Ferguson Calms as Worldwide Protests Continue

( [email protected] ) Nov 28, 2014 03:28 PM EST
Ferguson Riot
Reuters/Jim Young

Following Monday's grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the small Missouri town has seen more rioting, looting and vandalism. Prior to the decision, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the state's National Guard and declared a state of emergency.

These precautions, and months of preparations and training by the local police force, did not quell protesting, and left residents and business owners vulnerable to protestors coming in from outside the city.

"This was much worse than the worst night we had in August," St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar said in a press conference Monday night.

Ferguson Riot
Reuters/Jim Young

But late in the day on Thanksgiving, the Ferguson police station looked more like a ghost town than the meeting point it had been for protestors throughout the week. And for the first time since the grand jury decision was announced, no arrests were made over night.

On Monday, during a 45 minute reading by Robert P. McCulloch, St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, mayhem hit the streets of Ferguson. Within 90 minutes, looting, gun shots, car fires and vandalism was rampant. Protesting continued throughout the night, and Tuesday morning saw smoke rising from a dozen or so building fires.

Business owners hit by vandalism in August realized their worst fears were now reality.

Ferguson Riot
Natalie DuBose weeps outside her Natalie's Cakes and More bakery, after vandals broke her store in Ferguson, Mo. Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP Photo

Natalie Dubose, owner of Natalie's Cakes & More, was already devastated by the destruction her bakery endured in the days after Brown's shooting. This week, more broken windows and damage to her business left her without hope as she sought to fill orders during the busiest time of the year.

Dubose chose to take her ordeal online and created a GoFundMe page where the response not only encouraged her to carry on, but raised far more monetary support than she imagined.

"There's a spirit of determination in the air now. We're determined we're going to be here," Dubose told ABC News. The response from around the world has raised more than $250,000 for her to rebuild, and she's received more cake orders for Christmas than she thinks she can handle.

On Thursday night, Ferguson protestors took their movement indoors. According to ABC News, the local Wal-Mart was closed over night after demonstrators began marching around registers and halted sales.

Organized groups asked shoppers across the nation to stay home on Black Friday to protest the decision.

But amid the increasing calm in Ferguson, demonstrations continue across the globe. On Thursday, six protestors were arrested in New York City in an attempt to disrupt the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. At the New York Public Library, a large group organized on the front steps, and nearby, seven more were arrested by the NYPD.

Protesters in Los Angeles. Photo: Reuters

According to the L.A. Times, nearly 350 were arrested in Los Angeles, and in London, protestors marched on the U.S. Embassy.

Last week, authorities uncovered a plan by two men to bomb the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, as well as attacks on the Ferguson police chief and the St. Louis county prosecuting attorney. This plan was foiled due to a maxed EBT card by that belonged to one of the men who had attempted to purchase supplies to make a pipe bomb.

But even with the ongoing unrest world-wide, Ferguson business owner Cathy Jenkins said she felt encouraged on Thanksgiving morning as she got to her family restaurant in the town of less than 25,000.

"I came out this morning thinking I was going to have to call my family to help and sweep, and I get to my restaurant and I have my customers already here sweeping up glass and boarding up windows," she said. "So, I'm thankful, overwhelmed...I feel better this morning than I did last night."

Jenkins said the group working to get her business secure are what Ferguson is all about. "This is the Ferguson community."

Ferguson Riot
A resident, lying shirtless, keeps warm as another approaches the blazing skeleton of Juanita’s Fashions R Boutique after it was burned to the ground in Ferguson, Missouri on the early morning of November 25. Photo by Adrees Latif/REUTERS

Others devastated by the violence were not as positive.

"What can you say? I mean, I've lived here 40 years. I love this community and I'm devastated," resident Susan Ankenbrand told NPR.

Marilyn Crider, who manages Ferguson Dental, had a full schedule of patients on Tuesday but was unable to open for business. Crider's company was hit in August following Brown's death, and was vandalized again on Monday night.

"I've been crying all night; I'm going to cry again," she said. "It's so sad. It's just so sad. You know, these people in Ferguson, they're good people. They didn't deserve this; they didn't do this."

Where to Now?

Dr. Eric Mason, the African American founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Penn., responded to the situation on a page of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention's website.

"Now that I am pastoring an inner city church that happens to be multiethnic, I still feel the effects of racism," Mason wrote. "Even in planting Epiphany Fellowship Church, with all of the earned theological education I have received and over two decades, I have to borrow the credibility of white pastors to help get resources to plant the church."

Raised by parents 50 years older than him, he writes, his mother and father were witnesses to lynching at racism at its height growing up in the Jim Crow South.

This week, Mason also took to Twitter to express his thoughts on the shooting death of Brown, and received - what he called - profoundly grievous comments from his white brothers.

"The lack of empathy and ignorance and the depth of naivety was heartbreaking," he wrote. Speaking from the experiences of an African American Christian man in America, Mason asked himself what we should we all do, and turned to James 1:19-20 for an answer.

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

For the case in Ferguson, and with similar cases across the country, Mason interprets the verse in James to mean:

  •  Whites - mourn with hurting blacks and listen
  •  Blacks - mourn, be angry and do not sin
  •  All people - seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

"The cross is a meeting place of conflict," Mason wrote. "Let's go to the cross together and deal with issues. Jesus died on the cross to face our sin and brokenness, not to ignore it. Let's head there together."