Ferguson Residents Prep for Days of Street Conflict
We’ll soon learn whether or not a grand jury chooses to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, three months ago, in Ferguson, Missouri. In the meantime, activists groups are preparing to protest the no-indictment vote most consider inevitable.
Dozens of organizations, from the ACLU to newer groups like Hands Up United, are expected to come out after the verdict to draw attention to the issues raised by the shooting, such as racial discrimination, police brutality and the militarization of police forces.
Their planning is extensive, and speaks to the heavy police expected in places like Missouri, where yesterday the governor declared a state of emergency in preparation for the verdict. One group, called thisisthemovement, circulated a dense Google document that includes a list of equipment–such as shatter-proof glasses and medical supplies–emergency numbers (protestors are encouraged to write them on their bodies in permanent market in case they get arrested) and a list of “safe spaces” where protestors can escape the cops in Ferguson and the nearby cities of Shaw and Clayton.
Above a photo uploaded to the Instagram account De_nichols showing protest gear, including water, medicine and a utility knife, among other items.
The document also links to a map of “potential protest spaces” across the St. Louis area, first reported on by the conservative website, The Gateway Pundit. It was initially credited to the popular Facebook group, Justice for Mike Brown, but the site backtracked on its claims after the creator of the Facebook group publicly denied it was behind the map.
The two apparent creators of the Google document (identified by their Twitter handles @deray and @nettaaaaaaaa) did not respond to Vocativ’s request for comment, but activist and educator Deray McKesson did publish in mid-October an “Open Letter From Ferguson Protestors and Allies,” In it, he called the Michael Brown shooting an “American horror story” and lambasted police for their role in the violence that broke out in Ferguson following Brown’s death.
In an effort to head off such clashes, the Don’t Shoot Coalition published 19 “rules of engagement” for how police should interact with protestors, including the suggestion that police avoid using “crowd control equipment, such as armored vehicles, rubber bullets, rifles and tear gas.”
Other groups have hosted seminars in preparation for the protests. The Missouri-based Hands Up United organization held a “Know Your Rights” workshop, and the organizations such as Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) provided protest training, including basic first-aid lessons such as how to irrigate your eyes if you get tear gassed.
Above, a Know Your Rights workshop held by Hands Up United in Ferguson.
Protestors can also sign up for text alerts so they can learn immediately when the grand jury hands down its decision. Demonstrations are expected to extend well beyond Ferguson and include roughly 50 cities across the U.S., according to a list of planned protests listed online.