Look no further than this poll to understand why Ferguson protesters were regarded as "thugs" but Tea Partyers were just Americans exercising their First Amendment right.
The public generally agrees that when Americans speak up and protest unfair treatment by the government, it makes the country better. Sixty-three percent of the public say that protesting unfair government treatment is always a good thing for the country, while less than one-third (32%) disagree. However, Americans are somewhat less likely to see the benefits of protests among black Americans. A majority (54%) of the public agree that the country is always better off when black Americans protest and speak out against unfair treatment by the government, while roughly four in ten (39%) disagree.
As you might expect, the greatest disparity comes from white Americans.
There is an even larger gap on these two questions among white Americans. Two-thirds (67%) of white Americans agree that Americans protesting government mistreatment always leave the country better off. But fewer than half (48%) of whites say the same when asked about black Americans speaking out against and protesting unfair treatment by the government.
So protests are always good for America until black people protest, and then they're not. What the hell, America?