FERGUSON, Missouri—-The Ferguson Police Department is reporting that six protesters were arrested late Wednesday night when demonstrators and law enforcement faced off in front of the police department.
Protesters gather at the South Florissant Road site located next to the town’s fire department and often taunt the police since one of their own, Officer Darren Wilson, fatally shot 18-year-old Mike Brown on August 9. The St. Louis County grand jury is expected to release its decision any day now as to whether or not Wilson should be indicted.
The arrests occurred when demonstrators refused to get out of the middle of the street after repeated warnings by police, who moved in and began to make arrests.
Relations between protesters and St. Louis police remain intense since the deadly shooting that triggered aggressive confrontations between police and protesters went on for ten days following the incident.
Gabe Crocker, President of the St. Louis County Police Association, told St. Louis radio host Larry Connors on KTRS on Tuesday he believes the St. Louis County Chief of Police, schools, and businesses will be given at least a 12 to 24 hour window before the grand jury releases it’s verdict. Crocker said:
It’s my understanding that our police chief and other dignitaries are going to get some advance notice and that’s going to allow the unified command to begin their response and to put their response mechanisms in place. It’s also going to give some schools and businesses that amount of time. But there’s a double edge to that sword. No matter what the verdict is, that is also going to give other people time to prepare whatever their strategies may be, so there’s a danger. What’s too soon? What’s too early? That’s all a matter of opinion and that’s what they’re trying to work out and they probably worked that out.”
Crocker then added, “They’re going to say, ‘There has been a decision.’ Again, we’re hypothetical here at this point. ‘They’re has been a decision made and this is when we’re going to announce it.’ And I have it in my head as a 12 to 24 hour type of situation. I certainly don’t think you’re going to see 72 hours notice while these people are caravanning in from all over the United States for those protests and whatever may occur. So I absolutely think you’re going to see something in the 12 to 24 hour. And there’s a lot of considerations to be said with that–not the least of them being tactical considerations.”
Crocker takes umbrage to the idea that Missouri’s law enforcement were “militarized” back in August during confrontations with protesters telling Connors that officers must wear riot gear to protect themselves from harm.
“I’m not so concerned with those militarization comments. I absolutely hate that term, because I think it unfairly characterizes protective equipment that police officers are wearing. Granted, there is a government program that puts old or unused military equipment like an MRAP into civilian law enforcement hands,” he said.
“That wasn’t the case here. There was so much false information here, I was really embarrassed for some of the media people that were reporting information and all we were saying was, ‘Why don’t you just ask us? Stop speculating.'”
He explained, “There’s no military equipment out there and riot gear and riot shields. The things that are designed to protect officers are not militarized equipment. I can pull up pictures on Google of riot police in 1950 that are wearing the exact same riot gear that we were wearing. No fashion designer came along and said, ‘Let me find out a way to make this more appeasing to the public eye.’ No, that’s to protect police officers. These officers are on the front line of these protests protecting peaceful protesters and being pelted by rocks and bottles. I’m so passionate about this, because the thing that really upsets me the most is how many wonderful interactions we’ve had with peaceful protesters in Ferguson.”
However, 20-year old Rasheen Lamont Aldridge, an appointee of the 16 member Ferguson Commission that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently established does not buy it.
“No. It’s used to intimidate folks. It’s not for protection. What do they need to be protected from? Nobody is messing with them. This is peaceful. This has been peaceful,” he told Breitbart News. “This is an intimidation thing that they’re trying to use against us and it doesn’t make sense and they don’t need to have it here with people just trying to assert their right to peacefully protest.”
Aldridge says he expects there will be no violence from the “peaceful protesters” after the grand jury releases its decision.
“They’re not violent. They haven’t been violent and they will continue not to be violent, but at the end of the day there will be outside agitators who will come in and make the situation worse.”
Crocker recalled how those days in August felt for St. Louis County Police Officers telling Connors:
“Every night around 10 or 10:30 here comes the bottles and the rocks and the urine and all these horrible things and we would start lobbing smoke bombs and thing to try and dispel these crowds and those were the pictures that were captured and the media would fail to mention that for 45 to 90 minutes of verbal and audible warnings and sirens and smoke bombs and loud noises we’d put out there, 80 percent of the crowd left.”
In the meantime, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has conceded to a number of demands put forth by the protester advocate group known as the “Don’t Shoot Coalition.” Additionally, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has activated the National Guard to be on call during a 30 day national emergency declaration. The guard, however, according to Slay will not be on the front line engaging protesters.