#VIBEInFerguson: A Real-Time Blog


/ August 16, 2014

Protesting and uproar in Ferguson, MO has rocked headlines and social media timelines this week. As residents seek justice following the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown, VIBE made its way to the the St. Louis suburb for a firsthand account of the environment. Reporter Aliya S. King (@aliyasking) gave a live blog account on her time in Ferguson as she witnessed protests, spoke with officials and assessed the unrest. Get a peek inside of her and photographer Antonio Thompson’s (@antoniothewiser) experience below:

8:00 PM: I don’t like how things are changing out here. As soon as the sun went down, the rallies and protests took a definitive turn. Antonio and I walked down the main drag and we saw kids singing and dancing. I thought they were singing F Tha Police by NWA but it turns out they’re actually singing a similar song by Lil Boosie. Lyrics: Fuck the police/Fuck the police/Without that badge/You a bitch and a half nigga They’re laughing and singing but I can see it’s going somewhere else—soon. 8:45 PM: I interviewed State Senator Jamilah Nasheed. I asked her about the crowds and if she’s worried about what might happen. She said the kids were celebrating their freedom to assemble. Which sounds good. But that’s not what’s happening. I think because the Ferguson police have been removed, they’re celebrating the fact that the police presence here is more hands-off. And quite frankly, some of the younger folks out here are taking advantage of that. The smell of weed and alcohol is thick in the air. And that’s changing this from a protest vigil to a party-like atmosphere. 10:00 PM: I’m back in the rental car now. I have to charge my phone and laptop. Antonio went back out into the crowd to shoot more footage. I’m around the corner from all the action but I can clearly hear the chants. Earlier in the day, a group of young men walked past us with Bibles in their hands chanting: Bibles Up/Don’t Shoot! There are definitely no Bible-holding teens out here right now. The chants are angrier and more raucous. What’s weird is that all of this is taking place just a block away from where Michael Brown was actually killed. But that area is empty and quiet. 10:10 PM: I just heard what sounded like a gunshot. I’m texting Antonio and telling him it’s time to go. 10:40PM: Antonio and I are trying to figure out how to get back to our hotel without driving through the crowds. We figure out a back route to the highway. The first thing we both notice—as soon as we are a block away from the crowds, its peaceful and quiet. I see a man sitting inside his garage nursing a beer and talking to friend. We can literally hear crickets and wildlife. The further we drive, the protests area sounds like a far-away concert.

11:45PM: While Antonio and I are looking at all of our footage of the day, we keep thinking about how things changed so drastically last night. And if I’m honest with myself, I have to say that the kids we saw last night were not simply out there to protest Michael Brown’s death. I’m not saying they don’t deal with issues here. I’m saying this particular situation is becoming an opportunity for them more than an actual cause. 8:30 AM: So, as I suspected, things escalated last night after we left. There was looting. There are rumors that small amounts of tear gas were used to disperse the crowds. There were officers in riot gear on hand but they didn’t move. And the crowds eventually began to disperse around 4 in the morning. 11: 06 AM: I’m watching CNN in the lobby of the hotel. And I notice that the footage from yesterday supports what I was thinking last night. All the footage taken during the day? Older folks, professional people, parents, politicians and community leaders talking about the death of Michael Brown and the search for answers. But last night? A completely different crowd and a completely different atmosphere. On CNN, a friend of the officer who killed Michael Brown is on CNN right now and he says: “Without even speaking to him, I’m certain he was 100% scared for his life in that moment. He’s the last person on earth you would think he could do something like that.”