LIVE: Ferguson Protesters Break Curfew, Face Off With Police


Protesters in Ferguson out past curfew. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • Protesters in Ferguson out past curfew.

For the first time since unrest started over the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed eighteen-year-old, Ferguson is now under curfew after Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency.

Ferguson residents and protesters have reacted angrily to the curfew, which starts at midnight and goes until 5 a.m., as they have to most police interventions during the long, tense week of standoffs, rioting and looting. Many demand to know the consequences if they break the curfew -- will police shoot rubber bullets, pepper pellets and tear gas, like on other nights? Will they go further, finally employing the snipers stationed on armored vehicles near the protests?

During Ferguson's first night under curfew, Daily RFT will be live updating this story with news from reporters in the field, Danny Wicentowski and Ray Downs. Follow them on Twitter for live updates.

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and protests in Ferguson.

3 a.m. - That's all she wrote, folks. Our reporters are at the office getting something together from tonight, so check back with us for more later. Good night.

--- 2: 50 a.m. - Johnson, the commander at the scene, says police got a report of a shooting victim near QuikTrip. Police deployed tear gas at Red's BBQ to get protesters back so first responders could rescue the victim.

Johnson says police were prepared to stay back until the shooting. He said the decision to use tear gas and increased police presence was due to protesters using guns, not breaking curfew.

The shooting victim is in critical condition in the hospital, and protesters transported the victim to the hospital. It's not clear if the victim is a protester or bystander. St. Louis County police will investigate. (See more below at 1:01 a.m.)

A police car was also shot at, Johnson says. Police made seven arrests with the charge of failure to disperse.

"I can tell you I was disappointed in the actions of tonight," Johnson told reporters just before 3 a.m. "The crowds we've had for the last two nights were citizens obeying, protesting."

There was no looting, he said.

--- 1:59 a.m. - Oh, it was tear gas after all, y'all. --- 1:45 a.m. - Our reporters on the ground in Ferguson are leaving and coming back to the RFT office, saying the crowd has dispersed after gas was fired and rain picked up again. They seem shocked to hear police are claiming they threw smoke, not tear gas. Here's what Ferguson looked like as we left: --- 1:30 a.m. - Rumors are spreading that Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and a St. Louis native, was arrested. They're not true. KSDK (Channel 5) says Dorsey was not arrested, simply escorted away like French (below). --- 1:22 a.m. - Police did take Alderman Antonio French away for a moment, but he was not arrested. He's on Fox2Now right now. --- 1:15 a.m. - Arrests begin.

Information is hard to gather because journalists are limited to where they can stand. There's also lots of misinformation and rumors spreading rapidly on Twitter. Careful, St. Louis.

--- 1:09 a.m. - More "tear gas." Police say it's smoke, not tear gas, but still burns your eyes. --- 1:01 a.m. - Someone has been shot. --- 12:54 a.m. - Our reporter on the scene Danny Wicentowski says a St. Louis County police cruiser drove north on Florissant Avenue, and he heard loud cracks. He says he thinks they were rubber bullets. Lots and lots of smoke canisters fired, and there are flares in streets. The police line has not moved. --- 12:48 a.m. - Tear gas fired at protesters. It's smoke, cops say. Journalists/leaders say that's a lie. --- 12:40 a.m. - Police are moving forward, starting with armored vehicles. The protesters are chanting loudly and discordantly, "Hands up, don't shoot."

Police make the first announcement: "This is the police department. You are violating the state-imposed curfew." Leave or face arrest "and/or other actions," police say.

Things are moving fast. Here comes the gas. Police are warning journalists. The small group of protesters are not flinching. --- 12:35 a.m. - Police are gathering calmly away from protesters, near the businesses that were looted last night, including Feel Beauty Supply. A large crowd continues to gather just down the road. The chants have picked up again. --- 12:20 a.m. - Still no violence. Police are gathering. People are chanting. Protesters have learned from police and are setting up their own blockade. More updates on the next page. --- 12 a.m. - It begins. So far, those breaking curfew are peaceful -- maybe in part because of the rain? --- 11:57 p.m. - Ray Downs, our reporter at the scene, says there's a crowd nearby just waiting for midnight.

"They're not going to leave at twelve," he says. "The cops are going to do something with them."

--- 11:45 p.m. - With minutes to go, our reporters say the crowd has thinned out, leaving about 100 demonstrators gathered on Canfield Drive. Leaders are urging folks to go home.

More live updates on the next page. 11:35 p.m. - OK, this is it folks. Peaceful protesters said they'd start leaving the area around 11:30 p.m., and many have already done so.

The question is, will stragglers leave the area? Or are police in for a standoff? --- 11:22 p.m. - As the curfew nears, journalists head to the media staging area and many rained-on protesters are heading home. Captain Ron Johnson, who's in charge of police security in Ferguson, is in the parking lot of Ferguson Market and Liquor, which was looted last night after allegations that Michael Brown stole cigars from there just before he was shot by a Ferguson police officer. Protesters are gathering like they're ready to get rowdy, then calm down after talking to Johnson: --- 11:00 p.m. - This disturbing report is in from St. Louis Public Radio: --- 10:59 p.m. - The New Black Panther Party is trying to get folks to go home before curfew. Will it work?

Here's our previous report on the New Black Panther Party here in Ferguson.

See more live updates on the next page. 10:36 p.m. - We're finally getting details on the media staging area, where journalists will be sequestered after the curfew begins: The Missouri State Highway Patrol says journalists must stay inside the staging area from midnight to 5 a.m. --- 10:07 p.m. - There's a rumor that nearby municipalities are shutting down, but KMOX (1120 AM) says that's not true: --- 9:50 p.m. - So far, it feels like Thursday night -- but more ominous. Thursday night didn't have a midnight curfew. Here are a few important images/moments from the scene: ---
Protesters march in Ferguson as police guard stores. - RAY DOWNS
  • Ray Downs
  • Protesters march in Ferguson as police guard stores.
8:30 p.m. - Peaceful demonstrators seem to have taken two different approaches to tonight's curfew: obey it, or get around it by protesting somewhere else. Antonio French, the St. Louis Alderman whose videos and photos of the scene have made him a portal for the rest of the world into Ferguson, and other community leaders are taking responsibility for moving people out of the streets tonight. But local activists who don't want the curfew to stop them from protesting are asking demonstrators to march from the QuikTrip at 11 p.m. into Dellwood, a neighboring community.

As rain falls and demonstrators find shelter under a QuikTrip, one former gang member tells the Riverfront Times that police could have a difficult time quelling a crowd that's armed itself.

"People have the weapons the police have, the weapons the police have are the same weapons the people have on the streets," says Marvin Martin, 36. Martin says he used to be a member of the gang the Bloods, where he went by the name "D-Red."

"Overall, the city is already very, very dangerous," he says. And now, on a sixth night of unrest? "People are getting strapped." ---

A large crowd marches past the QuikTrip in Ferguson in protest of the killing of Michael Brown. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Danny Wicentowski
  • A large crowd marches past the QuikTrip in Ferguson in protest of the killing of Michael Brown.

6 p.m. - As police take over the Target parking lot here at W. Florissant Avenue and Lucas and Hunt Road, strapping on bullet-proof vests and preparing for a night of protests, a middle-aged man parks nearby and looks on from behind his sunglasses.

All this violence has reminded him of Cookie Thornton, the man who burst into a Kirkwood City Council meeting with guns blazing, fatally shooting five people, including council members and a police officer. The massacre forced mostly-white Kirkwood to face its racial tensions; Thornton, who is black, accused the council of exploiting his neighborhood for the profit of white people in town.

"This ain't that little town in Florida whre they killed Trayvon Martin," the man tells Daily RFT, declining to share his name. "This is St. Louis. There's a lot of history here."

He wasn't optimistic that the coming curfew would keep peace in Ferguson tonight. Rather, he says, police presence unites demonstrators and spurs them to keep protesting.

"These people ain't going to take it lying down, St. Louis ain't like that," he says. "I hope it won't happen, but all it takes is one bad move, and it'll be a blood bath."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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