Nixon Steps in to Rein in Warrior Cops

(Now there’s a headline that would have sounded weird 40 years ago.)

Here’s what’s happening:

FERGUSON, Mo. — Suddenly, everything has changed.

The heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts, the hostile glares: tonight in Ferguson they were gone.

A stunning change in tone radiated through the suburban streets where protests had turned violent each of the last four evenings following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

But Thursday night, when more than a thousand protesters descended on the remains of QuickTrip – which was burned during riots on Sunday – they had a new leader.

The man at the front of the march, was Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, a Ferguson native.

“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd,” Johnson declared to reporters.

Johnson, a towering African American man who wiped sweat from his brow as he pointed out neighborhood hangouts and restaurants he used to frequent, was put in charge of crowd control earlier in the day, replacing the St. Louis County police who had been overseeing the police response to the protests.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced Thursday afternoon that Johnson would take over security, and vowed that officers would take a different approach to handling the massive crowds that have taken to Ferguson’s streets each night.

Not only did Johnson march with the protesters, but he vowed to not blockade the street, to set up a media staging center, and to ensure that residents’ rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon. Officers working crowd control, he said, have been told they must take off their gas masks.

Curiously, the animalistic mob bent on mindless pillage, upon whom the entire blame for the disturbance rests, with whom it is useless to reason, and who only understand violence, have not met this pantywaist change in tone with violence, but with reason and appreciation:

“Thank you so much for being here,” said Karen Wood, who fought back tears as she held both of Johnson’s hands imploring him to bring answers to residents and maintain calm in the streets.

“This is about human rights, about human beings,” she cried. “It takes cooperation…our youth are out here without guidance, without leadership.”

Moments later, as he rallied the crowd and demanded justice and information about the shooting, the man with the megaphone declared:

“They respect us,” referring to police. “ So let’s respect them. They’ve given us the sidewalk so lets stay out of their street.”

It’s as though people behave like human beings when you treat them like human beings, and like angry subject peoples when you treat them like animals.  Who knew?

Anyway, really, really good to see.  An answer to prayer.  God be praised through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Next:  A really cold hard look at the militarization of our police and a rollback of the stupid policies and training that created (and will create more of) this kind of Iron Curtain treatment of citizens as enemy combatants.  Somebody in the state needs to be severely punished for this.

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  • Shizuppy

    Great article, thanks.

  • Dave G.

    Good to see, before anyone got hurt. Clearly the Ferguson police department was in over its head. I don’t think anyone denies that. It is worth noting, however, that the violence erupted the first night before any of the police department’s now much criticized reaction. So it isn’t as if it was all a result of the police response. It seems to have been an escalation in which both the violent protesters and the police department deserve their fair share of the blame. At least it looks like chances for harm across the board have been minimized.

    • capaxdei

      The violence erupted on Sunday night after a great deal of the police department’s now much criticized reaction. Starting with the shooting of an unarmed citizen by an unnamed policeman in broad daylight Saturday afternoon. The stonewalling, the defensiveness, the dogs, the hamfisted mishandling of pretty much every aspect of the response to the shooting and the protests: that all happened before the looting began.

      For that matter, Saturday afternoon doesn’t get you to Sunday morning, much less Sunday evening, without a whole lot of backstory.

      The commandos, the rifles trained on protesters, the “Bring it, you fucking animals,” that was all an outrageous over-response after the looting started. But the outrageous over-response by the police, though in no way a justification for, absolutely was a precursor to the violence on Sunday night.

      • Dave G.

        So you’re saying that because of the initial shooting all subsequent reactions by those not on the police force were understandable? How interesting.

        • capaxdei

          I’m saying that your claim “that the violence erupted the first night before any of the police department’s now much criticized reaction” is false.
          And your choice of “understandable” as the word to stuff into my mouth is puzzling. Do you not find all subsequent reactions by those not on the police force understandable?

          • Dave G.

            I’m saying the police department’s overreacting which added fuel to the fire did not cause the initial violence. That broke out at a candlelight vigil. The initial killing deserved reaction. But not the violence. Hence those who rioted and looted were wrong on their own. Which seems common consensus. You appeared to disagree.

            • capaxdei

              Do you understand that “the police department’s overreacting which added fuel to the fire” started on Saturday afternoon?

              • Dave G.

                That was the initial event. The outrage and vigil that followed were results. The nighttime violence, vandalism and especially looting were not. From there the escalation quickly spiraled.

                • Peggy

                  Because you are all here in StL and read/heard the local news reports from Saturday on?

                  Sunday night after things became tense and violent, several police reinforcements from the county and neighboring communities were called in. The militarization, which I am not endorsing, was a response to Sunday’s rampage.

                  Local news report from Sunday night.


                  I watched coverage Sunday night. The police were in regular uniforms patrolling an intersection near the “epicenter” of activity that night. Stores were looted and burned down. Some business owners guarded their property from the looters that night. There was no riot gear or militarization Sunday night.

                  Several agitators have arrived in the area as well, notably the New Black Panthers. They’ve threatened violence in recent days. I am happy to see the de-militarizing And if bringing in a black man whom the black people trust helps, fine. Every one is capable of racism.

                  Today the name of the officer involved was released. I hope he and his family are not harmed. The officer was responding to an armed robbery report and was hospitalized after the scuffle with Brown.

                  • Dave G.

                    I only have national news or online papers from the area to go by. But I don’t think I disagree with your more detailed at the scene account. Most of what I’ve read isn’t far off.

                    • Peggy

                      The TV and radio stations have online sites often with video clips.

                      And by the way, a local longtime reporter now radio host (who also worked for archdiocese for a time) reports that McD’s mgmt called cops to remove all loiterers including reporters who were hanging all day using the free WiFi at McDs and taking up space. I have not come across that elsewhere.

            • chezami

              While you are busy still laboring to excuse and defend this Iron Curtain thuggery, the highway patrol is already busy issuing apologies for this Iron Curtain thuggery. Try to keep up.

              • Dave G.

                You stopped reading whole comments some time back apparently. I just don’t divide the world neatly between the cause and the vile. Which reports in this case suggest is the more balanced approach. That is: the police were past the mark but that doesn’t excuse the violence and looting. Pretty simple stuff.

    • chezami


      • Dave G.


        • chezami

          Capax has already told you repeatedly.

          • Dave G.

            But his accounts aren’t matching what I’m reading and seeing on the news. Nor is it in line with Peggy who seems closer to the scene than I am. The points being 1 glad things are calming down 2 cops overreaction was wrong and 3 nothing justifies looting and terrorizing innocent citizens which occurred before the ” militarization. That seems the general consensus.

            • Peggy

              Facts, schmacts. What do they matter? My lyin’ eyes seeing live TV coverage–poo on that. Gotta have the narrative.

              • Peggy

                P. S. Dave G. Thanks for actually reading the local coverage before Monday when it became national news.

                General event timeline:
                1. Sat afternoon: shooting. Details still unclear and disturbing. Some demonstrations I think.
                2. Sun am presser
                3. Sun afternoon vigils
                4. Sun night looting and riots. Police still in primary uniforms with automobiles on hand. (reportedly several were destroyed…?) Initial call for county support probably after midnight. Regular vehicles and uniforms used. I did not see any armored vehicles that night.
                5. Monday StL County riot gear and military vehicles on display. More rioting and violence…til Thurs night….

                • Peggy

                  I know I should give up, but it occurs to me, judging from photos and what I’ve seen on TV, etc. the militarized vehicles and equipment were the property used under the authority of the County police, not the City of Ferguson. (DoD info may confirm that counties get this stuff, not small towns.) But, yes Ferg asked for help when chaos reigned Sunday night. In fact, I thought I heard some criticism for allowing the looting and fires to go on unchecked largely. (Well, what could they do, I guess?)

                  • capaxdei

                    I repeat: The stonewalling, the defensiveness, the dogs, the hamfisted mishandling of pretty much every aspect of the response to the shooting and the protests: that all happened before the looting began.

                    • Dave G.

                      So what you continue to suggest is that the looting, the terrorizing citizens (CNN interviewed people living nearby who were scared to death, not just of the armed police, but of the rioters), the assaults and gunfire were all what? Justified? Understandable? The police aren’t handling this the way I think they should, let me riot and destroy property and steal? You see, some of us are saying that the cops did in fact overreact and that the police have mishandled this based on what we know. But we’re also saying that those who seem to look for excuses, including exploiting murdered teenagers, to riot and loot and assault, are no less to blame. To me, this seems so easy to accept. Why it isn’t is beyond me.

                    • capaxdei

                      What have I said about the looting, the terrorized citizens, the assaults and gunfire other that they started after a great deal of the police department’s now much criticized reaction?

                      Oh, I guess I also said that the police department’s reaction is “in no way a justification for…the violence on Sunday night.”

                      So when you respond “…were all what? Justified?”, that tells me you aren’t paying attention to what I’m actually writing.

                    • Dave G.

                      If you say the violence was in no way justified, it seems to be what we’re saying. Which is why I’m confused. All we’ve said is that the violence and looting was not justified, nor the result of anything the police did. It was its own wrong. Last night, even the protesters jumped on the looters. That’s what we’ve said. Police acted wrong. Good if things calm down. Riots and looting not the result of anything but wrong behavior that happened before the much criticized militarization of the police. Since we agree, there’s no reason to disagree.

                    • capaxdei

                      Can’t disagree with agreement.

                    • Peggy

                      Unless you are here and saw/heard local reports since Saturday, you don’t know crap.

      • Peggy

        You are wrong Mark S. I am here in StL. I posted a link to local Sunday coverage below. No riot gear. No militarization until Monday.

  • Andy

    So much of this could have been avoided – police statement: The officer in questions has been placed on desk duty. The reason he stopped the young people was…. We will release further details as soon as we have them. We recognize the frustrations and anger of the community and ask for your cooperation. We will be interviewing all witnesses immediately. Something like that acknowledges that there are concerns and that folks have a right to be upset. The delay in releasing any details smacks of a cover-up and then leads to more anger.

  • ivan_the_mad

    This is good news. Let us pray that both peace and justice are found quickly.

  • Beadgirl

    What a relief. I really hope this leads to a peaceful and just resolution.

  • Ken

    Loving this new guy. Seems to have a lot of wisdom and compassion. Funny how a little bit of Christian charity goes a long way. Continuing to pray for peace and justice here.

  • jeanvaljean24601

    Well, this IS the feast of the Assumption… I won’t say Mary interceded, I won’t say she didn’t.
    Perhaps sanity begins anew?

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Ronald S. Johnson for President. Character and courage shine through.

  • Andy

    How much could have been avoided by releasing this information earlier – I know that there would have been anger, but at least the it would have offered an explanation about the start of the event. I am not sure that it would have explained the end result, but it does go a ways towards removing the thought of a cover-up

    • Peggy

      Yes. It would have helped greatly. I think Sat afternoon people were already “crazy” with anger. There was a presser Sunday a/m. Don’t know why this info wasn’t posted then. Officer was hospitalized. Maybe his report was not ready and could not be revealed until he was in condition to prepare it. ??? I don’t know.

  • Peggy

    Mike Brown was a suspect in a local robbery (QT==Quick Trip convenience store). I wonder if that’s the same QT that was burned down Sunday night.

    The officer was following on the call. So, Brown was a suspect that the officer was trying to apprehend. Backup arrived soon after the shooting. Timeline is very short. Depending on how the scuffle occurred, it is possible that the officer was impaired and did not intend to kill but to shoot his leg to slow him down…? I really don’t know. The altercation itself remains a murky report.

    Information can be found at Gateway Pundit. Now, he’s pretty screechy right wing, but he has police documents posted and tweets from a black councilman confirming information released.

    • jroberts548

      Cops are only allowed to use deadly force to apprehend a suspect under certain circumstances. There has to be probable cause of a serious violent felony, the suspect has to be a threat to the officer or others, and the suspect can’t be unarmed and nondangerous.

      Even if the allegations against Brown are true (which I doubt, because why would they wait almost a week to release it and why have they still not arrested the other suspect? This is either a manufactured red herring, and/or we’re talking about the dumbest, least competent police department in the nation), it doesn’t matter. He pushed a guy. That’s not a serious violent felony. Nothing suggests he was a threat to the officer or others. He was unarmed.

      • Peggy


      • Patrick

        Maybe you don’t understand the concept of a threat of death or serious bodily injury to officer or others.

        We don’t know the evidence but it has been released that the officer was treated for facial injuries. If Brown attacked the officer, that rises to the level of threat of death or serious bodily injury.

        Why? Because the officer has a gun and someone attempting to or incapacitating the officer now has access to the gun.

        So, if Brown attacked the officer and decided to run. The officer orders him to stop, but instead Brown turns around and starts running towards the officer again, how is that not a deadly force situation?

        • jroberts548

          The test for deadly force in self-defense isn’t whether it’s reasonably necessary to prevent a threat of death or serious bodily injury. The test is whether it’s reasonably necessary to prevent a threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury. It has to be imminent, as in, immediate. The defendant’s state of mind has to be more like “if I don’t use deadly force right now, I will die.” and not, “He might knock me out and take my gun, and then maybe he’ll shoot me.”

          Could Wilson have used deadly force in self-defense when Brown went for the gun? Probably. Could Wilson use deadly force in self-defense was Brown was some distance away and unarmed? No. Self-defense as a justification requires imminence. You don’t get to hang on to self-defense till you feel like killing someone.

          And if it was self-defense, the cops would say it was self-defense. A week ago, they shot someone at one of the protests/riots that pointed a gun at the cops. The cops immediately said that the guy pointed a gun at them. No one is protesting that guy. I don’t even know his name. Unless the cops just really love using their riot gear, if it was self-defense, they would say so (however, I’m not certain I can rule out that other explanation. They’ve done everything they can to escalate the situation at every step).

    • Guest

      NYTimes has the same information (photos/report) but with no screechy “Obama is from Kenya he’s a Mau Mau” garbage. It’s best to steer away from Jim Hoft/Gateway Pundit because the crazy stories seriously undermine any “journalism.”

      • Peggy

        Actually the NBP called Obama those things. Funny, they’re mad at Obama at this point.

        • Guest

          Yeah, I know but it’s still ridiculous. And to report it as serious journalism is even more ridiculous. It’d be one thing if Hoft/Gateway was a parody site, like The Onion, but it’s not. It’s a “Breaking News!” site like Drudge, but with a tabloid feel and screechy commentary.

          • Peggy

            It’s news though that black activists are angry with Obama.

            • Guest

              Not really, b/c someone somewhere is always angry with Obama, all for various reasons.

              • Peggy

                Really? When black activists, his bread and butter, abandon him?

                • JM1001

                  When black activists, his bread and butter, abandon him?

                  Just a suggestion: If you want to know what “black activists” think, stop reading what Fox News and the conservative blogs tell you what black activists think, and actually read the writings of black activists; their opinions on Obama are wide and diverse.

                  On the site Black Agenda Report, for example, pretty much every article on Obama is critical of his administration.

                  • Peggy

                    So, the NBP guy didn’t say that? I am sure there are a variety of black groups out there that have a variety of opinions–within a certain range.

                    Don’t forget O and Holder dropped charges against NBP in the 2008 election, though evidence was pretty clear cut.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      They’re reacting to your breach of a narrative, not to you in particular. Only one of the “other” would breach the narratives. Notice that they presumed your source was Fox News. You only make sense to them as a snarling animal Republican. I suppose it’s perfectly human to want a “bad guy” in every dispute, but it’s darned annoying when that appetite is so disordered that it causes disregard for reason.

                    • Peggy

                      The credibility of this blogger is pretty much shot with me, but I foolishly soldier on here like an idiot.

                      Godspeed to you!

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Without the good fight, we’d get bored.

                • Willard

                  Oh jeez…the black panthers are barely a thing and the overwhelming majority of African Americans support our president.

                • Petey
          • Petey

            the onion is impeccable.

            • Guest

              Agreed. Today The Onion has “Tips for Being an Unarmed Black Teen.” Tip 9: “Be as polite and straightforward as possible when police officers are kicking the ***t out of you.”

          • Elaine S.

            I used to read Gateway Pundit regularly, but had to give it up because it was becoming — for me — a near occasion of sin and a mental health hazard. By that I mean that nearly every time I read it, I came away either angry or mired in despair. The surest way for me to ruin a good mood is to read Gateway Pundit. I have studiously avoided reading it during the current unpleasantness for that very reason. But, as they say, your mileage may vary.

    • Kate Cousino

      Mike Brown is also a ridiculously common name. And people have been killed for having the wrong name before.

      • Peggy

        Um, the photos matched up reportedly. It was not about a name search in some large database.

  • Andy

    I uess I am going to have to say that the cops are covering something up – original reporting that Brown was suspect had me believing that the officer in question stopped him for that reason – Chief said that the officer who shot did not know that Brown was a suspect. Damn and I thought that violence might have been averted

  • Benjamin2.0

    More riots last night. So much for the peaceful approach. Given that the riot police tactics followed the looting to begin with (rather than vice versa, as The Great Narrative would have us believe), I don’t know that there’s any room for surprise. It would’ve done me some good to see that looters respond to good faith, though.

    • jroberts548

      This is a bold suggestion. Maybe cops could try using riot police tactics against looters, and leaving peaceful protestors alone, instead of doing the opposite of that.

      • Benjamin2.0

        Errmmm… I’m pretty sure the protestors weren’t ever indiscriminately tear gassed. Possible principled exceptions could be: (1) protestors standing next to looters and (2) protestors who would not disperse when legally told to do so.

    • Peggy

      Stop! Stop! You’re ruining the narrative. The cops just watched the looters and business owners had to defend their own properties.

  • Angelus77

    Just bringing it all back to: we don’t know the definitive facts, so we cannot judge the situation. Amazing if all this is true, and this police officer and his family are in danger due to politics.

  • KM

    I posted this on a different thread further down, but NYTimes has preliminary autopsy results which show at least six shots to Brown’s front — 4 to inside of right arm and 2 to head. So far the examiner concludes that he was shot from a distance but clothing needs to be examined for gunshot residue. The private autopsy information was released at the family’s request.

    More at:

  • Peggy

    Now the bumbling Nixon calls in the NG. So much for de-militarizing. A police (not sure which entity) spokesperson told a local station that none of the people arrested, eg, Sat were from Ferg. Not sure if they’re from another burb, the City or out of state. So, we’re talking mostly about outside trouble makers ruining local businesses and lives, and disrupting the opening of local schools. I am sure some local hoodlums are joining in. The citizenry in general are peacefully protesting during the daylight hours.

    The autopsy info so far supports the officer’s story that Brown was rushing him. Brown must have put his head down and planned to ram him hard. The officer was probably aiming low, got the arm 4 times. I suspect the cop will get charged with something, but it does not appear to be wanton murder. We shall see. There is a good deal of politics invested in this case at this point.

    • Benjamin2.0

      The mind boggles at how nobody argues for shouting “fire” without evidence of fire as protected speech, but shouting “institutional racism” in the absence of evidence (or, now, in the presence of conflicting evidence) – and actually causing riots – is currently in vogue.

      • Peggy

        I gotta go, but the presser today by Brown’s family was incendiary. Crump. The medical examiners were more reasonable and left open much room for interpretation.

      • Kristen inDallas

        says the man currently choking on smoke inside the crowded theatre…

    • KM

      Some combat veterans say that the last shot to the top of the head could have come from him falling forward while shots were being fired, since the prior shot to the eye would have stopped him. This is where a more comprehensive forensic analysis will be helpful because witnesses say Brown was being chased by the officer who was shooting at him. Then Brown turned around either with hands up to surrender (this point is in dispute), and was shot in the front multiple times.

      Why would Brown, who was running away from an officer shooting at him, suddenly turn around to face the officer who has a clear advantage? This would mean certain death or injury, so maybe he was turning to surrender. However if he was turning around to face the officer in order to ram him, it would be difficult to ram him because 1) the officer was shooting directly at him and 2) it was from a distance which he’d have to traverse as shots would be fired at him.

      Obviously there still remains much to be answered about this. It’s not very clear what transpired. But as one commenter at another blog asked: All this over jaywalking?

      • Peggy

        Yes. Good points KM! More info needed.

  • KM

    Many people are wondering why Ferguson erupted *now* over this shooting. A reasonable article at Vox explains how there have been longstanding issues with the police there, and this shooting was the final straw for its community. The professor who was interviewed talked about disparities, including economic disparities. This doesn’t condone rioting. It’s an attempt to understand how the situation which has been building over many years got to this point.

    I lived in Cincinnati before the 2001 riots there which were triggered by a very similar shooting by police. I could tell there were tensions brewing there when I lived there in the 1990s, so it didn’t surprise me when the Cincinnati riots happened.

    Eventually, as with Los Angeles, reform of the police department led to an improved relationship with the community. A better relationship between the police and the community is the key to a long-term solution to this. That will take time.