The situation should cause concern to every American. The case breaks out of the usual mold that the media places around racially driven protests, because in this case the police response to the uprising was so swift and so brutal that it was impossible to ignore.
If you carefully look at the timeline of events, and then overlay them into a situation where there was something as widespread as a country-wide citizen revolt, or revolution, the magnitude of force and violence would probably lead to a terrible loss of life.
Exploring the Police State in Ferguson Missouri
To understand the Ferguson situation accurately, it’s important to be aware of the timeline of events leading up to it.
At 11:51 a.m. on Saturday, August 9th, a dispatcher receives a call about a robbery at a convenience store. The dispatcher reports to police that the suspect is headed toward a convenience store named Quick Trip.
Shortly after noon, an officer encounters an unarmed man named Michael Brown and his friend. Police Chief Joe Belmar later told the media that Brown attacked the police officer and reached for the officer’s gun. Brown ends up shot and killed.
The shooting of an unarmed man was only the spark that set the smouldering ashes aflame. A Rolling Stone article published on Aug 28th titled Insecurity State: The Politics Behind the Drama in Ferguson described it best.
An unarmed black teenager is dead, shot multiple times by a white cop from a disproportionately white PD in an overwhelmingly black community. You know everything that that means.
And what makes many Americans so disturbed about events there is that more of America is starting to look like Ferguson, Missouri.
Economically depressed neighborhoods. Increasing security and an increasing in intrusive government surveillance measures. A constant reminder in the media of situations where police used excessive force against non-violent, American protesters.
It isn’t surprising that the spark would first come from a black neighborhood, as those are the communities consistently at the bottom of the economic totem pole in America.
However, it was the sequence of events, the surreal response of local and federal authorities, that will likely inspire more Americans than ever before to start stockpiling weapons and ammunition as a defense against the militarized police state of the near future.
The Escalation of Violence
Emotions erupted following a candlelight vigil for Michael Brown, when local residents started looting local stores, followed by a police response and the arrest of over 30 people.
August 11th, police receive numerous death threats in response to the shooting, and hundreds of local residents gather outside the police station demanding justice. Still more arrests. Protesters gathered at West Florissant Avenue get tear-gassed for “not protesting peacefully”. Police refuse to name the officer involved in the shooting, due to death threats (the officer was later named as Darren Wilson).
Tensions continued to rise between protesters and police – with police even getting physically violent with CNN journalist Don Lemon.
In the following days, things go from bad to worse.
August 13th, police detain reporters from the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. At 9 p.m., police toss tear gas into the growing crowds, even tossing tear gas directly at a news crew (Al Jazeera America). 16 people are arrested and two officers injured.
August 15th – all weekend hundreds of protesters gather in the streets, confronted by a massive police force, armored trucks, and more tear gas. The Governor imposes a state of emergency in the Ferguson area, and imposes a curfew (stage one of the future police state). Governor Nixon even told the media, “This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching.”
On Sunday, one person is shot by police as a cloud of tear gas rose above the violence. Sunday night, protesters respond by tossing Molotov cocktails and shooting at officers. Protesters even coordinated an effort to try and block roads and attack the police command center.
On Monday, August 18th, Governor Nixon officially calls in the National Guard (stage two of a future police state).
Getty photographer Scott Olson gets arrested. After his release, he complained to Getty Images VP of News, “I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job.”
On August 19th, during overnight protests, four officers were injured by rocks and bottles, while two citizen protesters were shot.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Ferguson to brief with the Justice Department about possible civil rights violations, as the grand jury investigation into criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson was started.
From August 21st onward, the violence faded and all future protests remained peaceful.
But what if they hadn’t?
Operation Garden Plot
Back in 2012, Top Secret Writers released the details about a National Guard-developed strategy called Operation Garden Plot, detailing how to respond to any civil disturbance in the U.S.
The Plot was first activated during the L.A. riots in 1992, when over 2,000 Guard soldiers were called in to assist.
In a document from the Army titled “Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Operations Plan” (OPLAN), the militarization of civil policing is described as part of the process during “civil disturbances”.
“Garden Plot applies to the military departments, the unified and specified commands, the defense agencies, and other DOD components for planning, coordinating and existing military operations during domestic civil disturbances.”
The document describes the following suggested military activities when dealing with a civil disturbance.
- Shoot to wound, not to kill.
- “Non-lethal shooters” should “have the means” to use lethal rounds if necessary.
- The use of dog teams to intimidate the crowds.
- The use of a “multiple projectile round” capable of shooting 48 caliber rubber pellets directly into a crowd.
- The use of the Modified Crowd Control Munitions-Ground Emplacement (MCCM-GE) to issue a “flash bang” effect, and the disbursement of 32-caliber pellets in every direction.
These are the weapons (as well as others) used by the National Guard in any escalation of violence against U.S. citizens. It is questionable whether those weapons are always non-lethal, as well as whether the application of these technologies is always justified.
Is it to ensure public safety and security, or is it to suppress any rebellion against the “authority” of the United States government?
The U.S. Human Rights Image
Because of events in Ferguson, it is becoming even more difficult for the United States to maintain an ethical high ground in discussions about human rights issues around the world.
Every year, the U.S. State Department publishes a Human Rights report detailing International human rights violations. These are usually very serious violations that are justifiably listed in the document. One example of this is police brutality in China.
Listed in the 2013 State Department report, for example, was the case of Shen Yong.
For example, on October 24, plainclothes police arrested Shanghai petitioner Shen Yong for trespassing and, according to media reports, beat him. Hours later police returned Shen to his family, and he died shortly thereafter.
The report continued to describe the situation, which was eerily similar to news reports Americans were hearing recently about events in Ferguson.
Authorities detained more than 100 petitioners at a protest following Shen’s death. A number of violent incidents in the XUAR resulted in multiple deaths. Official accounts of these events generally blamed ‘terrorists,’ ‘separatists,’ and ‘religious extremists’ for what were portrayed as violent terrorist attacks on community members and security personnel.
This fact was not lost on the Chinese State Media, which published criticisms of U.S. hypocritical attitudes toward other countries. One source essentially told the U.S. to try taking care of its own human rights problems before pointing the finger at others.
The Ferguson incident once again demonstrates that even if in a country that has for years tried to play the role of an international human rights judge and defender, there is still much room for improvement at home. […] Each country has its own national conditions that might lead to different social problems. Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.
Back in the U.S., the President of the Young Democrats of America responded to the violence in Ferguson, MO with the following statement to the media.
I am gravely concerned about the current situation in Ferguson that has [evolved] in response to the Michael Brown tragedy. I am especially concerned at the lack of respect for the rule of law and extensive overreach by our law enforcement in Ferguson.
YDA also provided a few examples of human rights abuses in Ferguson, such as the detentions of St. Louis alderman Antonio French, and the tear gassing of a crowd where Missouri State Senator Maria Chapelle-Ndadal was present.
While the violence has subsided for now in Ferguson, Missouri, all of the events that occurred there throughout August have left a deep distrust and suspicion of police and National Guard response to protests, and they’ve created a deep wound in the national reputation on human rights.