A Modest Suggestion: How To Dissipate the Protest in Ferguson
By John Grant
There was a moment during MSNBC's live coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night through 2AM Tuesday morning when Chris Hayes and one of his guests conceded the police (now augmented by National Guard troops said to be guarding a police command center) begrudgingly deserved a good grade because -- unlike riots in Newark and Los Angeles -- no one had been killed. This was after cops had "barked" at Hayes and threatened him with macing if he and his camera crew dared again venture "in front of" the police.
It was about this time rumors surfaced that the police were planning to announce Tuesday morning new rules for media on the street. Frustrated police were beginning to take the usual position and blame the media for the persistent protests in Ferguson. Hayes wondered on-air what that might mean; he was concerned what the police would do without cameras covering their actions. Was the media creating disrespect for the police? Or was it the unaddressed murder of an 18-year-old African American manchild?
I've watched an awful lot of cable news over the past week, and Ferguson, Missouri, for me, is an amazing public collision of citizens rights and police power. One of the ironies of Monday night was how critical Shepard Smith of Fox News and a couple of his on-the-street reporters were of the police.
"There's not a bit of professionalism across the street from me," said one of the on-the-street Fox reporters live at around 10:30PM Ferguson time, referring to the gathered cops in military garb and gas masks. "I can't see what's provoking the police." Until that moment, protesters had been ordered only to keep moving -- not to stop and cluster up -- a command one might hear from guards in a volatile prison public area.
Both MSNBC and Fox felt the police had not been provoked at 10PM Ferguson time when they suddenly collected en-mass in warrior mode and started demanding on loudspeakers for protesters to leave the area. Soon, the flash bang grenades came out, the tear gas, the use of spooky L-RAD sound blasters -- all intended to force protesters to flee. As Hayes pointed out with a chuckle, having gotten a snootful of tear gas and fled himself, as far as clearing a street "this stuff really works."
It seemed clear to me sitting at home as it did to the reporters on the street and to the angry protesters themselves, that the police authorities had decided at 10PM Ferguson time that aggressive police action would begin. A midnight-to-5AM curfew had been lifted, but in effect what they did amounted to the same thing, a midnight curfew as a fact-on-the-ground. Dissipated stragglers could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis...
For the rest of this article by JOHN GRANT in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new uncompromising four-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/2416