Ferguson, Missouri Has Become An American War Zone, Here's What You Need To Know

by John Haltiwanger

At present, Ferguson, Missouri looks more like a war zone than an American town. Images of police in riot gear confronting peaceful protestors have sent shockwaves across the nation. The situation is dire.

Accordingly, the country is now facing some tough questions surrounding racism, police brutality, freedom of the press and the militarization of the people who are meant to protect common citizens.

This is what's happened so far...

On August 9, 2014, an 18-year-old named Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He was unarmed...

18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead 10 times in the street by police officers near St Louis Sat August 9,2014 — patrice douge (@pdouge) August 10, 2014

According to witnesses, Brown was attempting to surrender when police fired on him.

"Witnesses say Michael Brown, 18, had raised his hands to surrender when the shots were fired." - USA Today #RIPMikeBrown — Josh B. (@JbFromRichLyfe) August 12, 2014
Violent protests continue to rage in Missouri over the shooting death of Michael Brown. Teen fatally shot by police in a surrender position — Leslie Adlam (@IAmLeslieAdlam) August 14, 2014
If you want justice, throw your arms up. Because that's the sign #MichaelBrown was using. He had a surrender sign. — Theresa Anderson (@andersontheresa) August 13, 2014

Residents in Ferguson immediately began protesting, demanding justice for Brown.

Missouri town erupts in protest after police shoot unarmed black teenager. — ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) August 10, 2014
Shooting involving police leaves teen dead in Ferguson, Mo., authorities say. Up to 1,000 people protest, chief says. — CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 10, 2014
Protest continues in front of #ferguson police dept "the people united, will never be defeated" #FergusonShooting — Elizabeth Matthews (@ElizabethKSDK) August 10, 2014
Peaceful protest taking place outside the ferguson police station join us ... Hands up don't shoot !! — Tef Poe/FootKlan (@TefPoe) August 12, 2014

Although the protests began peacefully, the police responded aggressively.

"@AntonioFrench: Things are getting very tense in #Ferguson." Police dogs but everyone has their hands up in protest — Toni. (@twtane) August 10, 2014

For many, the images coming out of Ferguson are reminiscent of one of the most tumultuous periods in US history... It's hard to believe that it's 2014.

Jim Crow 2.0 #Ferguson #MichaelBrown — Deborah Bernat (@debbernat) August 11, 2014
Ferguson PD deploying dogs against a protest. Where have I seen this before? — Curtis Caulfield (@Slaughlin) August 10, 2014
#ferguson population 70 percent black, #ferguson police 95 percent white. 21st century Jim Crow, time for @CivilRights#MikeBrown — John Rudolf (@johnrudolf) August 14, 2014

The situation continued to escalate through the weekend and into the week... There were reports of looting, vandalism and violent clashes between residents and police.

Looting taking place in Ferguson, Missouri right now, @AntonioFrench reports — BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) August 11, 2014
Shooting of black teen in Missouri sparks violence and looting Photo: — (@TIME) August 11, 2014

The majority of people protesting have done so peacefully, however. Yet the police have continued to respond aggressively and antagonistically.

In Ferguson, MO, the line between law enforcement and combat blurred: (Curtis/NYTimes/Redux) — msnbc (@msnbc) August 14, 2014
holy... actual footage of #MikeBrown protest--totally peaceful but emotional. The media is LYING #racism — Laura Stone (@StoneyboBoney) August 10, 2014
#MikeBrown RT .@mflann: Is this necessary at a peaceful protest? #ferguson — Big Boi (@BigBoi) August 11, 2014
On a street in #Ferguson: Big wooden pellets & aftermath, weapons used against peaceful protesters — Anonymous (@occupythemob) August 13, 2014
Also, what's going on in #Ferguson is clearly not rioting. One night involved looting by a few, but protests now are peaceful. — Laura Seay (@texasinafrica) August 14, 2014
Heavily militarised police confront peaceful protesters and arrest two reporters. A night in Ferguson by @jonswaine — Matt Wells (@MatthewWells) August 14, 2014

As the situation worsened, the FAA shut down the airspace over Ferguson.

#FAA restricts airspace over #Ferguson. I assume Bloomberg will fly over in his jet in protest ASAP #MichaelBrown — Thrillhouse Fuentes (@Activationist) August 12, 2014

The police have yet to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting.

#Ferguson police refuse to name black teen's killer after laying siege to city: — Neon Tommy (@neontommy) August 12, 2014
#Ferguson should release the name of the cop who shot #MichaelBrown. Would police hold the name of a civilian shooter? DOJ should take over. — Candice Questions (@CandiceBernd) August 12, 2014

The online hacking group, Anonymous, eventually got involved.

#BREAKING: The international hacker group Anonymous has joined the #Ferguson protest — Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 11, 2014
Anonymous threatens to name Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown — Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) August 13, 2014

On August 14, Anonymous released the name of the shooter, but it is still speculative...

Prison Break: Bryan Willman; Police Officer Shot & Killed Mike Brown Revealed — Dead Omen Society (@DDotOmen) August 14, 2014
St. Louis County PD says the name of alleged #Ferguson cop released by hactivist group Anonymous is false. — Skip LaCombe (@skiplacombe) August 14, 2014

It is hard to believe anything that the Ferguson police say, however, because there is evidence that they have actively sought to intimidate and silence the media. Some members of the press have even been arrested and assaulted.

RT @AntonioFrench: #Ferguson mayor tells media that anyone who shows up to the rally this morning "will be arrested". — Blogs of War (@BlogsofWar) August 11, 2014 Smart take from @poniewozik: It’s now guns vs. cameras in Ferguson — Callie Schweitzer (@cschweitz) August 14, 2014
A line of police cars with high beams on greats anyone trying to enter #Ferguson. Its shut down. No media allowed. When police start ordering media away, and no one stops them, it's time to be scared. Freedom of the press is for our protection. #Ferguson — Jessica Blankenship (@blanketboat) August 12, 2014
In case you missed it. The police fired Teargas at journalist and then take the equipment. #Ferguson #mediablackout — Queen of Sheba (@QueenOfShebaN) August 14, 2014

Police have also arrested politicians involved in the protests...

St. Louis alderman @AntonioFrench arrested and charged with unlawful assembly #Ferguson — Matt Ford (@fordm) August 14, 2014

Police have even opened fire on peaceful protestors...

please share this video, this is what's happening in #Ferguson #mediablackout — jay (@basicallyturnt) August 14, 2014

What's worse, some believe that police deliberately killed a protestor and are actively attempting to cover it up.

wow. get ready for war. — (@cvbanlinks) August 14, 2014

Ferguson's police have been accused of racial profiling before. Ferguson is 67 percent African-American, but only 5.6 percent of the Ferguson police department is African-American...

County police (heavily involved here) had to get rid of a lieutenant this year for this — Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 14, 2014

Ferguson is not the only place in America where this is happening...

Unarmed Black man, Ezell Ford, murdered by police in Los Angeles Witnesses say LAPD shot and killed a man while he was laying on the ground — ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) August 14, 2014 — Freedom Archives (@freedomarchives) August 14, 2014
#EzellFord neighbors on #LAPD shooting: "they shot him in the back, knowing mentally, he has complications" — HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) August 14, 2014
Putting #Ferguson in broader context is important (Trayvon, Eric Garner, etc). The scenes/images are inconvertible cc: @rhodes44 @PressSec — Omar T. Woodard (@OmarWoodard) August 14, 2014
Weeks ago, Eric Garner was choked to death by NYPD. His murder was caught on tape. Why is this not a topic, anymore? — The Macho King (@Gritz718) August 14, 2014

The FBI is investigating the situation.

FBI launches investigation into fatal police shooting of unarmed Missouri teen Michael Brown — NBC News (@NBCNews) August 11, 2014

Politicians have also begun to speak out against the tactics police are utilizing...

This is America, not a war zone. The people of #Ferguson just want answers. We all want answers. — Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) August 14, 2014

American police are beginning to resemble an army, rather than people who are supposed to protect the public and keep the peace.

Reporters arrested in Ferguson | AP Photo — POLITICO (@politico) August 14, 2014
“@JHWeissmann: Since '06, police acquired some 432 MRAPs, 533 aircraft & 93,763 machine guns” — Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) August 14, 2014

It seems that the situation will only get worse, as more tragic images continue to surface...

This may be the saddest #Ferguson image yet (via @annehelen/@MotherJones) — Jared Keller (@jaredbkeller) August 14, 2014

Things have gotten so bad that the governor of Missouri has decided to remove St. Louis County Police from the area... Which means state and federal officials (FBI) will be moving in.

BREAKING: @GovJayNixon to announce removal of #STL cty police from #Ferguson; may call for #FBI & #DOJ involvement — Deborah N. Tornello (@litbrit) August 14, 2014
BREAKING: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to remove St. Louis County police from Ferguson — (@Salon) August 14, 2014

The protests are inspiring people around the nation to stand up for what they believe in...

Incredible photo: Howard University students standing with — Karεn Ciѵil (@KarenCivil) August 14, 2014

Top Photo Courtesy: Twitter