— David Carson (@PDPJ) August 19, 2014
Police forces in Ferguson, Missouri, arrested at least twenty-two people last night and also fired tear gas indiscriminately into a crowd of demonstrators, which included families with their children. The people marching were continuing protests against the officer, who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. And, during the march, one man was shot by a rifle loaded with rubber bullets at point blank range after being ordered to freeze.
A team with Missourians for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), which has been on the ground providing legal support, found that the number of people arrested provided to media by police was incorrect. Seven or eight people were not arrested. In fact, the team believes more than twenty-two were arrested but they have not been able to locate every person.
MORE indicated in a press release that police clad in military-grade gear used tear gas, mace, rubber bullets on August 17. Police pointed rifles at unarmed civilians and also beat people they encountered.
Firedoglake interviewed Terrance Williams, a black man who was arrested during the middle of the march about 8:30 pm before tear gas had been fired. He recounted how a “SWAT team” and various other cops had surrounded him.
“It was nowhere near curfew time,” Williams stated. “First thing they did was say freeze.” An officer put the gun very close to his face. It was too close for Williams, and he said he turned around to get the gun out of his face. Then, the officers moved.
At “point blank range,” Williams said he was “shot in the butt” with a rubber bullet.
“I got hit once. I fell. I got up, took off running. I got hit again in my back, and I just laid there. They said don’t move. I didn’t move,” he further recalled.
The police used white zip ties and tied his arms together tightly. The police then put him in a truck or van in a lot by a car wash across from the QuikTrip. He sat with other arrestees for about seven hours before they were finally taken to a police station in Clayton.
“I was never once read my rights,” Williams added. “By the time I got to Clayton, they booked us and I was out. I don’t have warrants or nothing so I knew they were going to let me go.”
Williams was not charged with any crime. Understandably, he was still very upset with how he had been treated.
“[Police] didn’t have to shoot me if I wasn’t moving. I wasn’t going nowhere. [Police] didn’t have to pull the trigger. [Police] could have cuffed me then,” Williams argued. “When they actually did cuff me, why did we have to sit in a truck or a van for seven hours before [police] actually took us to jail?”
“I went to the emergency room when I left. They gave me some prescription to take the pain away. They just told me it’s going to be awhile before the bruises heal,” he added. The wound is “real big and red.”
“I shouldn’t have been in no van for seven hours. It’s crazy to me. Like I said, never once read my rights.”
“If you’re not going to charge me with nothing, why was I held in a van for 7 hours?” Williams said he had asked someone at the station. “They were like we ain’t got nothing to do with that. I’m like come on, if I can’t tell you, who can I tell? If I tell the cops, and you tell me you ain’t got nothing to do with it, who can I go to?”
An officer involved in the arrest apparently told Williams that what he was doing for Brown was “worthless.”
Williams is not from Ferguson, but has family who live in Ferguson.
“This ain’t never happened,” Willams declared. “I’ve been here twenty-six years. This ain’t ever happened in St. Louis.”