Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

All Hell!

“I rolled the heavy iron gate closed behind me, locked up the property, and drove off, utterly unaware of the world-reaching calamity that was brewing less than a quarter mile away. . . .”

A #Ferguson Story, Continued

I ignored the notifications from my cell phone that Sunday morning. After all, I would be answering a 5 am alarm Monda54071f65c2da1.preview-620y through Friday for the next ten months, so I dismissed the bells and whistles sounding from my phone and slept in. Prolly just spam from my bank, I thought.

          When I finally rolled over at 11 o’clock, I found two distressing emails. The first was from a coworker:

Did you hear about this? These apartments are right behind your center.

FERGUSON, Mo. — The fatal shooting of a black teenager by police sent hundreds of angry residents out of their apartments Saturday in a St. Louis suburb, igniting shouts of “kill the police” during a confrontation that lasted several hours. The shooting occurred around noon Saturday at the Canfield Green Apartment complex. Ferguson police confirmed it was one of their officers who opened fire. . . . Family members identified the shooting victim as 18-year-old Michael Brown. . . . .

          The other was from my boss:

We need to monitor the news today about the shooting near our center on West Florissant. If it is safe, we need to be there before 7 in the morning to assess the situation. If it is not safe, we need to be prepared to make other plans.

          OMG! What did I miss yesterday? I thought. After having put in a long six-day week preparing for the first day of school, I kicked back, went to a movie, and – evidently – insulated myself from all media. I had even left my laptop at work being that I had no intention of doing any work until I reported to the center Monday morning.

 582-1tQv5h.AuSt.55        I scoured the Internet for more information. It seems that I pulled out of work Saturday afternoon about 15 minutes before things started to get hairy. One article included a photo of irate protesters confronting a line of police officers at Red’s Barbecue, a landmark of sorts, just across the street. Another pic showed highway patrol cars lined bumper to bumper along the metal fence that surrounded our lot. I read about the incident from the sites of national news organizations. Some accounts estimated nearly 600 protesters showing up at the scene as Michael Brown’s body lay in the street for more than four hours in the very neighborhood where many of my students lived. It was surreal.

          Updates – any new information — were scarce throughout the day. I spoke to my boss and my teachers, who were already aware of the situation and had been texting each other throughout the day. I did my best to reassure them, even though the situation was in a precarious state of flux.

       I heard there was to be a candlelight vigil that evening and had considered going. After all, our school was a part of the community, and I always believed in becoming personally involved in things that were important to the people we serve. My wife intuitively sensed my deliberations, however, and made me promise not to go. Despite my confidence I could go into the neighborhood without fear of harm, she would be scared to death. Perhaps I should trust her misgivings, I thought.

         School was canceled at my site at the first sign of violence at 8:30 pm. A police cruiser had been overturned and there were reports of white people being beat up just for being white, a report that I never confirmed. A peaceful prayer vigil had given way to a violent outpouring of anger in the streets.

            I began calling my students as I watched live coverage of neighborhood businesses being looted and vandalized. Everything was familiar to me, being that I had spent the better part of the past year within the very same environs.

 QT looting           I watched in disbelief as the QuikTrip I frequented two doors down from my center was being ripped apart from the inside out. Masked marauders vaulted the counter, beat open the cash register, and tipped over the hot dog grills. One character could be seen entering the premises shooting off a pair of Roman candles, arms crossed in the air above him. Soon, others spilled in, opportunistically taking helping themselves to anything and everything, especially liquor and cigarettes.

          News crews captured zoom footage of Sam’s Meat Market being smashed and looted as if it were being filmed from our front gate. The Autozone down towards Chambers Rd. was being hit. The local media showed security cam shots of looters smashing Zisser Tire and Auto and running out with choice rims. The Taco Bell where I waited out a graduation-night downpour had its windows smashed as did the cell phone store where I used to make deliveries while I was in college. The Ferguson Market, the dollar storeZisser and several beauty supply stores were victimized as well. Liquor, braids, sports attire, and electronics were choice targets of the looters.

          Absent from all this live action was footage of my center. It was as if it was in a media blind spot, given it was somewhat dark and inconspicuous.

          I was really worried. Were people to know that the place was full of computers, they will probably break in and smash the place up. My laptop was sitting on my desk right by one of the plate glass windows. Personal belongings, such as furniture, appliances, and photographs, were at risk as well. Although the grounds were surrounded by an iron fence, the gates were easily surmountable, as I had learned from experience. We purposely kept the place in a nondescript condition hoping to avoid unnecessary attention. Perhaps this would play in our favor.

        As the night wore on, the looting spread to other neighborhoods. News crews would film police arresting looters, only to have more emerge from the darkness just as soon as the cruisers drove off with suspects. Meanwhile, back on West Florissant, the QuikTrip was immersed in flames.

To be continued.


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