibly shoot innocent protesters, i.e. risk violating the protester’s right via major injury and possibly death.

              3. Use tear gas to disperse the whole crowd, violating the protester’s speech rights.

              Seems to me that option 3 is the least-bad and most-recoverable-from option. It’s a lot easier to protest again later than it is to rebuild your burned store or come back from the dead after being shot.

              1. That’s fine, just don’t lie about it. Also, try to get the tear gas where the rioters/looters are, not where supposedly peaceful protesting is occurring.

  15. Surfing the reporting tonight it is apparent that the paid talking heads are not listening to the evidence before them and are not altering their schtick if it doesn’t fit the evidence.

    On every channel I visited there was at least one analyst telling us that the prosecutor killed the case and didn’t even ask for an indictment. One guy said “they never even put any charges before the grand jury”. Another said “He had his assistants kill the case and I’ll guarantee that they never even asked for an indictment”.

    Now, we just heard the prosecutor tell us that they asked for 5 specific charges, ranging from first degree murder to manslaughter. But OK, you keep on telling everybody that they didn’t present any charges to the grand jury. One activist/analyst on FOX was hell-bent on telling us that it is a travesty of justice that this case never got a hearing and all the evidence was swept under the rug in secret. He was certain that the evidence showed that it was murder and a criminal jury should decide the case. He denied that the Grand Jury was able to hear any of the evidence.

    Of course, if you are the type who wants to have a martyr for your cause, you can use your powers of confirmation bias to only hear what these guys are telling you and avoid what the prosecutor had to say and avoid the massive pile of evidence that the prosecutor dumped into the public domain.

  16. I’m just glad that the government has the last word on violence. I mean, with a situation like this, things could have gotten really out of hand, if anyone could just commit violent acts at will.

  17. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  18. They should’ve cracked out the mustard gas before these vandals were able to light the stores on fire.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.