Daylight's uncovered a shocking, even haunting, view of the damage left behind after riots and looting broke out in the City of Ferguson. This small city's definitely suffered a lot in the hours since the public announcement of the Grand Jury's decision against indicting Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown.
Along W. Florissant Avenue, members of the National Guard are now standing outside businesses and police have blocked off a portion of the road where dozens of businesses were looted or burned down. Some neighbors say that presence now is a bit too late.
Police officers are diverting traffic and will only allow business owners and workers limited access to their now-damaged buildings.
At one salon, the entire staff showed up to clean up the shattered glass from windows and doors unknown looters used a Molotov cocktail to break. Some tiles and furniture in the shop were damaged by fire. Workers shake their heads as they sweep every bit of debris, wondering why this shop was a target.
They aren't the only business cleaning up. Vandals damaged more than two dozen stores across Ferguson, in a matter of a few hours.
When the dust settles and insurance money start rolling in (for those who had insurance), business will decide how to move on. The harsh reality, for some of these neighbors, moving on could mean moving out of Ferguson.
The businesses gutted or damged by fire... it all amounts to some hard working individuals' dreams destroyed overnight. A community already struggling with unemployment and poor economy, is left with even more jobs lost, reduced access to resources, and fewer services to help neighbors.
Demonstrations in and around Ferguson continue. However, folks are beginning to discuss and understand the differences between civil disobedience and criminal behavior. Some people have been using social media sites to encourage groups to storm certain businesses and/or "shut them down." We were dispatched to an area called Brentwood early Wednesday morning, and witnessed police detain a group of young people, so-called protesters, who were allegedly unlawfully assembled outside of a Quick Trip convenience store. One of the arrested women told me she was riding with six others. She claims they were peacefully protesting. As she was lead into the patrol car, the woman said, "It's all good. It's expected. It's just part of the program."
During an editorial meeting, one of my colleagues questioned why are people still protesting now that the Grand Jury's decision's announced. I reminded the group, just because the GJ vote is out, that doesn't negate the fact there are some individuals in and around the Ferguson community who want to speak out. The Ferguson or Wilson/Brown case has uncovered a lot of issues that have gone unspoken in this area for a long time. Citizens are forcing dialogue about race, class, economy, police and community relations, and equal access to services among other things.
What rattles many, however, are the tactics some individuals are taking to get their points across. Rioting can't be reason, can it?. Looting surely can't become a livelihood, right? Burning vehicles and stores shouldn't become regular business in this community, you think?
As an observer, it's obvious so many people in Ferguson are hurting. However, it hurts to see how so many young people in Ferguson semingly fail to realize how their actions, right now, are wounding their community.
I'll be thinking of Ferguson, and in coming weeks hope to write about how the community's bouncing back.