On the Ground in Ferguson

The scene is beyond bizarre

 

Ferguson, Missouri
The scene is beyond bizarre. No access to the protest area—one long street—by car. Park in sprawling suburban mall, with Target as the anchor. Most of parking lot is taped off, a vast deployment area for 1,000 police and military vehicles, surrounded by sat-link trucks and media tents. Trying to sort through this, I walked up on, and was escorted away from a national guard muster.

Walk a quarter of a mile, under a railroad trestle, and you’re on the street: bottom-feeder retail outlets, check-cashing and payday loans, yolo’s braids, liquor stores, pawn shops, furniture on credit. A Dollar Store is the big retail outlet. Only CNN has a tent at the protest area, for non-stop standup.

I did about 10 interviews with kids from the neighborhood, a few Church of God in Christ and AME ministers, a couple of cops, a few elderly women. The kids under 30 are the story. One woman told me she was put in plastic cuffs by the same officer, the week before Michael Brown was shot, on a traffic stop with her kids in the car. The kids were with her. Another woman told me a white cop cuffed her during a traffic stop a week earlier.

But poor black people muscled around by white cops—is this a story?

Detroit, Anacostia, South Fulton County, South Birmingham before you get to the white suburbs, it’s the same narrative minus the shooting. Economic desperation and accumulated indignities.

—Lou Dubose