The police are caught in a bind and are seeing the limits of using force. If they keep their distance protesters riot, but when they come with force they inspire more people to come into the streets, which lead to more riots. At this point, if they want to crush this thing they have to convict Darren Wilson (the cop who shot Brown) of murder. But the wheels of justice are slow. In the meantime, they’re going to have to work to divide the protesters. In their desperation, all of the time-tested dichotomies are being deployed- protester vs criminal, honest vs opportunist, resident vs outsider. Unfortunately the police have a long list of accomplices willing to do the work for them, most of whom are fully aware of what they’re doing. From the New Black Panther Party to the Nation of Islam. From HOT 104.1 to FOX News. From MORE to OBS. From Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton. From Nelly to Tef Poe (Po). From current St Louis Mayor Slay to future St Louis Mayor French. And the list goes on.
While they may be succeeding on TV, radio, and social media these loudmouths aren’t having as much success on West Florissant (despite their own reports to the contrary), and that must scare the shit out of them. It’s worth mentioning that social media is where they have had the most success. They’ve become pros at getting twits who will never go down to Ferguson to retweet their fewer than 140 character self-serving reports ad nauseam. In return the twits get to feel as if they’re a part of something. Maybe these rumors, half-truths and lies will prove to be damaging to people, (and that would be terrible) but most of it is transparently conspiracy theory bullshit to anyone with critical thinking skills.
There are still far more black protesters than white on West Florissant, but there seems to be more diversity as the struggle continues. Early on comments directed at white protesters such as “why’re you here” were answered with “man, she/he hates the police too!” Now if the presence of white protesters is even noted it sounds more like “thank you for being here.” A sinister few liberal and leftist groups try to spread absurd stories that small groups of white agitators (or even KKK infiltrators!) are tricking black protesters into going on the attack. The racist underlying assumptions about the exploitable nature of black protesters makes sense when you realize that’s exactly how groups like the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party view them. Back in the real world, white protesters are just now starting to catch up with some of the ferocity of their black comrades, who’re grown enough to make decisions for themselves.
The authorities engaged in some good cop/bad cop by putting Ron Johnson (a black officer who grew up in North County) in command of police operations. During the light of day, he and his officers take off their riot gear and walk alongside protesters. This trick has worked on the self-imposed protest leaders who openly work with Johnson to control the crowds.
There are countless calls from the Nation of Islam, the New Black Panther Party, and their socially conservative ilk for women to go home, for strong black men to step up, and other such patriarchal attempts divide the protesters. The first couple days these calls were met with tremendous resistance from mostly black women. “Fuck you, go back to church”. “I’ve been here from day one”. “It’s our babies who’re dying”. The constant harassment seems to have taken its toll as fewer women are out, especially after dark. But women are still out front taunting the police and rushing into stores to get theirs.
Nearly all who attempt to restrain the actions of the most confrontational and declare themselves leaders of the community are over 40. Aside from physically stopping young people from acting, they try to ostracize them from the protest. These wise elders may walk around with a paternalistic aura of authority, but the youth aren’t fooled: “I can’t listen to these old heads, been sayin’ the same thing for years.” “This peaceful marching ain’t workin’, without the looting nobody would’ve gave a shit about Mike Mike.” Still they continuously call for the boys to grow up and be men and for the young women to go home, because the streets aren’t safe for them.”