Ferguson Falls Apart Again

August 16, 2014 | Amy K. Nelson

It was at 11:33PM local time when the woman I call my ‘Ferguson fixer’ called my cell phone. Roberta, a mainstay here, had been helping me the last few days in this town, giving me a lift, pointing out people I should know, telling me about the politics, tipping me off when something may be happening.


So when she called and told me something was definitely going down with police at the McDonald’s, I headed over there on foot. Once there, I started photographing the line of police officers, who stood adjacent to the McDonald’s and who by that point were all dressed in riot gear. One of them told me to move, because I would be hit. Someone from across the street had thrown a glass bottle, and the cops were waiting for just one more to move into position.

About 45 seconds after that warning, along came another bottle. Suddenly, all that peace that had been welcomed, embraced, shared and felt the night before in this broken town, evaporated. The cops were back, with protestors lining up right across from them.

And they were angry. The bumbling press conference Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson gave earlier in the day — when his department released video footage of an alleged robbery Mike Brown committed — infuriated Brown’s family, and much of this community.


So many of them shouted and yelled (often “Fuck The Police!”) and when police would tell everyone to disperse, it only angered more. Antonio French, the St. Louis alderman and perhaps the most influential person during this entire process when it comes to negotiating peace, and Anthony Shahid, a New Black Panther Party member and resident here for over 30 years, pleaded with the crowd, which was ebbing and flowing and consistently on the precipice imploding.

Suddenly, though, the cops began getting into their vehicles, and the crowd cheered. They were leaving, Ferguson had won. Until it hadn’t. As the police drove away, tear gas and flash bangs littered the street and just like that, Ferguson was back under siege.

(Photos: Amy K. Nelson/ANIMALNewYork)