Ferguson, Mo. — The protests in Ferguson started off not somber or angry on Friday night, but instead celebratory. Then, as the night wore on, the protests grew violent and looters ransacked local stores.
Michael Powers, a man designing and passing out signs at the protest tells National Review Online he thought the mood had changed since earlier in the week, when he had been arrested. “It’s turned into a impromptu street festival with a parade, we got music, we got food,” he says. “It’s awesome. It’s night and day.”
Protestors gathered at a QuikTrip convenience store and gas station that was destroyed by looters earlier in the week to dance, chant, and listen to music.
In the street, people sat, stood, and hung out the windows of moving cars shouting and waving.
Entrepreneurial protesters hawked merchandise and shirts that read “Stop Killing Us,” and some people walked up and down the street passing out sandwiches.
Protesters wandered through the streets drinking and smoking without fear of retribution from the cops. Missouri State Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson tells NRO that he, St. Louis County Police chief Jon Belmar, and other police had decided to stay away from the center of Friday night’s protest on West Florissant Street — near the destroyed QuikTrip — because the situation appeared stable and he didn’t want people to think something had gone wrong. Johnson and Belmar were stationed with police at the Ferguson Market and Liquor store parking lot.
As the night turned to morning, looters approached the market, and police reportedly were ordered to “stand down” and allowed looters to take over the liquor store, St. Louis County Police told Fox 2 in St. Louis. Looters set fire to a Domino’s Pizza, hit the liquor store, and broke through a beauty store. Much of the looting took place after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, and storeowners told CNN they were frustrated that police did not intervene. This video from Elite Daily shows how an altercation with police began before sunrise on Saturday:
Some people appear to be trying to clean up in the aftermath of the protests amid heavy rain on Saturday morning, but the events of last night suggest Ferguson has a long way to go before peace and order are restored.
“In the future, when something like this happens again, and I didn’t say, if I said when, because it will happen again,” protester Adrian West tells NRO, “Him [pointing to another African-American man] or myself could be dead before the weekend’s over for the same reason and that’s been going on in Ferguson for a long time.”
— Ryan Lovelace is a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow at the National Review Institute.