A nearly all-white protest in Saint Louis supporting Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who gunned down Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, drew about 150 people this afternoon. The protest was held in front of the city's NBC affiliate (KSDK), with the throngs upset by a perceived media bias and for the network's showing up at Wilson's residence once it finally became known that he was Brown's killer.
The large gathering, held before a major media outlet in downtown Saint Louis and just up the road from Busch Stadium, where the Saint Louis Cardinals played an afternoon game, should have elicited a large police response. After all, downtown was bustling today with commerce, and while protesters descended upon a major media center with peaceful intentions, everyone knows what happens when large groups of unarmed, disaffected demonstrators gather together.
Protesters gather downtown Saint Louis to support Mike Brown's killer, Darren Wilson. Image via Jon Swaine.
Of course, curiously, if not predictably, the police response at this protest consisted of merely 11 bored officers, five of whom lounged on bicycles, including this serious fellow on the left, captured by The Guardian's Jon Swaine.
Perhaps the city's officers declined potential backup – warrior cops wearing riot gear, gripping assault rifles and riding armored carriers – because protesters were selling t-shirts (which sold out) bearing a badge with the words, "Officer Darren Wilson – I stand by you."
If only unarmed, peaceful protesters in Ferguson had thought to sell t-shirts supporting the local police force, they might not have been greeted like this:
In all seriousness, the power of Ferguson is that it has become the confluence of two powerful streams: the long-standing, systemic racism that exists in policing and the militarization of police forces in America.
Police shoot tear gas in Ferguson, via Robert Cohen.
Those two are meeting in Ferguson, highlighting the dire consequences of both. As is the contrast in policing at events such as today.
An event in which white Americans gathered to support the man who gunned down a black teenager.
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, recently published by Oneworld Publications.