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Ferguson, Missouri

August 12, 2014 Crime, Featured, Ferguson, St. Louis County 9 Comments

The last events of last weekend were tragic, inspiring, confusing, and disappointing. Noon Saturday an unarmed young man, Michael Brown, 18, was shot by an unnamed Ferguson police officer, he died at the hospital. That night numerous protests & vigils were held. On Sunday evening more were planned, the family asked for them to be peaceful.

The photos & videos showed a large/vocal, but peaceful, crowd Sunday evening; likely the largest such event ever held in Ferguson.   I wasn’t there to see who & how it went from peaceful to lawless, including rioting, looting, and arson. Monday morning everyone is trying to make sense of the events, even though reconciling them is hard for most everyone.  Sadly, racist views often come out at times like these.

Yet we should all remember, looting & rioting takes place all over the world. It happens after major sporting events, natural disasters, and injustices. Some examples:

In 1979 people in San Francisco were upset with the light sentence Dan White received for shooting Mayor Moscone & Supervisor Milk:

Dan White, Milk’s assassin, was acquitted of murder charges and given a mild sentence for manslaughter, partly as a result of what became known as the “twinkie defense.” His attorney claimed that White had eaten too much junk food on the day of the killings and thus could not be held accountable for his crimes. He was sentenced to less than eight years in prison on May 21, 1979—the day before what would have been Milk’s 49th birthday—igniting what came to be known as the White Night Riots. Enraged citizens stormed City Hall and rows of police cars were set on fire. The city suffered property damage and police officers retaliated by raiding the Castro, vandalizing gay businesses and beating people on the street. (Harvey Milk Foundation)

From 1992:

German gangs smashed windows, looted shops and assaulted Dutch fans in 12 hours of violence surrounding Holland’s 3-1 victory over Germany in the European Championships in Goteborg, Sweden.

Riot police with horses and dogs repeatedly chased mobs of Germans through the center of Goteborg. The gangs dispersed and formed again, seeking openings through police lines to get at crowds of celebrating Dutchmen, but officers averted serious fighting.

Policeman Lasse Hansson said 23 were arrested, all Germans except for one Dutchman. He said charges against them included inciting riot, possession of weapons and resisting arrest. (Seattle Times)

Also in 1992, the LA Riots:

The LA Riots are mostly associated with the beating by police of Rodney King, but have a deeper and more complex background than that. We will start by looking at the background of Rodney King and the other causes to the LA Riots. (South Central History)

From 1998:

After the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl XXXII, 10,000 fans went a little overboard and tears of joy became tear-gas-induced tears when people began flipping cars, looting and destroying the Mile High City. The Broncos’ victory and the following riot were selected as top news stories of 1998 by newspaper and broadcast members of the Associated Press. (source)

Earlier this year:

$25K in damage done to Historic century-old Pioneer Square pergola during out-of-control jubilation. About six people arrested after midnight when crowd began throwing bottles at police. Crazed students lit furniture on fire and made bonfires. Thousands throughout Seattle took to the streets to revel in the Seahawks’ victory, the city’s first major sports championship in more than 30 years. Drivers honked their horns, fans launched fireworks and at least one bonfire was blazing near the University of Washington. (NY Daily News)

But why?

The idea that people in crowds act differently — more violently, more passionately and perhaps, with a compromised moral compass — than individuals acting alone is not new. LeBon and Freud proposed it way back in early 20th century and others have since built on the theory.

But is that really the main motivation at play here?

Some, like Columbia University’s Tory Higgins don’t think so. Higgins, a professor of psychology who studies motivation, believes that riots such as the these typically occur when people feel “ineffective.” “In situations like this, there is a long period prior to the riot of feeling that you’re not in control of your own life. It may either be financial, like unemployment or a low-paying job, or political,” he says. “They basically don’t feel respected or that they’re making a difference.” (Huffington Post)

There’s so much we don’t know, particularly about the shooting on Saturday. Hopefully an impartial & transparent investigation will be conducted, and the community will accept the findings.

Burnt out QT at 9420 West Florissant on Monday Aug 11, 2014, 9:37am
Burnt out QT at 9420 West Florissant on Monday Aug 11, 2014, 9:37am
The word "SNITCH.."  was painted on the sign
The word “SNITCHER” painted on the sign

Why Quik Trip? It seems, based on internet hearsay, Michael Brown visited the store right before returning to the apartment complex where his grandmother lives.

Yesterday I rode the #74 MetroBus from 14th & Washington north to St. Louis Community College — Florissant Valley and back. From the Quik Trip north, for 2 miles along West Florissant, I saw busted windows, shattered bus shelters, closed businesses, and police.   The Taco Bell my husband ate at in June, about a half mile north, had a busted window. The Walgreens at West Florissant & Chambers I passed in my wheelchair in April had a boarded window, and was closed. A guy on the return bus trip was saying the Walmart 2 miles north on West Florissant was closed.

Monday morning traffic was busy on West Florissant as people wanted to see the damage
Monday morning traffic was busy on West Florissant as people wanted to see the damage
We saw police investigating where a car had rear-ended a truck in the heavy traffic
We saw police investigating where a car had rear-ended a truck in the heavy traffic

The destroyed Quik Trip was built in 1989, I remember stopping there in the fall of 1990 on my way to visit a work supervisor who lived in the subdivision behind. QT may have been considering rebuilding the location, though they had likely updated the building in the last 25 years. It’s not hard to imagine Tulsa-based QT deciding to not rebuild this location.

The Walmart & Sam’s Club 2 miles north, both looted Sunday, were also built in 1989.

QT built this larger location at 10768 West Florissant in 2013, just off I-270
QT built this larger location at 10768 West Florissant in 2013, just off I-270, across from Walmart & Sam’s Club
The  McDonald's at 10873 West Florissant, built in 1993, was recently razed for a new building.
The McDonald’s at 10873 West Florissant, built in 1993, was recently razed for a new building.

The issues of the officer who shot Brown, the looters, etc should get resolved through investigation and the courts. The long-term implications for West Florissant can go any number of ways:

  1. Business owners see the looting as a one time thing and resume business as usual.
  2. Businesses remain but begin planning their exit strategy.
  3. Businesses don’t reopen.

Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of the rioting & looting. I want Michael Brown’s family to get the justice they seek.

— Steve Patterson

  • TheSharperWon

    Indeed, consequences to be considered. Mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles need to be at work at these businesses that were negatively impacted! With 72% of African American babies being born out of wedlock, this is a direct SLOW and STEADY impact of what I call WELFARE WARFARE! Purpose denied gives birth to death and destruction! Those taking it to the streets are the thousands of JaQuans who can’t read, who can’t do math, who can’t think analytically! a skillful teacher recognizes that that disruptive student in class acting out, more often than not, dare I say reaching out for help! JaQuan is living in a toxic chaotic environment, where lessons needed to be learned have never been taught! These thousands of JaQuans have spoken and continue to speak! The question, are the TEACHERS ready!

  • JZ71

    Since you apparently want to focus on the future, here are a couple of thoughts. One, targeting QuikTrip for reporting a crime to the police makes very little sense. The police officer did what he did, not QT. Michael Brown may or may not have been the thief, but some young black male was. If we’ve reached the point where businesses are being intimidated for reporting theft, then yes, businesses will be exiting Ferguson, and sooner than later.

    Two, corporate owners have more resources to rebuild, but also have less attachment to ANY area. It’s the numbers that will ultimately decide. If they expect continued profits, in spite of the challenges, a smart owner will rebuild. If profits were slim and the area is perceived to be declining, only an altruist or an idiot would reopen.

  • Mark

    I too want to see all parties get the justice that is being sought…..remembering that weight can be applied to both sides of the scale. Rioting is not a legitimate problem-solving option/response–ever, and those who participate should be arrested and incarcerated. And the reality is that people reap what they sow, and the rioting in this case has devastated an already distressed area. I can’t imagine why QT or any other business would care to resume operations there, just to set themselves up for the next irrational, emotional outburst. Perhaps the area should be left for the local community to rebuild. Who knows? Maybe local ownership of local businesses would discourage this animal behavior among local residents in the future Seriously, I can’t imagine that local ownership wouldn’t deter this sort of behavior among the local community, I hope I’m not wrong. Police can’t be allowed to arbitrarily shoot perps, regardless of any alleged level of disrespect shown to the officer by the perp, if applicable. Police should be held to a higher standard, and it is imperative that their training prepare them for this. Police chiefs across the country need to look seriously into their training programs. STL appears to be as racially divided as ever. Based on reader comments following various story updates and on informal comments I’ve overheard on the street relative to this event, there unfortunately appears to be very little progress being made toward racial harmony in this area. I hope I’m misreading the scene. But maybe a different strategy is in order. Sociologists need to speak up and share some of their insight.

  • JZ71

    As for rioting and looting, there are big differences between celebrating a victory and lashing out in frustration. Breaking windows and overturning vehicles because you’re drunk and happy will always be viewed differently than looting and burning aimed at specific targets, especially in poorer neighborhoods. If I were Metro, I’d be in no hurry to replace the glass in the trashed bus shelters. Burning down the QT will do nothing to change how police are trained or interact with young black males, but it will eliminate a good convenience store used primarily by LOCAL residents and employees. I’m surprised that city facilities were / are not targeted, since it’s the city’s employees and the city’s policies that appear to be at the core of the problem, not the retailers that are trying serve the area.

    • Mark

      Maybe I missed something in the updates, but I don’t quite understand your last sentence. How are city employees/policies involved here?

    • Mark

      Disregard. The police are city employees. DUH!

      • JZ71

        And what really confuses me is why anyone would want to loot a Taco Bell? I get shoes, rims, hair extensions and booze, I don’t get taco meat . . . .

        • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

          A window was busted, no evidence access was gained.

    • Mark

      You’re right. But “celebratory” rioting is juvenile, criminal and ignorant. “Retaliatory” rioting is malicious, criminal and also ignorant. In both cases, the perps should be arrested and incarcerated…with a judgement entered against them to cover damages. I’d be disappointed if any one of my three sons ever participated in either.

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