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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 68,719

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Girl of My Dreams

It's my 36th wedding anniversary and I dragged out up this true story I wrote out a few years back, hopefully finding room this weekend to share it with folks here again. . . I loved relating this story here, and just can't help living it again with such a caring and generous community that resides here at DU. So, fwiw..

____Is there someone you met in the past who so captivated you that their image and the event was permanently planted into the recesses of your memory to be measured against all others? I'm not talking about some consummated meeting or relationship, but a brief, almost casual encounter which left you imagining what life would have been had you said or done something differently or pursued them more aggressively.

I was eighteen and making my first stand away from home in Cumberland Md..when I met her. I had just been released a few months earlier from what the State called a forestry camp atop Mt. Savage outside of Lonaconing, Md.. I had stolen some stuff the summer before (as a juvenile) gotten caught, and had been granted the benefit of an alternative to the frightful detention center by a judge exasperated that I'd spurned his home detention ruling and skipped town to pass my eighteenth birthday with two of my best friends in a barn on the property of a girls school on an old Shaker community property right across the Mass. border in upstate N.Y..

We had taken a train ride to visit my buddy Gary's girlfriend who was in residence there; an impulsive decision to travel made after a night which began with a Neil Young concert which opened with Neil sitting cross-legged atop a massive box singing 'Silver Mountain' to a crowd which didn't stop cheering from beginning to end - and finished off with a gallon bottle of port wine shared between us in a church parking lot.

We spent five glorious, life-transforming days in N.Y. drinking brandy by day and Southern Comfort every night. One of the memories which sticks out was stumbling upon what I believe was a grave site in the middle of an overgrown woods with several short stone columns arranged in a rectangle, linked by an enormous iron chain, and a short monument or marker at one end. I tripped over the chain, and unable, somehow, to regain my feet, I crawled over to the stone obelisk to read the inscription. I memorized it:

"In loving memory of the members of the Shaker community," it read, "who dedicated their lives to humanity, passed on to immortality. Hands to work, hearts to God."

That evening I took my friends to the top floor of one of the aging barns and showed them where I had taken my pocket knife and scratched each of our names into the wooden wall at one end. Underneath them I had carved, "Lest We Forget."

I eventually surrendered and called home to face the music right after we were discovered in the barn and escorted to a truck stop at the state line by a school administrator. Dad arranged passage for me on a plane home and I literally said goodbye to my youth (and my friends) right then and there at the airport as they went on to spend more time in Mass. and I went home to jail.

I did my court-ordered time in a state-run forestry camp cutting dead trees down with a crosscut saw and cutting them into cords with the same aggravating tools. We split the $10-$12 dollars we earned between the 11 of us . . . I took the time to study botany out of a book one of the bus drivers for the camp gave me. I made plans to be a forester and I spent my nights reading and studying from this advanced botany book.

I got myself admitted to Allegheny State College while I was still locked-up and, after I was released, I had my Dad drive me to Cumberland and drop me off at the Y.M.C.A. in the middle of town. It was dingy and had a weird smell, but, when the old man put $75 dollars in travelers' checks in my hand and drove off, I was at the top of the world . . . for about an hour or so.

The small town was indifferent to downright hostile to my presence. That was something that took this suburban boy a while to get used to. I had imagined working and going to school, but it quickly became apparent that there wasn't going to be work to be had anywhere I could travel to in that miserable place.

I ended up staying on the Y.M.C.A roof for a few nights until I got caught. Desperate and running out of cash, I talked a nice lady into letting this would-be student rent a room. I got lucky. I got a nice place with a sink, stove, a bed, and a bath. I readjusted myself and headed out into town the first night.

Center Street runs down the middle of Cumberland with the hospital and graveyard up above and the railroad tracks down below. I headed up there with the few bucks I had left to see if I could buy some weed or anything other than beer. I had just turned 18 that year, but I had no ID at all, so I wasn't even in a good position to buy alcohol (even if I wanted it). So, I took a good position against the wall outside of one of the string of bars and waited . . . and waited. After awhile, a few folks came by and walked over to me, hoping the the stranger had better connections than they did. Good luck with that. I got a few promises that they'd come back if the guy they knew came through . . . I waited some more.

After an eternity, something was finally happening across the street. There came a girl, in a hurry past a group of guys who were walking on the same side. They hooted and cajoled at this chick, and, all at once, I realized that if I wanted any action at all I was definitely on the wrong side of the street. I could've been over there hooting and whistling at the only decent girl I'd seen in the entire time I had been in town.

I was kicking myself, when suddenly, she was right beside me! The girl from across the street had gone by and doubled back to where I was leaning against the wall.

"Can you please do me a favor?" she asked. "Can I just stand here by you until they leave? I can't handle it when they do that," she said, "and I'm scared of them. Can I just stand here until they're gone?"

I was in shock, because I hadn't had more than a few minutes of casual conversation with any female in my life. Now this girl wouldn't shut up. She went on and on about how she hated it when men did 'that' -- how she hated to be treated like an object, and so on, and on.

"Don't you?" she asked, not waiting for the answer. "You looked like a kind person and I knew I'd be safe standing here, I hope you don't mind."

Truth is, I did sort of mind. Here was, perhaps, the girl of my dreams, asking me to come to her house to meet her brother who played guitar and might know where to get some weed . . . "Are you coming?" she asked, now walking away toward the street where she lived. I waited until she was a ways down the street before I resigned myself to give up my vigil for weed and follow. She looked back and I waved her on.

"I'm, coming, I'm coming," I waved her on again and followed her home. Sure enough, her brother was there with a friend. No weed, but this girl was growing on me. She was staying in a one floor building (shack) at the rear of another larger home. Her painted art was scattered all over the place and there was a quirky self-portrait hanging right by the front door. It was the perfect hippie haven -- even without the weed.

We talked for a few hours, her brother left, and eventually, so did I - with just a memorable and careful kiss goodbye in the moonlight - but, after a long sleepless night with the impression of that kiss spurring me on, I went back to her house the next day with a couple of Grolsh beers and some carnations that I blew the last of my money on. I threw away the tacky paper they were wrapped in and presented them and myself, once again, to my future, surprised, but pleased, wife-to-be.

I remember she put a Steve Miller album on her simple stereo and our mutual tastes for music immediately put me at ease. It was my very first time in a young adult's home, however, and I marveled at something as simple as a refrigerator full of food, and that she actually cooked.

We'd been eating and talking awhile and I heard this noise from the backroom. She played it off, but there it was again! I got up and opened the back bedroom door and there he was -- a little bitty baby boy. She had been thinking the kid was some kind of deal-breaker and had kept the lid on him, I was totally cool with it, and I wondered if she would let me stay and hang out with them. I was still such a kid, myself, she being 4 years my senior. I lied to her about my age . . .

Later that evening her landlord delivered a letter in which he had tripled her rent. The call we got that night with a woman whispering 'n****r-lover, n****r-lover over the line put the sudden rent increase into perspective. One night and a day in her house and the townfolk had revolted against us. I resolved to stay one more night.

I was supposed to go to my first day of college the next morning, but after a night of my first real lovemaking, we both heard a rooster crow and realized then that her blackout curtains had hidden the full morning and afternoon which had unfolded away from our view. I had blown my first day of college. We both decided we would leave town together and set up another house in College Park Md.. She packed up the next day, gave me her last $175 dollars, put me on a bus and we promised to meet the next day when her friend brought her and her son to College Park, I guess to stay with my sister until we got settled.

What a crazy plan, as I look back on it. She was leaving the town where her mother, father, and her younger brother were living; practically her home town, given the years she had lived there after moving from Falls Church Va.. She was going to meet me at the entrance of the University of MD that next afternoon with a car full of everything she owned. Insane. Yet, there I was on the bus back to my hometown of Bethesda, Md.. There I was, back on the street, out drinking with my buddies.

There I was, in jail for trespassing when she arrived the next day; me, nowhere in sight. By a hair of luck, she reached my sister, practically minutes before just heading back to Cumberland. I wrote her a poem in jail which I held up to the window between us in the visitor's room:

I am where I am
Meant to be
I am settled here
For warm currents of love
Pulling you
In a wide circle
Past the place
Where I am waiting
And you drift back
To me, after all.
Gather me
Up in your journey
I belong
Where you are going
Like the first night
We met
As I sat waiting
Where I had been
Drawn up in the
Warm currents of love
That carried us
Here together.

We married a couple of months later -- poorer than when we arrived, but deeper in love.

Now my wife is certainly my dream girl, but I'd be lying if I said she was the only girl etched into my memories of my youth. There was one particular encounter that burned into my memory and flooded my imagination with things that might-have-been on one of those glorious summer days which never seemed to end; then ended way too soon.

My friends and I used to pile into a van or car and just head out, barefoot, to the country with our guitars, our weed, and our craziness. We'd go down to Great Falls and climb around on the rocks or track through the woods before settling in a circle somewhere and passing the bowl around. We'd go to Sugarloaf Mountain and we'd climb to the top to just look out and ride the world.

Funny thing was, my wife had also taken day-trips during her youth to most of the same spots my gang liked to hang out -- like Sugarloaf, the Falls (on the opposite Virginia side), or the quarry at the base of Sugarloaf Mt., full of amazingly blue spring water with frighteningly high cliffs to dive off.

In fact, we seemed to live dual lives, even though she lived in Falls Church, Va. and I lived in Bethesda, Md.. We both lived like our hippie idols; already (happily) out of touch with the rest of society before we met and married. We both grew up listening to James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Rod Stewart played over and over again on WINX radio. Later, we both grew up further listening to WHFS; me, enjoying their station situated in my home town, and she, listening to the alternative folk-rock from her town in Falls Church. It kind of shaped us the same way. Kind of folky and artsy. . . hippie wannabes.

We'd seen some of the same concerts and both had enjoyed Georgetown's then-bohemian weekends in their heyday. We'd talk about those days as we grew older together as if we'd lived them together and not from opposite states. It's a blessing to share similar memories to recall together. We'd climbed the same mountains, swam the same lakes; albeit, apart from one another; oblivious to each others existence. We'd both swam the crystal-blue waters in Dickerson Quarry at the foot of Sugarloaf, braving the high cliffs and having the time of our lives partying with the dozens who showed up there every summer.

In fact, it was at Dickerson quarry where I met one particular girl - one I obsessed on; a girl I measured all others against; a momentary encounter I had recreated and embellished in my head a thousand times a year thereafter.

I still remember that summer afternoon as clearly as if it was yesterday. Two guys I knew, Peter and Alex, had gotten wind of a fellow who was going to drive the motorcycle that had killed his buddy off of the highest cliff at Dickerson. A bunch of us piled into Peter's van and drove to the quarry so we could see the happening and so they could film it with their new video camera. A pretty large crowd gathered on the banks of the quarry and watched the spectacle unfold. The biker revved his engine a couple of times, hesitated, and then drove straight off the cliff into the water. He fell for what seemed like an eternity, then finally, flipped forward over the handlebars as the bike fell out under him. Big cheers all around as he surfaced, mostly unharmed.

Not to be outdone (I was actually outdone), I took my first 'dive' off of the next-to-longest drop. I got out of the water and took a second dive off of '14', the tallest drop (not anywhere close to 14 anything - more like 100 or something). Well, I got bored and decided to show-off for my indifferent hosts just one more time. I headed through the woods to the cliff we called the 'running-jump'. The trick to this cliff was that it sloped outward so far that you had to get a good run up before jumping way out to avoid the cliff and the little pine growing out from the rocks underneath.

I got to the top of the cliff and looked out. By that time I was shivering so badly that I could feel the ground shaking beneath my trembling legs. I was both cold and scared. I thought of giving up, but the folks I had told to watch were at '14' waiting. I paced around in the woods awhile, shivering and shaking uncontrollably now. I resigned myself to give up and walk away.

I had just hit the path when I spotted someone running towards me and the cliff. It was a girl! Yes. Exclamation point, girl!

"Hey man!" she said to me, as if she knew me. She was at least a head taller than me, and real aggressive. My sister was the only girl that tall who had EVER bothered to say more than a word to me; especially not "hey man" like I was cool or something. But, I was cool. Cool as shit. Damn cool. But, my hair had gotten wet and I had on my uncontrollable clown hair with one side inevitably sticking up higher than the other. I felt like an idiot there, bare bird-chested, shaking like a leaf.

She didn't seem to care. "So, you gonna jump, man?" she asked me, with respect and attention that I'd never really experienced from a girl before; especially not an older one.

"Yeah, but I'm chickening out, I think." I said, not bothering to care how wimpy I sounded. "I'm cold and shivering . . . are you going?" I asked her.

"Yeah man," she said. "It's not hard. You just have to jump out way far."

"I've been practicing jumping as far as I can into the woods to get ready." I said.

"You don't have to do all that, man. Just get back as far as you can to get a good run. It's easy." And with that, we both went to the edge and looked out and down. "I'm going," she told me. "I'll wait for you at the bottom if you decide to go."

With that, she went as far back into the woods as she was able, ran to the edge of the cliff and propelled herself out and down into the water. There she waited, wading water as she called for me to go next. There was no way I wasn't going, so I loaded up whatever courage I had, made myself realize that could be my last moment alive on earth, and I jumped . . . I landed right beside her.

"Cool, man," she had said to me, or something like that. I thanked her briefly and she said goodbye and swam over to 'Beetle' -- the smallest drop in the quarry; where most of the girls drew the line if they were inclined at all to jump off of cliffs into crystal-blue water.

So, from that brief encounter, I had experienced the most time with a girl in my entire 14 years on the planet -- and she was taller and older, at that! Silly, I know, but, you see, I'd had just a few close encounters with girls before I met my wife, and, whenever I thought of Dickerson quarry, I also fantasized about what that moment would have been like; if I had just taken more advantage, perhaps.

I fantasized about that moment for so many years, that there I was sitting listening to music with my wife of 25 years on day long removed from that iconic summer of my youth; thinking of Dickerson quarry and remembering that wonderful girl who had made me feel less of the gangly kid I was and more the way I'd imagined myself to be. I relived the magical afternoon that moment and tracked the distance in my mind across the quarry and back to where my friends had been watching.

I remember that I got back to the top of '14' and the guys that gave me a ride were nowhere to be found. I had waited until, finally, they came out of the woods with their camera and sheepish grins on their faces. As I recalled in my daydream, they'd found two girls in the woods by 'Beetle' rock and had filmed them in their immodesty. . .

Pink Floyd was playing the same song on the stereo that had consoled me in the van on the way back home that summer day way-back-when, daydreaming along with 'Breathe' of my ultimate romantic encounter with a girl.

Breathe, breathe in the air
Don't be afraid to care
Leave but don't leave me
Look around and choose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be...

I turned off the music. Silence.

"Honey. Listen . . . I have something I want to ask you," I said to my wife. "Listen, it's important."

"Okay," she replied, not certain what confession was forthcoming; not sure if she should be interested or angry.

"Do you remember," I asked, "that you told me once that you'd seen a guy ride a motorcycle off of the cliff at Dickerson Quarry. Do you remember that?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered. "I'd driven up there with Becky because she told me this guy was going to do it, so we went to see him."

"How many times did someone ride a bike . . .," I thought to myself. "Honey," I asked slowly, taking a deep breath as I waited for the answer. I had something . . . "Did you see a couple of guys with a video camera that afternoon (so very rare in those days) trying to take your picture?" I asked her.

"Yes I do," she said, after a short pause. "I was hiding in the woods because my shirt was wet and see-thru," she explained. She had to get it by now . . . That persisting vision of Peter and Alex at the end of my mind-reel of memories from that day was the missing piece of the puzzle. Why hadn't we realized this earlier?

"I knew those guys," I told her. "They brought me to the quarry that day to see the motorcycle jump. Honey," I said, "I've got something to tell you. We met that day. No, really met, in a big way."

I told her about the running jump; the tom-girl a head taller than me, and my years of daydreaming on that magic moment in the woods . . .

"You're kidding . . ."

It was absolutely true. Turns out, the woman I had married 25 years earlier, without realizing it, was the very woman I had spent almost 30 years daydreaming about -- in fact, dreaming about at that very moment.
Much to our surprise and my chagrin over cheating on my wife with the memory of that youthful encounter - memories I had held as precious and defining of my youth for years and years - I had, in fact, actually married the girl of my dreams.

Happy anniversary, my dear.

Salad days...

No, I'm not 'back,' I'm reading, but most definitely still not able to fully participate here.

However, I'd like to ask for a selfish indulgence from those here who are still interested, still anguished (perhaps) over the continuing crisis of justice and humanity in Ferguson, MO..

As some here may well know, the tragic events there, and the unimaginable, but very real and unsettling response by the officers and officials there to the efforts by that community to exercise their free speech rights to protest and be heard have shaken me to the core and I'm still unable to discuss them, write about them, or even listen to or read about them without weeping uncontrollably.

Those who know me personally understand that it's not only out of character for me to be so traumatized to weep (much less, uncontrolled - I really don't fully understand my reaction, myself), and that it's likely a reflection of a mental illness brought on by the stress of previous experiences, triggered by events in Ferguson which I've engrossed myself in, by choice; by necessity. It's also a reflection and effect of my unsettled view of my personal heritage; my citizenship; and perhaps, my own self-worth; to view the tragic events in Ferguson which residents there are experiencing as integral to all of those in my own relatively secure life.

*I had noticed seriously abnormal reactions from myself to the back and forth between members here in which I had become undeservedly abusive towards posters, and, although it's a cinch to post, I'm not mentally balanced enough for the discussions which are integral to actual participation here. It's really not fair to others more dedicated to discussions for *me to hit and run, but I'm not mentally able to engage fully, so... this post is somewhat of a more detailed explanation for my exit as much as it is cathartic for me. I see that some question this approach, but I'm convinced it won't disrupt them too much or affect them too much - me, on the other hand, I still have some very real mental health issues that I'm receiving care for and working on. I hope DUers can bear this indulgence without too much disdain or resentment.

Anyway, I want to just share this video of what is correctly labeled as, 'A skin-tingling speech which speaks to the heart of #Ferguson -- Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal on Missouri Senate floor Sept. 10, 2014. Chapelle-Nadal delivers a gripping speech calling Gov. Nixon to the carpet for allowing Senators and constituents to be stripped of their 1st Amendment rights while being tear gassed and treated like animals. She details how MO Governor Nixon allowed the state of emergency to escalate while he did nothing. Senator Chapelle-Nadal brings it all into perspective, detailing personal experiences as well as the racist history of #Ferguson which culminated into the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting when the MO Governor treated Ferguson like foreign enemy territory.'

I'm going to post it here without much comment (and no response) because I believe it will be helpful for some to understand just what this community in Ferguson has been experiencing, and what they're facing right now, and in the future.

Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has placed herself on the front lines of this important struggle for justice and the rights of her constituency and has served, in her words, as a 'mother, a teacher, and a sister' as she has spent countless hours among the people 'as Jesus would have done' to help citizens cope with the challenges they've faced. Tear-gassed for three days in a row, along with other protesters, while her governor 'sat in his home,' Sen. Chappelle-Nadal has been a tireless advocate and deserves a complete listen to her emotional and powerful address.

Thanks, in advance, for your attention and dedication to this crisis in Ferguson, and I wish everyone the very best of luck in your endeavors and extend the very best regards from me for your friendship and commitment.


*I regularly retweet on Ferguson and St. Louis from an extensive network of folks who follow these issues and developments from direct connections to the state and local government and community.

You can follow me here: ron fullwood ‏@ronfullwood (be certain to follow the folks I retweet... that's where you'll get connected to up to date events and developments)

Thanks again, y'all. We protest, we share... joy. Love for the people.


We the 'People of Ferguson'

THEY'RE burying Michael Brown today, and much has been said during his funeral that was heard and will be repeated. A few words are running through my head as I pull myself away from the coverage and reflect on this day - on the days preceding this sad and introspective one recalling the life of this young man. Among those: peace; justice; responsibility, accountability . . . A few thoughts, if I may - some old, some new.

I'm not actually from Ferguson, but I share a deep affinity with their plights; both societal and economic. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched events unfold in the moments and days following his murder that there was a prominent drive to the day of his burial to justify turning away from this injustice - to try and dismiss and obscure this tragedy with yet more despicable characterizations of this young man and of those who dare to elevate his humanity and his identity above all of the hate and violence perpetrated against him and his memory, and even some hate and violence practiced in his name.

Who are we; we the people of color? We the African Americans? We Minorities, we Negroes, we Blacks? Our history in this country is rooted in slavery and oppression, but in the search for the roots we sometimes find that the more we draw closer to our black identity, the more we seem to pull away from the broader America. An insistence that our community must necessarily be at odds with white America, because of our tragic beginnings, threatens to render our successes impotent.

Yet, what becomes of a quest for a national identity when many of blacks' contributions in developing and reforming this nation have not been acknowledged or reciprocated? Can we really put aside our identification with our unique heritage and regard ourselves as 'homogenized,' even as our particular needs are seemingly ignored? Can we; even as the advancement of a person of color to the highest office in the land is openly disparaged by racism and hatred?

We the Egyptians. We the Portuguese. We the Sudanese; the Nubian; the Ashanti; the Mossi. We the Arabs; we the Spanish; we Indians; we Europeans. We the Moslem; the Muslim; we Christian; we Buddhist; we agnostic and atheist. We are all driven to roil tradition and UNITE, to prevent us from isolating ourselves into obscurity. We desperately need to move on.

These preoccupied courts of equity that are the instruments of our democracy were, in their infancy, forced to bend to the will of the governed by war, and tempered by a compact in which a united people reluctantly bestowed the force of their lives and labor to a handful of managers. From that compact, a nation was born. And from that compact, generations of Americans would give their faith and their lifeblood to defend the principles and morality which cosseted every sacrifice of their freedom and well-being that they entrusted to those they elected, for the benefit and furtherance of the common good.

These same Americans would demand today that those who profess to lead us would wield the power of our collective faith and struggle with a selfless spirit, and be humbled by the source of the awesome power that is effectively bequeathed to them with our vote. Yet through our nation's faith, and in the trust we place in our representatives that they would be humbled to serve the will of the people, and by their good judgement lead, we have been betrayed by a ruling-class oligarchy which has perpetuated its role and influence in our governance; not by the quality of their service, but through the advantages of patronage and association.

With our votes, cast for hollow promises of representation in the division and disposition of our contributions of blood and sacrifice, we get no more than spattered remains of precious meal from a pig's trough, and in turn, we assure their ascendency to that two-percent confederation of corporate interests who routinely divide the fruits of our labor for their own benefit and purpose.

As we reflect on the life of this young man gunned down in the street, let us not forget that it is these very police officers and other officials in Ferguson and elsewhere, who are supposed to be protecting and defending the rights of ALL of the citizens in their jurisdictions; and having divided themselves from the people they are supposed to serve, are presently doing little more than defending their own positions of authority over us, abusing that power we've invested in them with our votes and with our hard-earned contributions to our democratic system of governance.

It's not the peaceful demonstrators of Ferguson - under violent assault, surveillance, and arbitrary detention by these 'peacekeepers,' as they're euphemistically called - who've neglected to hold tight to those values of law and justice that cosset the foundations of our democracy. It's these abusive and self-protective officials and officers who have let go of any modicum of respect for these communities under siege and under fire from their canisters of smoke and tear gas hurled from a distance behind the protection of their taxpayer-sponsored armaments.

We are going to need to keep raising our voices above their sonic cannons and their lecturing from the elevation of the offices we've gifted them with; HOLLER if we must, until our voices are plainly heard and our demands addressed. THAT'S how "we bring about justice," and THAT'S how we "bring about peace;" by not allowing ourselves to be cowed into believing that these same indifferent officials and officers can be made to listen and bridge that gulf they've deliberately created to neuter our voices, and place themselves outside of the reach of their own responsibility and accountability to us, by muting or repressing the VOLUME of our own protests.

No one looking at the virtual army that has been arrayed and has already attacked protestors and demonstrators in Ferguson in the past week can ignore or dismiss the fact that these police forces, erected to protect and defend the community, are deliberately armed and armored for repression and deliberately positioned to suppress the very voices that are supposed to elect and guide the government and offices they serve under.

I've heard the excuses from the police and others for their tear gassing, smoke bombing, and sonic sound-blasting of demonstrators who've diligently taken to the streets every night since Michael Brown was gunned down:

One was that they were pursuing the someone who fired gunshots and needed the demonstrators to move. I find that ridiculous. Tear gas and smoke grenades scattered demonstrators and no shooters were caught or found among the peaceful protesters caught in the way of their own opportunistic violence. Cpt. Johnson tried to justify the use of smoke bombs and tear gas (which someone on the force first, incredibly, denied was used) by asserting that the crowd wouldn't disperse . . . so what? That's no reason to gas and smoke bomb demonstrators. It's the exact thing he said earlier wouldn't be resorted to.

Next excuse offered by police was that they had reports of snipers on a roof somewhere who were going to shoot at them if they tried to move the demonstrators. I find that unbelievable. Police had their OWN snipers on roofs, early on in the demonstrations, pointed directly at demonstrators. THEY were, and have been throughout, the most pernicious threat to public safety in Ferguson. It has been their own aim and desire to move protesters off of the streets which has been their pretext for most of the violence directed against the peaceful folks assembling every night.

Elon James, an entertainer who came to Ferguson to lend his presence and support to the people in the community daring to demonstrate against such incredible resistance from police and military forces, did so because, as he tweeted, he "wanted to expose the reality of what was happening in Ferguson . . . That's why I went down there to broadcast and why I kept updating y'all," he wrote.

"Folks don't understand that it wasn't just a protest at times. The police move like an army. Armed. Aggressive. And we were their enemy . . . it makes my head hurt: people mourning a man shot for walking in the street are threatened for walking in the street." he tweeted.

I'd certainly like to see much less confrontational, and much less violent tactics by police, for what is essentially jaywalking or standing in the street. These young folks are simply, understandably, testing the boundaries they are setting for these protests and it would be a wise move to make the state troopers and police less of an obstacle to those. They are being punished, over and over, for their authentic and historically valid expressions of self-determination and justice.

Some people, officers, officials, and observers have suggested that, perhaps, it would be better if the demonstrators would settle down and refrain from protesting, or, that the press is making it worse reporting on the demonstrations.

What I think has actually garnered our attention in Ferguson, though, - beyond the very real and tragic death of a jaywalking youth at the hands of a policeman, and the failure, so far, to move decisively to prosecute the killer - are the sparks of hope which have flashed from the edges of the smoke, gas, and rubber bullets hurled at the very conscience of the town as we watch the people in that community scatter and then regroup, over and over, and return again and again with the same demands for accountability from their elected and appointed officials and officers that are being so deliberately and actively ignored.

I don't think we'd be having this discussion if they weren't in the streets to begin with, and it's become clear that there's still need for even more protest actions to raise awareness and organize attention around their plights and challenges. Heck, even here at political-centered DU, you can't get much attention to strictly policy-based posts and threads. There often needs to be a spark or obvious catalyst to attention and action.

The press gathered there has caught some flak for becoming part of the story, but it should be clear to everyone looking on that there is no attention and action without that reporting. The police officers and officials looking to let this all blow over recognize that fact, as well.

I can recall a night when the press was one of the only refuges for protesting youth targeted by violent, seemingly vengeful police. The police don't want the press there witnessing their violence, and I suspect that this new narrative condemning their presence is a deliberate orchestration of a combination of a refusal of the networks to use their reports and a conscious effort by their media allies to distort them.

What I found notable that particular night was the way in which the police pushed those who were resting in a parking lot - a spot which had been a refuge ALL night for demonstrators to rest and catch their breath, get water and food, etc. - the way they lined up with their riot gear and rifles and pushed everyone into the street. Then, they began ordering protestors OUT of the street THEY pushed them in.

Demonstrators then formed a circle in that same general parking area and, after asking whatever police they were able for permission, began to pray together. At the end of the prayer, one man announced through a bullhorn that their demonstration was over and they would meet the next morning at another location. At that, most of the demonstrators started for their cars and many left.

The prayer circle seemed to agitate the police even more. They mobilized and lined up opposite the PRESS area. Several reporters began taking pictures; several were threatened at the point of guns to stop recording. There were several strobe lights held by officers lined up in riot gear opposite the press area to block the shots of their aggression. It was a futile, but an amazingly unconstitutional act.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing in the images and what was being recorded by these very prominent members of the press and also some public officials like Patricia Bynes, Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township in St Louis County in MO; A delegate for MO's 1st Congressional District; who was hemmed in with the besieged media group.

The mostly young protesters who were left (not more than minutes after the prayers) quickly moved into the press area. For god sakes, it was the only place they were allowed to go. Older members of the demonstrating group quickly moved in between the line of police in riot gear who had lined up opposite the press area as if to attack and they held hands in a line and turned their backs to police to provide a barrier against the imminent assault.

That's when all hell broke loose. The police began yelling for the press too disperse. Where were they going to go? They were hemmed in on all sides. The police then began to rush in to the press area and extract youth who didn't appear to be threatening at all. The police ordered the press to move to one place and many did. The young and old demonstrators moved right along with them for protection, PLEADING with the press to not abandon them To the media's credit, they stayed right with them.

The police then ordered the press to move back to where they were, in an obvious effort to shake them off from the demonstrators seeking refuge among them from the rifles and batons and the mace that was being sprayed now indiscriminately at completely innocent protestors. The officers would rush into the press crowd with their rifles pointed directly at the non-threatening crowd and pick out young people and arrest them in the most violent way imaginable; face down on the concrete with their feet in their backs.

Reporters, photogs, and others who were incredibly there as human rights and legal observers were also slammed to the ground at gunpoint and arrested. At one point, police were literally throwing this one black man against a low metal fence until it gave way. They then took to pushing whoever was gathered there into, and violently over, that metal barrier; many unable to get over it without effort or injury.

After it became clear that the crowd wasn't resisting and was scattered here and there, the police began to dissemble their assaults as well . . . but not until after they had perpetrated the most egregious, arbitrary, and unnecessarily violent assault on an American-based media that I think I've ever witnessed or even heard of.

Ryan J. Reilly, a HuffPo justice reporter, was on the scene during the melee and made this comment to Politico on his own role there:

" . . . the media have a tendency to “protect their own,” which can result in disproportional coverage of journalists. Media personalities are also better known than the average citizen, and readers have the expectation that they can be trusted, he said.

“I definitely didn’t come down here planning on becoming a part of this story — I would have been much happier staying out of it. But that wasn’t really a choice I had, because I was locked up,” said Reilly. “As a reporter, you’re in the midst of it, and your presence is obviously going to have an impact.”

He added, “It’s tough to imagine how much worse the treatment must be for those who aren’t in the media, who don’t have that platform that we in the media do. Obviously, our story doesn’t compare to what other people have gone through.”

I'm not sure if many people realize that moderation and complacency is what's brought that community to this point - even before the shooting(s) the strife and outright indifference to this community's concerns is what marked them for the type of conflict that's highlighted today. Many articles have spelled that out in detail, but the bottom line is that Ferguson's return to 'normal' is a return to a whole host of problems which have plagued that community for decades.

It's never a clear line between where activism and action collide. It is clear though, this community needed to shout in the streets to finally be heard. Theirs is a lasting brand of hope and aspiration which will always stand and regroup long after the cynical and opportunistic blasts of smoke and gas have dissipated into the compromised air.

We are fortunate to witness such courage and resilience in the face of such unbelievable and unimaginable anguish. We are inspired by it, and challenged to stand firm in our own beliefs, and to regroup our values with every deliberate diversion and deliberate distraction. We're inspired to hold fast to our own principles in the face of derision and ridicule for not adhering to some petty political motivation or motive.

The protests and demonstrations in the streets will likely, eventually, dwindle down to a trickle - I think that's, perhaps inevitable, understandable. People in that community have more to accomplish in their lives than this very necessary defense of justice and their own humanity.

Efforts in that community, led by folks like Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman, and pols like Claire McKaskill, will be moving into an action phase where they will not only be helping keep the focus on justice in this particular case of Mike Brown, but accountability for the police department through direct actions, as well as an intense voter registration drive to empower the citizens of Ferguson and the surrounding area to force through the demands and changes they want to see in their community. That's still going to involve activism, albeit, maybe not staying out until midnight marching, but I wouldn't count these young folks and others out of the protest scene as easily as some might predict.

There are plenty of opportunities for that without keeping these people awake at all hours of the night (or in sweltering heat or eventual cold). As anyone can see, this is an energized and motivated group of citizens who have very specific demands, some of which have already emerged, others which I'm sure will develop and solidify as they transfer this protest energy into political action - and there are hosts of people there and help from outside to do just that.

So when we talk about these protests winding down, we may be referring to the clashes and other unproductive activity that marked the earlier demonstrations which brought greater numbers out late into the night (and in the day), but had less actual political impetus than I think we're seeing, even now, from participants in these direct actions and others.

Whatever the obstacle - police repression or political indifference -, there are needs and unmet expectations which won't be diverted by weather or other ephemeral barriers; nor deterred by diminishing crowds willing to stand in the streets and make themselves heard. I look for that protest effort to produce something more concrete, and that's what's going to ultimately make the difference in that community. Continued appeals and other targeted efforts will serve to keep that in the local and other spotlight as effectively, maybe more, than just marching and organizing in the streets.

If those demands aren't met, we're going to see these folks of Ferguson and elsewhere mobilize again and again until they are heard and their demands addressed. With some superfluous mechanisms of police intimidation receding and, perhaps regrouping, there is a deepening of the determination and resolve of those in Ferguson seeking justice, accountability, and even some healing.

It is an amazing thing to witness their resilience and their willingness and ability to adapt and adjust their activities to the confoundedly repressive occupation of their city by police who seem to feel it's their job to restrict the movements of even peaceful demonstrators along that avenue and others and to actually control the means citizens and others are using to organize and express their protests.

The ways in which these deadly and injurious instruments of violence and defense are being allowed by the governor and other state and local officials to be wielded against these demonstrators by officers and quasi-military forces is an almost incredible and direct contradiction of everything our nation is supposed to stand for.

ShordeeDooWhop @Nettaaaaaaaa expressed it well . . .

Darren Wilson EXECUTED Mike Brown 2 weeks ago. And for 2 weeks the police have been TERRORIZING residents trying to silence them. NEVER.

This cannot be allowed to stand unopposed with every responsible means available. This repression by officers and others in Ferguson is a direct reflection of what brought that town to the point of an unarmed teen shot repeatedly and killed over jaywalking. Again and again, that same force of violence and repression is being waged against not only teens, but each and every person who dares step out into the street to oppose it.

I can't help but well-up with great emotion at that thought and sentiment. I really don't know what's going on in my country - in Ferguson - and what we can do to make this stop immediately and to protect these youth and others right to assemble and protest without this police brutality and repression. Those aren't just catchphrases in Ferguson anymore. They are a stunning and frightening reality that we are all witnessing, seemingly helpless to make it stop.

Our social and individual activist media is progressing in prominence and ability, to the point where I believe we practically have a responsibility to exercise it wherever we find the need and whenever we are able (someone called these tweeters,'citizen journalists,' and I agree with that characterization).

I wanted to thank everyone looking in for being here and sharing these anxious days together with me. It's been a great comfort to have people here anguishing along with me for these youth and others caught in the way of this police repression and violence. A couple folks wrote that it triggers, and I'm just now hitting that kind of wall, myself. I hope for something more promising in the future that we can experience and help progress as a community, here at DU and elsewhere.

Outside of the cameras and the images which have flittered in and out of our view screens from these independent sources of live feed; in the vast area of neighborhood surrounding the sleepless edges of the target area of press and protest; there's something substantial which is transcending the long-ago faded hopes that the attention and commotion from their demonstrations for justice and accountability would produce livelihoods and futures which would lift the community out of despair and provide the prosperity and self-determination promised by the politics and politicians of past and present.

Here's to this generation's patriots who doggedly place progress over the politics of the day. Here's to this new generation's defenders of liberty, freedom, justice, and democracy! Here's to the end of the reign of this one-percent confederation of corporate interests. Here's to us!

. . . in my garden today

'Compelling Strategic Interest' in Iraq - What the hell did we think was going to happen?

'Compelling Strategic Interest' . . . that's what the Democratic legislator on CNN just called the slippery slope of an 'expanding mission' in Iraq; now with Congress set to line up like sheep to give their vote of approval for continuing the new administration's old military mission there. We're just a few Democratic votes away from an enabling complicity.

It's a fool's venture, complete with self-perpetuating violence to draw more and more combatants to the cause of opposing America there. We're in Iraq for good this time. I honestly think this is what many of the people who tell me that we HAVE to fight these insurgents in Iraq because they're evil and they hate them and the rest wanted all along.

The vast majority of Americans never had to sacrifice a thing for Bush's wars. Opposing it was to oppose Bush, anti-war was just a political abstraction. There was mass slaughter of Iraqis and American journalists, as well died in Bush's Iraq war. Still we called on him to just end it. Not this time around. Where's the principle? Where are the anti-war values? Where did those voices go? The vast majority of Democrats who opposed Bush's folly will sacrifice even less now that they've shed their political nemesis and are free to cheer war on like proper patriots under their leader of choice.

'Anti war' seems now like a game some played against Bush in the face of the relative quiet there is now against this administration's warring in Iraq - most of the anti-war sentiment drowned out with shallow appeals to support this Democratic president in one 'humanitarian' exercise of our military after the next. I trusted him - damn right I did. I trusted him to get us out of Iraq and keep us out. Damn right I did. Yes, I fucking did.

Yeah, talk me down. Tell me how much I hate the president. Tell me that I can't possibly be serious about opposing war in Iraq . . .why, we're just having a little war, a few airstrikes Ridicule me some more. How can you be so angry? It's just a few airstrikes against evil fundamentalists.

Who could possibly object? You've really changed! You never supported him. You've gone off the deep end. You need to spend time away from the board. You're a troll! I'm sick of this negative talk! You're on ignore!

Supporters of this new mission in Iraq were either hopelessly naive and clueless about the consequences of this action or they're complicit with every nod of approval and every cheer they make for military strikes. We're never going to leave Iraq this time around. There's ALWAYS going to be some atrocity which draws the ignorant and the zealous in and has them either nodding or cheering in approval for more. That's how war goes. Learn it, because we're going to have to live with it.

There are 'boots on the ground' right now. I frankly believe that claiming or accepting the nonsense that there aren't is an insult and a disregard for the troops already there. Supporters? Come out from behind the rhetoric that the politicians are crafting to excuse and justify war in Iraq and and admit that behind all of the strident talk about defeating this latest group of insurgents is a deliberate lure that's now snagged our nation and yanked us back into the same folly we fought so hard to get out of.

It's the terrorist's design - it was the bin-Laden gang's design - get the U.S. close enough so they can zero in on us and get on with their jihad, their holy war against the 'great satan.' They've told us this, our government and military knew this going in.

The military isn't somehow caught off-guard by the horrible violence springing up from these Islamic combatants. Defeating them is a delusion the military has had since they first crafted their 'evil axis' patter to jazz Americans into letting them try their new weapons out; working Americans up into letting them explode their bombs on 'evil ones' and 'fundamentalists.'

We're just targets in Iraq now and our politicians will supplying all the troops and money as the terrorists provide the atrocities for pretext. We never learn. All of the promises to stay away from 'dumb wars' and nonsense about 'just war' is either ignorant or a deception. Take your pick.

We should never have returned troops to Iraq. The hawks are dupes for the combatants' violent bait. We should know better, but I can see that we don't. Anytime folks are ready to stand up and say 'enough' to this 'dumb' warring, I'll be here to lend my voice. There no such thing as limited strikes, limited war. We're finding out the hard way tonight.

Does the name Michael Kelly mean anything to anyone? Steven Vincent? What about Terence Lloyd? Paul_Douglas? Or even José Couso? Look their names up sometime.

Don't give me this crap about not caring about the violence perpetrated from these Iraqi insurgents. There is not amount of troops, airstrikes, or any other attacks which will end the cycle of violence. All we can end is our ignorant and gullible part in it. Yeah, I heard their demand for the U.S. to stop the airstrikes. Like any hostage taker, there isn't any regard at all for the human lives that they lure into their web of violence.

They don't want us to stop. They never want us to stop warring there. Iraq is the holy caliphate; the land where they fight Americans for their delusions of blessed victory over the infidels. We never learn.

Appreciation thread for all folks here committed and dedicated to issues and advocacy over politics

. . . we have a desperate need for information and activism out here in the country, not shallow appeals for fealty to politics and politicians. If you didn't realize it already, I'd like to point out to you that there's a fight on in America for the very heart and soul of our democracy; a fight to elevate our principles and values over the ephemeral and ultimately compromised politics of convenience and opportunity.

What I think has garnered our attention in Ferguson, beyond the very real and tragic death of a jaywalking youth at the hands of a policeman - and the failure, so far, to move decisively to prosecute the killer - are the sparks of hope which have flashed from the edges of the smoke, gas, and rubber bullets hurled at the very conscience of the town as we watch the people in that community scatter and then regroup - over and over - and return again and again with the same demands for accountability from their elected and appointed officials and officers.

Certainly they realize by now that there's no real impetus at all from their leaders to accommodate their demands without their constant presence and protests. Outside of the cameras and the images which have flittered in and out of our view screens from these independent sources of live feed; in the vast area of neighborhood surrounding the sleepless edges of the target area of press and protest; there's something substantial which is transcending the long-ago faded hopes that the attention and commotion from their demonstrations for justice and accountability would produce livelihoods and futures which would lift the community out of despair and provide the prosperity and self-determination promised by the politics and politicians of past and present.

Theirs is a lasting brand of hope and aspiration which will always stand and regroup long after the cynical and opportunistic blasts of smoke and gas have dissipated into the compromised air. We are fortunate to witness such courage and resilience in the face of such unbelievable and unimaginable anguish. We are inspired by it, and challenged to stand firm in our own beliefs, and to regroup our values with every deliberate diversion and deliberate distraction. We're inspired to hold fast to our own principles in the face of derision and ridicule for not adhering to some petty political motivation or motive.

Here's to this generation's patriots who doggedly place progress over the politics of the day. Here's to this new generation's defenders of liberty, freedom, and democracy! Here's to the end of the reign of this one-percent confederation of corporate interests. Here's to us!

Dude. A white woman approached in a dark parking lot in Ferguson by two panicked black men?

tweeted by, Joel D. Anderson@ blackink12 (Senior sports writer at @BuzzFeed. @PostBourgie blogger emeritus.)

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
I'm back at my hotel near the airport. Me and @JstnMchl flagged down a woman in all of that chaos who got us out of there.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
We were lost. A cop pointed a gun at us because we were running, trying to stay away from the tear gas and flash bombs behind us.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
It occurred to me those officers had no way of knowing I was media. Not that they would have cared. I had to put my hands up and move slowly

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
The cops continued to yell at us from across the street. I couldn't understand them. I just kept my hands up, & yelled at others to do same

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
I literally felt trapped. We couldn't go back. But ahead of us, cops were pointing guns and yelling inscrutable orders at us.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 4h
Everyone was confused. There was literally almost nowhere to go. We went into a parking lot, and cars were peeling off all around us

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 3h
And I guess my angel is Stacy Graham of Jerseyville, Illinois. I saw her backing up and asked her if she would give us a ride.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 3h
Dude. A white woman approached in a dark parking lot by two panicked black men? And she still told us to get on in.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 3h
Other stuff happened. But we're back at the hotel. My car and everything else is back at the McDonald's on West Florissant.

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 3h
So I guess I have to trust I can get back into Ferguson in about five hours and that nothing will happen. What should I think about that?

Joel D. Anderson @blackink12 · 3h
One final thing. As @JstnMchl said: The police are the ones making this dangerous. They risked so many lives tonight for...I don't know why


Stark, Raw Perspective From Assorted Tweets On Ferguson Sunday Night

Antonio French@AntonioFrench
Dad, Husband, Alderman of the @21stWard in St. Louis,

Retweeted by Antonio French
Mark Bland @markbland · 45s
BREAKING: SWAT team moves in on reported confrontation where #MichaelBrown was shot #Ferguson”

Retweeted by Antonio French
Alex Wroblewski @alexwroblewski · 1h
Protesters return tear gas canisters at police in #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/cHNU2LD3Ev

Retweeted by Antonio French
Alex Wroblewski @alexwroblewski · 40m
Protesters in #Ferguson after getting hit by tear gas from police pic.twitter.com/UgqDuhxBWw

Retweeted by Antonio French
Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 8m
Protestors flee scene after marching toward police command center, tear gas flying in #Ferguson #MikeBrown

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 2h
Scenes from last night in #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/cG95dhiTGH

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 29m
There is a small group of people who cannot be defined as protestors/demonstrators. They are more like fighters/rebels/insurgents. #Ferguson

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 19m
These people are not protestors. This is something different and it has little to do with #JusticeForMikeBrown.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 28m
Whenever police come to shut down West Florissant they are prepared to fight back. And they are getting more organized and coordinated.

Retweeted by Antonio French
Danny Wicentowski @D_Towski · 13m
I can see several people down canfield confronting line of police vehicles and officers. No violence, just shouting. So far.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 48s
Official curfew starts in 7 minutes. #Ferguson

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 1h
I'm safely out of the area. Saddened by tonight's events.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 1h
Our present situation is bad. The trust broken by the #Ferguson police is endangering lives. We have to repair it. Communities need police.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 1h
Each day County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch delays indicting #DarrenWilson, he is endangering citizens and delaying the rebuilding of trust.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 1h
Once there was a shooting, police had to come in. That being said, I'm troubled by tweets I'm reading saying children were gassed. #Ferguson

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 15s
Been on the phone. Just as these young people must mature into leaders quickly, #STL's black leadership must also step up. Meeting tomorrow.

Antonio French @AntonioFrench · 23m
This thing has the potential to further escalate. Black leadership in STL has a chance to avoid that. We must reach out to these men today.

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson
I rip and run. | Contributing Editor, @ANIMALNewYork | journalist | global traveler | photographer

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 34m
so we won't ever be able to see result of that standoff on Canfield Road. it will be the residents of #Ferguson word against the police.

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 37m
guess that's what happens when media watches cops live mace a guy on ground in cuffs. #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 38m
getting kicked out. will be subject to arrest. "keep going" one officer said to me. no 1 can give us name. "have goodnight sir." is answer.

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 42m
Two others arrested too...both white, one man one woman. Arrested man first she came over to us they figured it out arrested her too.

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 44m
just arrested for curfew violation. http://instagram.com/p/r1CGVKssi5/

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 48m
they just maced him .. "wipe this shit off my eyes I can't feel my fucking eyes" he's screaming. #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 48m
two men just walked past us walked into cops and were arrested for curfew violation. "just bc I'm black" #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 23m
all was quiet until sounded like bottle broke & then possible gunshot near QuickTrip... we are in middle of two diff police lines #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 35m
We've negotiated a stay. Still here just a little farther back. The standoff is still happening. #Ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 6m
total censorship right now being ordered back to the media pen bc yanno #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 11m
Police parked big empty bus that is conveniently running so now we can't hear what cops/residents are saying. #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 27m
@EddiesMind they would but cops are keeping us too far back. some here w telephoto lens will come out later

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 33m
they just pulled up tear gas truck ... looks like they're gonna has them all residents have hands in Air #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 35m
cops are in standoff on Canfield telling people to go home; they're refusing ... a car FULL to brim of people drove by taunting cops. tense

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 47m
watching. residents come out of their homes w hands up and they are lined up like a firing squad on Canfield road #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 55m
A young man flees just as assault of tear gas begins #Ferguson http://instagram.com/p/r01M5gMsip/

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 57m
Fire started in the Delwood market police tell us.

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 1h
on the front line, they fight back and return tear gas #fearguson http://instagram.com/p/r00toJssh4/

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 1h
what are they looking for? watching a huge squad of officers surround a house and they are arguing w residents on Canfield #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 2h
cops: "shots fired west Florissant and chambers. crowd running." #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 2h
street where Mike Brown was shot an influx of officers head in; some sort of standoff #ferguson http://instagram.com/p/r0wpSqMsrw/

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 2h
can't get back in there cops threatening everyone w arrest they keep bringing in more reinforcements #ferguson

Amy K. Nelson @AmyKNelson · 2h
Another journo threatened, this time it was livestreamed, on http://argusradio.com #ferguson http://instagram.com/p/r0vP8Bsso9

Clip of police in Ferguson shouting at cameraman: "get the fuck out of here [...] or you're getting shot with this!"


Robert Cohen @kodacohen
Photojournalist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 31m
Where's the LOVE? #Ferguson #MikeBrown

Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 34m
Woman helped over a wall to escape tear gas in #Ferguson #MikeBrown


Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 22m
Protestors flee scene after marching toward police command center, tear gas flying in #Ferguson #MikeBrown

Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 23m
Protestors flee scene after marching toward police command center, tear gas flying in #Ferguson #MikeBrown

Robert Cohen @kodacohen · 31m
Cassandra Roberts gassed, helped by strangers in #Ferguson #MikeBrown

Robert Cohen @kodacohen · Aug 17
A member of the Peacekeepers yells "No pictures!" as she blocks the view of a photographer. #Ferguson #MikeBrown


Lewis E. Reed@PresReed
Father of 4 great kids, husband, public servant, life long democrat, proud St. Louis City resident, President of the Board of Aldermen

Retweeted by Lewis E. Reed
Charles Jaco @charlesjaco1 · 6m
Now shots around Canfield, down West Florissant from separate police scene at Chambers. Several instances of gunfire tonight, none from cops

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 1h
Not a lot of chants of #MikeBrown from the people who remain. More just general unrest. Nowhere near as tense as before.

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 1h
I assume something similar to leave now . #Ferguson.

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 2h
Can't make out commands on speaker in #Ferguson

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 2h
#Ferguson right now. PD Appear to have removed gas masks. Hope that's a good sign pic.twitter.com/RyVZaw7XZU

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 2h
Asking people to go home and be safe. Riot geared PD moving

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 2h
At the corner of W Florissant & Chambers. Flash bangs from PD. Some families separated, trying to reconnect. #Ferguson

Lewis E. Reed @PresReed · 2h
People are leaving #Ferguson. Peacekeepers helping direct


Tef Poe/FootKlan@TefPoe
Bungalo/Universal Music Group Distribution recording artist.. featured in XXL, Unsigned Hype Source Magazine. Worked w/Killer Mike, Royce Da 5'9, I-20, GLC

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 43m
The tear gas came about out the blue a woman was grazed by bullet and things spiraled out of control

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 4m
Every single cop out there knows this is about protecting one of their own

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 4m
They're running the community into the ground and smearing Mikes name in the name of defending Darren Wilson

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 7m
This is all being done to uphold the oath they know damn well he's guilty right now it's all about protecting the oath

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 11m
Ferguson did all of this to protect a guy that's clearly guilty but they can't break the oath

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 12m
The black captain is basically the new escape goat for all of their major fuck ups

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 13m
The police no longer have any power over the black community in Ferguson it's a total shit show

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 26m
I'm speaking the real .. Kids have misplaced energy police are itching to shoot now at the slightest reasons

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 27m
No horse with this but it's time to organize impact full actions in Clayton the honeymoon was cool now let's get busy

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 28m
The dogs are gonna come out the gas is gonna come out .. It happened in the 60s and it's happening now so stand with us and help teach them

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 29m
Bring ppl they respect to the table it's time .. To get physical

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 30m
Tactically sit down and explain to there kids how we can win without them becoming moving targets

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 31m
Invite these kids to the table to talk or the insanity will continue

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 31m
We get that and that's why we're here the entire force is rogue now stand with us and combat it the right way

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 32m
We understand the police are bastards

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 33m
It's time to wake up

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 34m
None of you mugs are actually sitting down with the true ground level organizers leave the church and lead in the streets at night please

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 35m
Like flat out? Showing up getting these kids turned up to shoot at the cops and then flying back to your home city is Wack!!'

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 38m
I'm not voting for none of you mugs next election and I will do everything I can to make sure the local hip hop community demonizes you

Tef Poe/FootKlan @TefPoe · 39m
It's time to move the protest off of West flo so our kids can stop being mobile targets for the police


Patricia Bynes@Patricialicious
Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township in St Louis County in MO. A delegate for MO's 1st Congressional District.

Retweeted by Patricia Bynes
Christian Lacroix @_itsvelvet · 1h
we've had monks fly in from india. we've had gaza freedom fighters sending support in the midst of their OWN war. and we're still confused?

Retweeted by Patricia Bynes
John Butler @NewsDirKMOX · 1h
Amnesty International taking "unprecedented” steps in Ferguson. Amnesty crews on the ground now, never deployed inside U-S.

Retweeted by Patricia Bynes
Malcolm Johnson @admiralmpj · 16m
@chriskingstl @WarOnFerguson There are four forces here: Local Peaceful Protesters. Looters. Folks who want to fight cops. Cops.

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 48s
Police in riot gear at The Mobile on Chambers and W Florissant #Ferguson http://twitpic.com/eacbto

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 11m
3 SWAT trucks on corner of W Florissant and Chambers #Ferguson

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 24m
He is telling me what just happened on Chambers. This is a war zone for real #Ferguson

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 24m
Picked up a guy he needs a ride to his car #Ferguson

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 27m
The Dellwood Market on Chambers has been looted. SWAT just pulled off and people are going back in O_O #Ferguson

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 29m
So the action is on Chambers by my spot #FERGUSON

Retweeted by Patricia Bynes
Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 1h
Real shit, if you not from here...you need to go home man. People not from here coming and fucking shit up for us. We have to live here.

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 54m
Drop off good. It is too dangerous for 2 young black men to walk around the neighborhood because streets r blocked off

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 1h
Found 2 guys that need to get home. I'm dropping them off #Ferguson

Patricia Bynes @Patricialicious · 1h
It is pretty quiet out here other than the sound of a chopper and the occasional, "Turn around"


Sandor Clegane@Trap_Jesus

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 47m
Out of towners, if you come here...it's not about Mike Brown. This is about something way bigger in the St. Louis Metro Area.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 56m
I just want to live, man.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 56m
I could've stayed in Baden for this.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 59m
My mom moved me out here from the city and I thought it was the promised land. Now it's all crumbling.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 1h
Real shit, if you not from here...you need to go home man. People not from here coming and fucking shit up for us. We have to live here.

Retweeted by Sandor Clegane
Charles Jaco @charlesjaco1 · 1h
St Louis County PD says none of the 7 arrested last night are from Ferguson. "Some may" be from out of state. Dellwood Market now on fire.

Retweeted by Sandor Clegane
Bobby Scmedium Shirt @Vandalyzm · 2h
Cop just came to talk to us, warns us of Florissant. People are shooting. Folks have been stabbed and cops are being shot at on Chambers.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 2h
I don't want to live here anymore. I give up.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 3h
I don't see a way any of this can end well. I might have to pack my bags.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 3h
RT @sarahkendzior: Eyewitness told me last nights Molotov at the chop suey was thrown by white anarchist group. Been going on all week.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 3h
I don't know about the reports of Molotov cocktails..but I do know there was a shooting. That's enough reason for the crowd to be broken up.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 3h
This ain't what I wanted.

Sandor Clegane @Trap_Jesus · 3h
You got protestors...then you got the looters..then you got those who just wanna be out there and seen..then you got celebrity opportunists.


Yamiche Alcindor@Yamiche
@USATODAY national breaking news reporter who also covers social issues such as criminal justice and human trafficking.

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 9s
Johnson said authorities are looking into other ways to calm crowds. He wouldn't go into detail about what things they were considering

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 28s
Johnson said he had to ratchet up police presence tonight. "We had to act to protect lives and property." #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 1m
Johnson said protesters created makeshift barricades to stop police from going into certain areas #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 1m
Johnson said McDonald's employees had to lock themselves in a storage room around 9:20 pm because store was being overrun. #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 2m
Johnson "pre planned" acts of aggression happened tonight--shooting at police, throwing Molotov cocktails and looting of several stores

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 4m
According to police, 7 or 8 people were arrested tonight and in some cases face charges of failure to disperse. #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 5m
Johnson just said two to three people were injured tonight including someone who was shot around 8:25 pm.

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 1h
Police have blocked multiple roads as things seem to have died down. Hearing police are going to have a presser #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 22m
Police have blocked multiple roads as things seem to have died down. Hearing police are going to have a presser #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 33m
Things just got a bit quieter in #Ferguson but police armored vehicles still present

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 50m
Curfew has started and I just heard gunshots. #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 52m
Police telling people to go home. Two minutes before curfew. #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 53m
Police are urging people go home. Officers now have gas masks on and protestors are refusing to leave

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 55m
Police telling protestors to go home but people are not leaving. Five minutes before curfew goes into effect. #Ferguson

Retweeted by Yamiche Alcindor
Ryan J. Reilly @ryanjreilly · 1h
We've got a SWAT team moving into confrontation on street where #MikeBrown was shot. #Ferguson

Yamiche Alcindor @Yamiche · 1h
Bryan Jones said he felt safer running toward gun shots than police "That tells you the world is horrible." #Ferguson

U.S. broke terrorist siege of 100,000, who turned out to be 4000, who were actually 1000

. . . the dead they were worried over disappeared from the mountains as well.

Yep, they announced today they rescued from 'genocide' 50,000 to 100,000 or so Kurds who made the 10 mile walk north over the border led by Syrian fighters, and it's now 'unlikely' they'll need to drop any more food for the remaining civilians on the mountain because it appears they live there, but 'thousands' more will still need help.

'Of those still there, as many as half appeared to be permanent residents or did not want to leave . . . Of those who still wanted to go, 90 per cent were leaving by truck, the assessment team found.'

But their airstrikes did break the siege by the Islamic militants with about half the targets connected to the humanitarian mission and it will require much more aggressive bombing from the U.S. to break the siege of Sinjar and end the humanitarian crisis the U.S. now says is unlikely.

'Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said late Wednesday that the situation was no longer as bad as anyone thought. There are now only about 5,000 civilians on the mountain, and they are in "better condition than previously believed," according to Hagel's statement.'

All of that progress, no doubt due to the 130 'advisers' they just sent to 'assess' the humanitarian crisis that the only 20 or so Special Forces they actually sent to the mountain to evaluate the rescue (floating several inches above the soil, per the president's order that they not put boots on the ground) declared a success. Now "the majority" of the 129 military advisers they deployed to Irbil to help plan aid operations for the rescue of the non-existent refugees on the mountain will soon depart Iraq.

'U.S. officials believe that reports of U.S. airstrikes (not necessarily actual airstrikes, but airstrikes in the south) and the food drops gave Yazidis who had fled to the mountains (to the north) confidence that they could safely leave.'

"We're going to be working with our international partners to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities and we can carry out effective missions like the one we carried out on Mount Sinjar without committing combat troops on the ground," Obama said in a statement.

'Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to say whether and where any future U.S. air strikes in Iraq might take place, but said Obama had authorized the use of strikes to protect U.S. personnel anywhere in Iraq.'

'On Thursday, some of the most senior U.S. intelligence experts on terrorism briefed reporters in detail on the Islamic State group. They described a battle-hardened, well-funded terrorist organization that is bent on governing the territory it has seized in Syria and Iraq while also encouraging attacks in Europe and the United States.'

"The fighting is very heavy at times and the Americans have helped with some airstrikes, but there have not been many," said Hamid, a militia commander who was one of hundreds of Syrian Kurds who crossed into Iraq to help battle the Islamic State near Sinjar. He agreed to speak but asked that only his first name be used.

On a break back in Syria, where he was reached by phone, Hamid said U.S. bombing strikes had provided only limited assistance.

"They helped us clear a path for the refugees, but it will not be enough to remove Daash from the area," he said, using the disparaging Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. "With more bombings we could liberate Sinjar and they could all go home."

Mission accomplished.

*satire* (text in 'italics' from actual reports)

sources for this bigtree special report:

Obama says Sinjar siege broken, some personnel to leave Iraq

Obama says Yazidi mission in northern Iraq accomplished

Obama: No Iraq rescue; further airdrops unlikely


130 More U.S. Troops to Iraq...There's Always Going to be an Excuse - This is Classic

. . . escalation.

I don't know that the President is slowly ratcheting the military presence in Iraq deliberately, with full knowledge that was going to be the end result of his first handful of troops. Maybe he's sincere that the mission he first envisioned and sold to the American people just happened to change so dramatically from defense of the embassy; directing and training Iraqi troops; to ordering direct attacks from our own warplanes.

Thing is, he's either hopelessly naive about the course of deployments into the middle of the civil strife of nations divided within themselves; he may indeed be malleable and easily manipulated by the pack of Bush-era hawks and dinosaurs in the Pentagon and his intelligence agencies; or he's just a goddamn liar.

Why should anyone believe anything he says regarding military deployments and activity in Iraq? He either is too ignorant to understand what he's committed the U.S. to in that country; or he's just plain bullshitting us.

After all, it's not as if this is some new reality that was somehow unspoken by opponents of the original plan to re-insert American troops there . . . and he's still calling them 'advisers.' Special forces deployed in a war zone aren't 'boots on the ground?' What, does he think... that they're floating in mid-air?

We've been played for fools, and anyone who supports this incremental escalation will have no room to argue when this escalation implodes in our faces. Give the military and the CIA an inch and they'll take a mile.

The Kurdish civilians have had an incredibly tragic experience. No one looking at their plight should be sanguine or indifferent to their plight. But the U.S. has no business re-introducing military forces there. We've done more than enough damage to their country. I'm not just talking about the 'shock and awe' of Bush's scatterbombing; I'm not just talking about the mass detentions without charge or trial -or the torturing and renditions.

I'm talking about the blowback - the counterproductive effect of our troop's mere presence which has already been demonstrated beyond any doubt to fuel and foster more resistant violence than it's able to put down.

Is there any more convincing measure of the folly of supporting this than the very fact that nothing our forces have done so far there has caused the military to assert that we're making any progress at all in putting down what they first called a rag-tag handful of insurgents? Don't tell me that more troops are the answer. Did a full scale occupation under Bush protect and defend civilians there any better?

Did we miss the horror of civilian killings all around our occupying troops under Bush; all with orders to attack and kill opponents at will? Did we miss the Iraqi family members who lined the river every day to watch the steady flow of dead and bloated bodies in the sad and awful expectation that they could identify one as their own kin?

Is there any more proof of the utter ignorance of a unilateral, escalated U.S. deployment than the virtual silence from the vast majority of the former 'coalition of willing' partners in our opportunistic imperialism?

Damn this president for taking our country back into war in Iraq. Damn him.

President Obama, left, meets with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Tuesday Aug. 12 -Pete Souza

15 hours ago -John Kerry Says U.S. Doesn't Plan to Send More Troops to Iraq

Aug 12, 2014, 10:06 PM - US Sends 130 More Troops to Iraq

Amnesty Intl: "This is not the Bush administration, this is torture happening under Obama"

(I took this down last night in GD to make room for the Williams death reports - posting it here to keep it for reference)

Amnesty Intl: "This is not the Bush administration, this is torture happening under Obama"
Noah Shachtman ‏@NoahShachtman 1h

US concealed evidence of troops' war crimes as recently as last year, according to a brutal new Amnesty Intl report. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/11/amnesty-us-concealed-troops-war-crimes-in-afghanistan-as-recently-as-last-year.html

____ The U.S. military has systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes, torture, and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year, according to a report by Amnesty International published today in Kabul.

The human rights organization alleges that the U.S. military has routinely failed to properly investigate reports of criminal behavior and, in some instances, tampered with evidence to conceal wrongdoing. On the rare occasions when servicemen are held to account, the report found that the compromised military justice system seldom secured justice for the victims of enforced disappearances, killings, and abuse that included torture.

“President Obama has admitted that ‘we tortured’ people in the past—but this is not the Bush administration, this is torture happening under Obama,” said Joanne Mariner, the author of the report.

While torture and other abuses by the CIA and the military were sanctioned by the Bush administration, Obama entered office vowing to end such practices. There have been a number of prosecutions and punishments of military units that have committed crimes and atrocities in Afghanistan under Obama, but Amnesty says the White House has to do more to ensure his policy changes are respected in the field.

read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/11/amnesty-us-concealed-troops-war-crimes-in-afghanistan-as-recently-as-last-year.html


AmnestyInternational ‏@AmnestyOnline 20m
#Afghanistan: No justice for thousands of civilians killed in #US /NATO operations http://bit.ly/1owxqyG #humanrights

The families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released today. Focusing primarily on air strikes and night raids carried out by US forces, including Special Operations Forces, Left in the Dark finds that even apparent war crimes have gone uninvestigated and unpunished.

“Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

“None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

The report documents in detail the failures of accountability for US military operations in Afghanistan. It calls on the Afghan government to ensure that accountability for unlawful civilian killings is guaranteed in any future bilateral security agreements signed with NATO and the United States.

Amnesty International conducted detailed investigations of 10 incidents that took place between 2009 and 2013, in which civilians were killed by US military operations. At least 140 civilians were killed in the incidents that Amnesty International investigated, including pregnant women and at least 50 children. The organization interviewed some 125 witnesses, victims and family members, including many who had never given testimony to anyone before . . .

read more: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/afghanistan-no-justice-thousands-civilians-killed-usnato-operations-2014-08-11
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