Screenshot from Ferguson unrest after grand jury decision on November 24. Baseem Masri’s live stream, screenshot taken by Eric Wynen, The Current.
While the University of Missouri—St. Louis students had already begun Thanksgiving Break the story that has gripped the nation on the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson continued to dominate the headlines and national debate. The violence which erupted on Monday following the release of the grand jury decision turned out to be worse than that experienced in August following the shooting. Protests went nationwide and even worldwide. Here is a day by day breakdown of events of this past week, beginning with a press conference held here on the UMSL campus.
Monday, November 24: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon hosted a press conference in the J.C. Penny Conference Center Summit room at the UMSL at 5:30 p.m. Just 2 and a half hours before the grand jury release. Governor Nixon was joined by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, and Public Safety Director for the State of Missouri Dan Isom. All speakers were urging peaceful protesting after the grand jury release in the Ferguson case.
The grand jury has been meeting since August 20 whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown on August 9. The grand jury verdict was read at the Clayton Courthouse at 8 p.m. The verdict to not indict Wilson was released by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch at a closed media only filled room. McCulloch also announced that he was releasing all the evidence presented to the grand jury by posting it to a website for public and press review.
Violence erupted after the decision. A statement from the Brown family urged peace and President Obama addressed the nation at 9 p.m. saying, “That [change] won’t be done by throwing bottles. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property. It certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody.”
Police did not allow protestors to assemble in the street. Protestors lawfully assembled on the sidewalks. Gunshots were heard throughout neighborhood preventing police and firefighters from stopping fires. A total of 25 stores were looted and damaged and 12 stores were burned during the night following the decision release. Trashcans, police cars, and a car dealer’s 10 cars were also burned. Some protestors self policed violence and vandalism during the night protecting some local businesses. Cathy’s Diner was one of these businesses saved by a human chain preventing protestors from doing harm to the building.
Elsewhere in St. Louis, protestors assembled at I-44 and Grand shutting down both directions on the highway around 10 p.m. Eastbound I-44 was cleared around 11:20 p.m. Temporary flight restrictions into St. Louis at the Lambert Airport had been put into place as of 11 p.m. The St. Louis Galleria closed at 6 p.m. Monday night and University City cancelled all activities and meetings Monday night.
Tuesday, November 25: Governor Nixon held a press conference at 1:30 a.m. along with Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson and St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar. All were shocked at the amount of violence and vandalism. Nixon said that he deployed the National Guard to the Ferguson Police Department to help prevent more damage.
A police officer was shot in the University City Delmar Loop late into the night of November 24. The police officer was responding to a burglary in progress call that happened at 10 p.m. The police found a woman shot in the leg in her home, she was taken to the hospital, but later died. Three police officers approached the house looking for the shooter and one was shot in the chest. That police officer was taken to the hospital and is in a stable, serious condition. The shooter was found and killed on November 26 by 2 FBI agents. Continued story on November 26.
All St. Louis public schools were closed November 25 along with other schools in the area.
A body was found around 9 a.m. on November 25 of an unidentified male unresponsive in a car parked near Canfield Drive where Brown was killed. In Ferguson, 61 arrests were made during the night and all but 2 were from the St. Louis metro area. In the city of St. Louis, 21 arrests were made. Windows along South Grand were smashed and police are said to have used tear gas there as well.
Hundreds of protestors peacefully shut down I-44 on November 25 from 12 p.m. to about 2 p.m. walking from Kiener Plaza to the St. Louis Court House in downtown St. Louis. Protestors then tried to shut down the highway near the Edward Jones dome and according to the police bottles were thrown from the protestors and they were dispersed.
Governor Nixon held another press conference around 2 p.m. on November 25. There he announced the deployment of 1500 more National Guard to the original 700 from November 24 to help keep protesting peaceful and protect property and people in Ferguson.
Overnight Tuesday, 44 were arrested. 11 p.m. rioters flipped and burned a police car in front of Ferguson City Hall. A car near the Michael Brown memorial was set on fire and gunfire prevented police to respond to the car. The St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade had been rescheduled due to the protesting as well.
Two “The New York Times” journalists, Julie Bosman and Cambell Robertson, released Darren Wilson’s address endangering his, his new wife’s, and expecting baby’s life. Charles Johnson in turn posted the two journalist’s addresses at Gotnews.
In response to the unrest in Ferguson, a curfew was in effect in East St. Louis from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. from November 25 through December 1 for people 17 and under.
Wednesday, November 26: 2 arrests were made overnight as protestors gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department. Police are looking for the person or persons who took an AR-15 from a police car that was flipped and torched the night before.
Protestors gathered at Kiener Plaza at 10:30 a.m. then walked to the old courthouse, then to city hall with police blocking the roads for the protestors. Once at St. Louis City Hall, 3 tried to gain entry and were arrested.
2 Special Agents from the FBI were shot around 2:53 a.m. Wednesday morning after helping out University City Police tracking a murder suspect. Suspect was Major Washington, wanted for shooting 3 officers, including 2 FBI agents, and the shooting and killing of his mother after a break in on November 25. On Tuesday, agents got a tip that Washington was hiding out in unincorporated St. Louis in the 1800 block of North Hanley. Washington was barricaded in the house and the agents had to call for backup. One of the agents was shot in the arm and the other the leg. Both wounds are not life threatening. Washington was found dead Wednesday afternoon. It is not clear how Washington died yet.
Singer Garth Brooks cancelled his appearance on the “Tonight” show on November 26 because it “seemed distasteful” to appear on the show after the grand jury decision. Brooks did not want to spend the day promoting his show and ignore what happened. He was replaced with Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Colicchio. Brooks has offered to reschedule but nothing is confirmed. Brooks did not cancel his show in St. Louis.
Thursday, November 27: Thanksgiving Day, no arrests were made. Volunteers dropped off food to the National Guard who had to work over the holiday. Volunteers also gathered at churches to help in soup kitchens and others gathered on South Florissant and South Grand to help vandalized businesses board up windows and clean up vandalism.
Protestors disrupted Black Friday shopping for stores that were open on Thanksgiving. Protestors were at Target and Wal-Mart in Brentwood, 2 Wal-Marts in St. Charles, and 1 Wal-Mart in Manchester. In Maplewood and Kirkwood police and National Guard members were present in case of escalated violence.
Friday, November 28: Demonstrators used social media hashtag #NotOneDime, #Blacklivesmatter, and #Stlblackfriday to stage a “Die In” at the Gallaria and other malls on Black Friday. The “Die In” consisted of protestors lying on the ground in remembrance for those who were killed. Demonstrators met at Shaw Park then were told to go to the Gallaria around 10 a.m. Stores closed gates and doors as about 200 to 300 protestors moved past the stores. 2 Macy’s employees came out to lead a chant. The mall closed to let everyone leave. Protestors stayed outside the mall to march for about 90 minutes after. The mall reopened about 2 hours later.
Protestors were at the Galleria, Chesterfield, and West County malls throughout the day with the intent to close the malls. West County Mall was closed about fifteen minutes around 4:30 p.m. About 100 protestors were at the Chesterfield mall and the mall was closed from about 7 to 8 p.m.
Protestors gathered outside of Ferguson Police Department once again. A police officer was injured during the protests overnight. That night 16 arrests were made and only 1 arrested was from St. Louis.
Friday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced there will be funds available to help businesses destroyed during the unrest. There will be $625,000 of zero interest loans available for businesses. For more information check out the Small Business Relief Program online or by phone at 314-206-3235 or e-mail at RecoverySTL@stlregionalchamber.com. Representatives from the Missouri Department of Insurance are open to answer questions at 800-726-7390. For Missourians who lost their jobs during the Ferguson unrest, they can be eligible for unemployment benefits and should visit moclaim.mo.gov.
Governor Nixon also announced Friday that he is calling a Special Session for Missouri Legislature to ensure payment for ongoing operations in Ferguson and elsewhere in the region. The Governor is expected to exceed the estimated budget $4 million for National Guard services and $3.4 million for the State Emergency Management Agency, which includes the Highway Patrol. The budget covers emergency response events between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. He will be asking the Missouri General Assembly for more money to pay police enforcement and National Guard services for Ferguson and St. Louis region.
On November 28, the annual Ferguson Northern Lights celebration that was to be held on November 30 was postponed.
Saturday, November 29: Protestors gathered at various intersections like Hampton and Kingshighway. Protestors were also in attendance at the Ferguson Police Department. Darren Wilson resigns November 29 under pressure from outside that threatened the lives of other police officers and community members if he stayed with the Ferguson Police Department.
Demonstrators started a 120-mile march from Ferguson, Canfield Apartments where Brown was shot, to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City Saturday afternoon. This march was planned by the NAACP.
Reverand Al Sharpton organized 150 ministers from around the country via conference call to pause during their Sunday services to pray for justice and peace.
Sunday, November 30: Reverand Al Sharpton spoke at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church at 11 a.m., the church where Michael Brown’s funeral was held. Sharpton then went to Brown’s father’s church at 1:30 p.m. The Flood Christian Church was burned down during the night after the grand jury announcement. Sharpton went to help kick off fundraising to rebuild the church.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles held a press conference to talk about Officer Darren Wilson’s resignation. Wilson had been on paid leave of absence since August 9. The mayor announced that Wilson will not receive a severance package with his resignation. Knowles announced new initiatives will be put into place to bridge the gap between the community and police. A task force to review complaints and provide input on policy and procedures will meet once a week as part of this initiative. The city will implement a multi-point plan to increase minorities in the police department. The Ferguson Police Department’s youth outreach program will go to school districts in the area giving students a chance to meet and interact with police officers next school year. The police department will also offer scholarships for African-Americans to attend the police academy and scholarship recipients would repay the money over a two-year period with employment in the police department. Ferguson Police Officers will also receive $100 to $300 a month for living within the city limits beginning next year. Knowles assured the community that Ferguson would rebuild after the rioting, fires, and looting that occurred since November 24.
Ferguson will continue to be a major national debate. Protestors want to continue to focus attention on the problems that led to this tragedy. There is still an ongoing federal investigation by the Federal Justice Department. There is also the option for the Brown family to bring civil action against former officer Darren Wilson. UMSL students will continue to have the opportunity of seeing a major historical event unfolding near the campus. UMSL faculty will continue to be sought out as experts in various fields by a national news media, hungry to drill deeper into this story. And the UMSL administration will continue to offer the services of the university as a forum and catalyst for community dialogue and reconciliation.