County police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of protesters as the St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teen was shot by a city police officer overwhelmingly avoided violence Thursday after nearly a week of unrest and mounting public tension.
The dramatic shift came after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping local police from the St. Louis County Police Department of their authority after four days of clashes with furious crowds protesting the weekend death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
"All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas," said Pedro Smith, 41, who has participated in the nightly protests. "This is totally different. Now we're being treated with respect."
That was Thursday. On Friday, that respect vanished as the Ferguson PD released the name of the officer responsible for the fatal shooting.
Police have announced the name of the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri -- an incident that led to days of clashes in the streets of the St. Louis suburb.
Darren Wilson was revealed today as the officer who shot Michael Brown, 18. Officials have moved the six-year police veteran and his family from the town as a safety precaution.
Wilson does not have any history of disciplinary action, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said.
Which is what people expected. Then the Ferguson cops played their trump card.
Jackson also noted that Wilson was "treated for an injury." When he announced Wilson's name, they handed out copies of a police report relating to a convenience store "strong arm" robbery that took place in the area shortly before Brown's fatal shooting, showing that the police see the two events as connected.
"After viewing Brown and reviewing this video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident," the police report about the convenience store robbery stated.
So suddenly, Mike Brown became a "primary robbery suspect". Possibly dangerous, too. Now he's not an "unarmed black man" but a "black criminal." Instant justification for his murder. No mention of the robbery was made in the last five days. This is the first we're hearing of it. It's such an egregious cover-up that it would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that Mike Brown is dead as a result, and the fact that the Ferguson PD has framed black men for crimes before.
But the usual narrative is now complete. Mike Brown was just another "black thug", a "rabid animal" who deserved death by cop. Officer Darren Wilson is a hero, and he'll almost certainly be back on the job soon. I have no hope that he'll face justice. Not in America.
We're all just animals who haven't been put down yet.