Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th. Since then, the town has been depicted in the media as more caricature than place. Since the shooting and subsequent protests and riots, it’s become short hand for a slum where ‘disaffected black youth’ run the streets, jack up unsuspecting store owners and are incessantly hassled by the cops.
In fact, Ferguson is a pleasant burg on the outskirts of St. Louis. It’s not a ghetto. Neither is it a fancy gated community. It’s a leafy suburb marked by simple, boxy, unadorned, working class homes. Gutters are full of leaves, not garbage. There’s pride of ownership in these homes. Lawns are mowed, bushes are trimmed.
On a Monday afternoon, the neighborhood was quiet where Michael Brown was killed. Considering the media stories of unrest, you’d think an angry mob would be seen at the ready, spoiling for a fight. But no. Ferguson was quiet because people were out of their houses at work or school. There were no mobs. No menacing looking thugs. There were a few friendly looking younger adults seen going in and out of the mini mart where the Michael Brown saga started.
And here’s what it looked like when Michael Brown was last in this store. Michael is wearing the ball cap.
Just a few short minutes later he would be dead.
People were understandably shocked at the death in their midst. The many witnesses–including a rapper who used Twitter to tell of the horror–saw something happen at the cop car and then the shots rang out. But that shock quickly devolved into an official narrative, a meme. To wit: Promising young black man cut down by white racist cop in a cold blooded killing.
The body of Michael Brown lay bleeding for hours in the middle of the Canfield Drive.
There are places scarred by the unrest you’ve seen in the news, yet they look starkly out of place during the day in this well kept town. Down the street from a chic bakery along West Florrisant Avenue sits the demolished gas station, attacked and burned out by a mob.
It was torched to prove…to prove…well we don’t know what the angry mobs who moved in after the police shooting were trying to prove, but they sure were destructive.
The angry mob vows to come back, however–when, if–Officer Darren Wilson is found innocent of discharging his gun as a thug began an assault on him while he still sat in his police cruiser. According to grand jury released by hackers, eyewitnesses say they saw Brown initiate the attack. What happened after that was not leaked and is unclear except that Brown was killed in a hail of bullets.
The local prosecuting attorney has vowed to release immediately all transcripts from the grand jury when the conclusion is made public.
But what about the other victims? Businesses are on the ropes because of the threats of the mobs and customers’ fear of going to pick up Chinese food after dark. Not all, but some. As I reported in the Independent Journal Review,
Business owners in Ferguson, Missouri, are complaining the riots and protests have made people ‘too scared’ to buy stuff at night and they’re struggling to make it.
CBS affiliate KTVI in St. Louis reports restaurant owner Tammy Cao, who owns the Hunan Chop Suey restaurant, has lost thousands of dollars since the August shooting and its aftermath:
We’ve lost $200 to $300 in business nightly, people are afraid to pick up in the night, after dark. People are too scared at night … I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The losses in revenue are already on top of the money Cao’s and other businesses will have to spend to replace broken windows and other damage insurance won’t cover.
The mobs’ anger has also taken they toll on black owned businesses–looting hard-earned inventory– of one and pushing another business owner to the brink of bankruptcy,
Rokyaya Biteye, the owner of Daba African Hair Braiding, told Reuters she’s on the ropes:
I feel scared about my business. I don’t think it will work anymore.
She has no insurance.
The mob who cries for justice for Michael Brown doesn’t want any for the businesses, the City of Ferguson, or Officer Wilson.
Others are looking for divine justice. This church sits next to the Ferguson Market and Liquor where this horrible story started:
They’ll need all the prayer they can get. Especially if the mobs are shipped back to Ferguson.