August 16, 2014

Earlier Friday evening, protests had been peaceful and relatively calm. But as midnight approached, SWAT teams appeared and the mood changed. It began with police ordering protesters and press out of the street, instructing them to return to their cars and leave, or to go home.

Protesters who were interviewed expected all of the media focus to be on the looting and not the unexpected SWAT presence at the scene of the protest. They were angry about that, in various conversations they had with reporters.

Like clockwork, CNN emphasized the looting, assuming it was protesters. In fact, protesters were the ones guarding the stores and chasing looters away.

In one short interview, a protester standing in front of the store's entrance said "The police don't care about us. Why should we have to do their job when they're standing right there?"

Why, indeed.

In a poignant moment, one of the young men helping to guard the store had an Al Jazeera reporter talk to his mother on his phone. She was crying over the possibility of her son being killed for guarding -- not looting -- that store.

Here's what that looked like:

It's rumored that Missouri Highway Patrol commander Ron Johnson was not told about SWAT teams being called in. If so, that smells like a serious turf war brewing on the streets of Ferguson.

Ryan J. Reilly's tweets from the scene:

CNN reporter's tweets:

And this sums it up fairly well:

Rumors are flying everywhere about professional agitators, police turf wars, and other catalysts for tonight's unrest. But when I watched the people of Ferguson -- the protesters -- speak tonight, all I saw was pain and frustration. One young man summed it up well when he said "My grandparents protested this. We shouldn't have to."

Yet here we are. There is a vigil planned to take place in front of the police station later today. Protesters are planning to raise their hands in silent unison.

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