Passing along a couple of good blog posts. Neither could really stand on their own, but they make good reading and complement one another.
First up, a cop who worked the riots this past Sunday night/Monday morning, in what some said were the worst rioting to date.
It’s interesting to hear things from the cop’s perspective:
I arrived at the station that night at about 2040. I was on the road in a police car for maybe a minute and had traveled just outside of the parking lot, when I flipped on the scan function on my radio. Immediately, I heard, “Um… be advised, we’ve got several hundred… correction… several thousand demonstrators heading south on West Florissant toward the CP [Command Post].”
I turned around and went back to the station. After a quick conversation with the evening supervisor, I loaded my car with a riot shield and helmet. Then, I got back out on the road and drove less than thirty feet when my radio started broadcasting the sounds of fighting and screaming. Officers who were either in the process of keying up their radios to report what was going on were getting into fights mid-transmission. Other officers were accidentally keying up their radios while fighting with other people. County dispatch immediately cut in and said in one of the most frantic transmissions I’ve ever heard, “First and second precinct all units respond at once, J1. Expedite. They’re about to overrun the CP.” The dispatcher was so beside herself that she forgot to put out the code. It didn’t matter though. The message was received.
I started that way running lights and siren, weaving through cars on the interstate. Finally, I reached the CP. Passing through the last checkpoint into the parking lot my nose and eyes started to burn. It suddenly became clear to me just how close the rioters had come that I was smelling CS gas (teargas) from this distance and within my car.
Incident Command had been moved inside one of the buildings in the strip mall. I was the first municipal officer on scene after the all-call. I knew the next two officers from another neighboring municipality who came in, Tom and Victor. Tom, Victor, and I were put in a group while a fourth member from another Muni was added as well once he arrived. Immediately, we were sent to the frontline. I wasn’t confident how close we would actually be able to get without gas masks and County Command was out of gas masks.
Nevertheless, the sounds of struggling and yelling into the radio only intensified. I jumped in the car with my team and we headed to what was quickly elevating from a riot to a battle. Shots were being fired by the rioters. People were down. Tear gas was being deployed. For the first time, it seemed like instead of a series of randomized but widespread events, we had a central consolidated force attacking us.
Cops have a stereotypical way of yelling commands. It’s sort of a high pitched, low register, atonal noise, the type you might here from a drill sergeant. It is also very easy to tell from changes in the pitch when a cop is scared or in trouble. I hope I never hear officers in that much trouble ever again.
And just in case you think all of St. Louis has been crippled by violence, another great blog in how life goes on as normal outside of Ferguson.
I followed a trail of blood up the concrete steps as Deja vu overtook my thoughts.
I’d been here before, just a few short months ago, doing the same exact thing, following a trail of blood to an open front door.
As was the case then, on this night there had been another call for shots fired heard coming from the street.
A trail of blood, an open door and no body to be found.
Just like last time, the person was taken to the hospital by a friend, so we wait to hear from the hospital when they make their mandatory call about somebody coming into the emergency room with bullets in their body.
As I was checking the house for another injured or dead person, I couldn’t help but notice that the house was exactly as it had been before.
There was no furniture in the living room and there was trash all over the place. Paper plates with leftover food and cigarette butts littered the kitchen counter. The upstairs was where the televisions and furniture were kept. When you live in fear of drive by shootings, upstairs is the safer place to spend most of your time.
As I was leaving the kitchen, my eyes were drawn to the floor by a cockroach scurrying over a button, the kind that you can pin to your shirt to announce things like, “I voted” or “I gave blood!”
This button had a picture of Michael Brown on it and the words “Justice for Mike Brown” or some similar message around the photo.
There was something queer about the button being on this particular kitchen floor on this particular night, surrounded by roaches and drops of blood and dog shit as well.
There’s more. It’s well worth the read and will help restore your faith in humanity.