Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri have stood firm in their protests against excessive force and a pattern of harrassment by local police officers. (Photo: via Twitpic)

Ten Facts About Police Violence in Ferguson Sunday Night

Bill Quigley

While the Governor of Missouri is sending in the National Guard to Ferguson, it is worth considering where the real violence is coming from.

One.  Hours before the 12pm Sunday night curfew went into effect, peaceful nonviolent protestors were legally marching in Ferguson.  Then without warning the police turned on the marchers.  Purvi Shah, a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, was marching with hundreds of others and reported just after 10 pm:  “Just got tear gassed.  Eyes burning.  No warnings.  People running with someone in wheelchair. This is lawlessness.  Police fired on peaceful protestors.” 

Two.  The police tear gas canisters hit an eight year old child walking with his mother according to Yahoo.

Three.  Two reporters were arrested at about 10pm Sunday night.  

Four. Reporters in the peaceful march also got a taste of tear gas

Five.  Police threatened to shoot another journalist in the face because the police thought his camera light was on. Christopher Hayes with MSNBC was told to “get back! Or next time you’re going to be the one maced.”

Six.  There is a serious case to be made that the police got jittery and overreacted thus causing the very violence they decry.  The police initially said they had to take action because there were gunshots, but reporters indicate that there were fireworks which were confused as gunshots.  The police later retracted the earlier report of gunshots.  The police also reported people were throwing Molotov cocktails at police but no one ever saw any and many reports show only protestors throwing back the tear gas canisters which were fired at them by police.

Seven.  The reasons for the protests we see in Ferguson is as American as apple pie.  Almost 50 years ago, the 1968 Kerner Report on protests, rebellions and riots declared: “police are not merely a “spark” factor. To some Negroes police have come to symbolize white power, white racism and white repression. And the fact is that many police do reflect and express these white attitudes. The atmosphere of hostility and cynicism is reinforced by a widespread belief among Negroes in the existence of police brutality and in a “double standard” of justice and protection—one for Negroes and one for whites.”

Eight.  Sending in the National Guard will never solve this.  The USA cannot police our way to the end of the Ferguson problems.  The same 1968 Kerner identified 6 deeply held grievances of the communities where conflict broke out: police practices, unemployment and underemployment, inadequate housing, inadequate education, poor recreation facilities and programs, ineffectiveness of the political structure and grievance mechanisms.  These demand justice, not the National Guard.

Nine.  The problems shown to the nation by the Ferguson community contain their own solutions.  “When all else fails to organize people, conditions will.”  Marcus Garvey

Ten.  Police violence and National Guard guns and might will never beat the people.  As Purvi Shah, after being tear gassed, tweeted: “To the police: you just organized a bunch of freedom fighters. Thanks.”


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Broken' Capitalist Food System Drives Soaring Global Hunger: Oxfam

Criticism from the charity's food policy director came in response to a new United Nations report revealing that around 1 in 10 people worldwide went hungry last year.

Brett Wilkins ·


With Manchin's Backing, Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

"This compromise will lower prices, cut costs, and stop the drug corporations from raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation," said Margarida Jorge of Lower Drug Prices Now.

Jake Johnson ·


'Fight for Us Goddamnit': Frustration Grows Over Biden Fecklessness Amid GOP Destruction

"We simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


EPA Likely Underestimating Amount of Toxic Forever Chemicals in US Water: Analysis

"The EPA is doing the bare minimum it can and that's putting people's health at risk," said the policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo