Friday night saw more unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, as protesters once again took to the streets. The latest round of protests came after police released the name of the officer involved in the Michael Brown shooting. That announcement, however, was overshadowed by the release of surveillance camera video that police claim shows Michael Brown involved in a strong arm robbery of a convenience store, shortly before he was shot to death.
While Friday’s protests had the potential to incite the sort of violence that occurred in the town earlier in the week, two things seemed to help keep the situation more under control. First, police on the scene showed greater restraint than they had when protests first erupted. KMOV reports that there were clashes, and at least one incident where police dressed in riot gear moved in to disperse a crowd of protesters. One officer was injured by an object thrown by a protester. But KMOV also reports that some officers stood by and watched the looting, apparently under orders not to engage the looters.
But KMOV also mentions another occurrence that appears to be getting mostly ignored by the national media: peaceful protesters stood guard at stores in order to prevent looting. Mentioned almost as an afterthought in the New York Times, reporter Alan Blinder writes:
Many other retailers, though, were left untouched, in part because some demonstrators blocked entrances and windows in a bid to limit looting. Such conduct, they said, diluted the seriousness of the message they were trying to send to the police and the public.
KMOV says that protesters could be seen blocking entrances to local businesses, in order to keep looters away. Sometimes it was a losing battle, as looters would return as soon as community members had left. Still, the protesters were able to keep damages minimal. KMOV’s reporter describes how at one business, a single protester kept looters at bay.
Captain Ronald Johnson, of the Missouri state police, who was put in charge of the situation on Thursday, expressed his unhappiness at how the video of the convenience store robbery had been released. But he also expressed his unhappiness at the return of violence. He said, “In our anger, we have to make sure that we don’t burn down our own house.”
Here’s a report from KMOV: