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Lightning brightens the sky in the background as women hold a placard while protesting the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 20, 2014. A thunderstorm and heavy rains struck just after dark, scattering demonstrat
Brandon Fish, a Charleston, SC veteran activist, has completed a Fund Me supported 20 hour Greyhound bus trip from the Holy City to Ferguson, MO where he may be the only activist from the Palmetto State present.  Here is his first report, in full, from the ground there.  You can follow Brandon's updates on Facebook.  You can support his efforts there with an online donation.

You can also follow his Facebook Page Justice for Mike Brown - Charleston

Brandon Fish
Alright folks, I am sorry for the social media blackout. My charmingly shitty hotel has an internet connection that makes a man want to break things. Also, I've just figured out that I won't be able to post any of the photos I took yesterday until I get home, because my tablet does not seem to handle RAW files. I will try to post some video I took yesterday a little later.

Yesterday I arrived and hit the ground running. I got in to STL, after a 20 hour bus trip, and it took another hour and a half to get to Ferguson. I was pretty concerned when I first got into STL, as nobody downtown seemed to know or want to tell me how to get to Ferguson. Google told me how to get there, though, and I headed straight for St. Mark's church, where much of the protest organizing takes place. There I met people from all over the country, was given NLG training, and taken along to do a walking tour of West Florrisant (the street where all the action is) and the location of the Mike Brown shooting, now home to a mid-road memorial.

A girl holds a sign during a peaceful demonstration, as communities react to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 14, 2014. Missouri's governor Jay Nixon moved on Thursday to calm days of racially charged protests over the police sho
I need to say that I have been surprised and moved by the welcoming, hospitable, warm residents of Ferguson, who are happy to see people come to stand with them in this tumultuous time. Fergusonians stand on W. Florrisant all day, handing out cold water to protesters and passers-by. A particularly amazing man works all day and night cooking hot dogs and chicken on a mobile grill set-up to give to protesters for free. He told me that he started handing out the food out of his own pocket, but that people became inspired, and now much of the food he hands out is donated from other community members and churches. His goal is to feed 10,000 people, like Jesus with the fish, and he's almost there. Many residents who I spoke too told me that I had to come to this event or that one, and I was invited by more than one to attend Mike Brown's funeral. Media representations of Ferguson being unwelcome to outsiders was proved to be false, at least for me. They're some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

Some people have worn out their welcome here. Journalists have swarmed into Ferguson and many have treated Ferguson, its residents, and the protesters with immense disrespect. They crowd around people, push and shove, sneak pictures of people who have asked not to be photographed, have rented properties on the street and shut them off to residents, and have presented events in a slanted, jumbled way. Journalist is a four letter word here, and I have already more than once had to prove that I'm not a journalist before people would speak openly with me. The other group of people that are unwelcome to many residents are the Revolutionary Communist Party. Their goal in Ferguson is to create violent chaos, leading to a Communist revolution. They hijack marches, lead people into confrontations with police officers, and reek of fake concern for the people of Ferguson.

Last night, at about 7, after an orientation from the local organizer, I tagged along with NLG, keeping an eye on protester-police interactions and police presence in general. We walked from 7 til 2:00 am. It was damn near 100 degrees all day, and coming off a 20 hour bus trip and no sleep, and wearing the wrong shoes, your boy was falling apart, but I did my best to keep up. The RCP repeatedly rallied people into confrontational situations with the cops, despite little kids running in and out of the crowd, despite repeated pleas from Peacekeepers, clergy, nation of islam brothers, ad locals to chill out. Some locals did follow the RCP, as they shout crowd-pleasing rhetoric instead of Communist philosophy. There were several times throughout the night when police and protesters seemed like they were about to clash, but I must say, at least last night, the police showed some restraint. My theory is that there were feds in the crowd around the RCP, so the local cops stood down.

Needless to say, when got a ride back to the hotel at 2:30, my body was aching, I was dehydrated, and everything I own was drenched in sweat (still is). I apologize for the lack of updates, but yesterday I wanted to hit the ground running. I told everyone that people in Charleston were pulling for them, and I didn't want to be a slack representative, so I went hard. People are here from all over, mostly the bordering states, but I reckon I'm the only one from SC. I've got so much more to tell yall about the people I met yesterday, but you and I will have to settle for the above for now. Today am going to switch my cam to jpegs so I can more easily upload pics.

Doing my best to represent your care and concern for the people of Ferguson,
>Brandon

Editor's Note- The Daily Kos photobank images used with this post aren't from Brandon, who is an excellent photographer, but as his report notes, he'll be sharing images as his visit continues.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (30+ / 0-)

    William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com. I also coordinate a local public tranist advocacy effort http://hungryneckstraphangers.com/

    by wjhamilton29464 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 10:52:48 AM PDT

  •  ask about the shell casings. Give us impressions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cowdab, Ginny in CO

    I'm curious if residents who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting closely observed the investigators who gathered up the shell casings from the street.  

    From what I can tell based on examining photos and video from the aftermath, the two volleys that ear-witnesses and eyewitnesses described came at the start and end of an aprox 125 foot long foot chase.  

    If you go to the scene of the killing, look for the yellow fire hydrant by a storm drain.  This is where I think the SUV reversed and stopped, according to photos and videos.  Then look SE down to a slight curve in the sidewalk opposite a roundish hot tub sized bush.  This is how far Mike Brown ran before he was gunned down.  It's like a 40 yard dash.  

    I'd be curious to hear your general impressions about the lay of the land.  We here in laptop land haven't been there.  

    If I were there I'd want find someone who could speak to the aspects of the police investigation of the shooting.  Did they seem thorough?  Was evidence marked and photographed carefully?  Did anyone count the number of shell casings the cops found, or see them collect anything from inside Wilson's SUV?

    We have to face the prospect of a police force that has acted without transparency, and is presenting accounts behind the curtain of a secret grand jury at present.  Police have not said how many shots Ofc. Wilson fired.  Brown was hit at least six times.  More importantly, where he fired from seems germane to the discussion.  

    I'm looking to the community, to the people for the answers and the solution here.  The eyewitnesses have stories that seem to corroborate the evidence we have been able to hear about.  The media and the cops repeat misinformation and it's hard to put faith there.  Thanks for posting.  Good luck.  

    •  This has been my burning question. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ginny in CO, willisnewton

      How many shots fired and where from? If police were picking up casings before they were marked, numbered and photographed, they were tampering.  My guess that whatever was in the police car lost any value when it left the "crime scene."  I watch TV enough to know those basic rules.

      If the location of the casings were recorded they should give some indication as to the proximity Wilson was to the victim.

      "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

      by cowdab on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 03:03:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  StLco cops went through the motions at least (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kaliope

        Since they have zero transparency, we can't know what level of credibility we can assign to the investigation that the St Louis County PD did at the scene of the killing of Mike Brown.  But if you look at the local news video reports of the immediate aftermath, you will see that they placed some traffic cones around in a pattern that looks like the typical crime scene investigation.  

        There is one cluster of cones near an SUV that at times has a yellow crime tape over the roof and around the doors, as though to seal the vehicle.  Among this cluster is the hat Mike wore, lost in the altercation at the window, seemingly.  

        Another cluster seems to be maybe 3/4 to 4/5ths of the way to the body.  The body of Mike Brown by may google maps estimate is around 125 SE of the SUV that seems to be Wilson's.  

        It takes a while to make sense of the scene, there are so many cop cars blocking things.  But this photo seems to show a lot, if you get that the SUV with the tape is Wilsons, and that way behind it lies the body, past the trio of cones that lack white stripes on them.

        https://www.flickr.com/...

        and this one, too sadly is the only one I can find that shows proximity of SUV to body.  The barely visible cones at the far end of the street may be where the final fatal shot(s) were fired from, more or less.

        https://www.flickr.com/...

        sorry to hijack this thread.  it seems lonely, however.  

  •  Welcome to St. Louis, Brother! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaliope

    Happy to have you here.  Thanks for taking the effort to come personally to let the people of South Carolina and others know what you see here.  That news about the RCP is new to me.  I had not seen that reported anywhere before.  

  •  The RCP reference blew right past me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaliope

    I am wondering how that is substantiated, how many, where are they from, who said they are here; and are they verbalizing this plot as their goal or is that supposition?  

    It sounds rather inflammatory, although I don't think you meant it to.  Seems you are very thorough in gathering information.  Explanation of the crime scene is thorough also as I'm sure it is hard to put together.

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by cowdab on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 07:40:28 PM PDT

  •  Can't Respond (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaliope

    I posted this for Brandon on my blog.  I'm not in Ferguson, so I can't answer your questions.  You can use the links to reach him directly.

    William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com. I also coordinate a local public tranist advocacy effort http://hungryneckstraphangers.com/

    by wjhamilton29464 on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 09:29:44 PM PDT

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