PHOTO: Courtesy of Christopher Schaefer
By Michael Holmes, staff writer for The Current
University of Missouri—St. Louis student Christopher Schaefer, senior, business administration, was violently attacked at a recent Ferguson protest strategy meeting at the Greater St. Mark Missionary Church in North St. Louis County on November 6. He remained active within the community through live streamed interviews with protestors on Bambuser, a live broadcasting website, under the user name “.Student.” Schaefer live-streamed current events related to Ferguson to inform citizens of their progress, in addition to providing a platform to showcase many citizens’ perspective of these protests. During protests, he asked questions to discover the demands of protestors. He said that he has always promoted safety above all else and encouraged protests to remain peaceful.
Schaefer received a text message about a meeting and proceeded to head to what he thought was a typical strategy meeting. Before he was able to fully enter the meeting, a person came up to him and said “No live streaming,” so he obliged and put his phone away. Schaefer noted that he knew about 10 to 15 of the people at the meeting and that initially the environment felt safe, even as the conversation turned somber.
About 40 minutes into the meeting Schaefer heard someone yell “Phone off the hook!” and pointed Schaefer out. Five people, three in front, two behind, charged towards Schaefer, stole his phone and charger, and began beating him. “I was hit in the head a couple of times and I was hit in the neck. I was hit in the arms, wrists, and hands,” Schaefer said. Schaefer reports that he sustained injuries to his arms, wrists, ribs, back, legs, and shins, as the assailants stood over him, landing punch after punch, kick after kick.
Five to ten other people in the meeting jumped up and began forming a circle around Schaefer, to prevent any more hits, and told him to run.
He ran down Chamber Road into oncoming traffic, screaming for help, though no one responded. He tried to run to neighborhood homes for help, but no one responded. He then ran into a local Walgreens, only after running past the dismissive and unaffected cashiers that “just stared” at him. Finally one of the photo lab technicians called the police.
Schaefer said that he is “afraid to go back to the street protests,” as a result of his vicious attack. While he plans to continue following the progression of Mike Brown’s case, he cannot risk his safety by continuing to physically participate in the protests. He said that while he cannot say for sure if he was “set up,” others have come forward saying that the attackers might have thought he was undercover, taking information back to cops, and that members of the group “Lost Voices” could have been responsible for the attack.
Schaefer said that once the verdict is released on whether or not Darren Wilson will be charged for the killing of Mike Brown, he hopes that all protests will remain peaceful, as they were intended to be. He acknowledges that while some protestors have made statements or actions to elicit a reaction from police officers, he never expected such a negative reaction to be directed towards him.
Follow Schaefer on Twitter at StudentStream1 and his Bambuser account of www.bambuser.com/channel/.Student. Schaefer was billed $3,166 for the hospital bill and no one has offered to pay for the damages. To donate to Schaefer’s medical bills use paypal to send money to the email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/gx7w68.
© The Current 2014