Missouri National Guard Ordered To Ferguson To Restore Peace
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Good morning. Here is the latest from Ferguson, Missouri, the community still reeling after an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot by police.
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
There were more protests and more tear gas last night.
GREENE: Missouri's governor, Jay Nixon, has ordered the National Guard to help restore order. And the town is under a state of emergency and a midnight curfew.
MCEVERS: Also last night, an independent autopsy report revealed that Michael Brown was shot at least six times - twice in the head.
GREENE: Now, despite the escalating tension, the public schools in Ferguson were scheduled to open today for the fall semester. But they're remaining shut. Parents are hoping that getting back to the school routine soon will give Ferguson kids and perhaps their parents a breather from the tumultuous times gripping this town. Frank Morris from member station KCUR reports.
FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: Last night at 11, you could play kick-the-can with smoke and teargas canisters right in the middle of the busiest protest street in Ferguson. It was eerily quiet, but only because the nightly confrontation with police had exploded hours earlier than normal. Protesters, including small children, fled when police fired tear gas responding to pops they took to be gunfire. But some residents described it as fireworks. And one who would only give his nickname, Bubba, said they felt like they were being intentionally humiliated.
BUBBA: You know what happens when you back a dog in the corner. He's going to act out, and he's going to bite you aggressively. You can't treat people like animals. Treat people how you want to be treated. That's the golden rule, I thought. So if they don't want to honor the golden rule, well, then the result is going to be the actions that you see.
MORRIS: Looters torched a store just outside of Ferguson. But earlier in the evening, a mile from the tense, noisy standoffs and just down the street from the burned markets, something entirely different was going on.
MELISSA FITZGERALD: OK, guys, we're going to put our signs right over there, and Kyle's grabbing some sidewalk chalk.
MORRIS: Melissa Fitzgerald and about 20 volunteer parents and kids are decorating Griffith Elementary with hand-made signs in anticipation of school opening today. They've done the same thing for every school in the district this year.
FITZGERALD: You know, we just want our kids to have a good first day of school. Our first day of school is going to be special and exciting and really fun.
MORRIS: Because what's been going on Ferguson lately hasn't been.
FITZGERALD: It's scary. I mean, this is not a normal situation.
MORRIS: Psychologist Marva Robinson has been working with young people in the neighborhood where Michael Brown was shot and others living near the protests. She says it's the type of thing that can really shake a kid's world.
MARVA ROBINSON: If that is viewing a tornado take your home away or viewing military tanks roll into your town and pointing guns at you saying that you can't come outside, it's that same sort of gut-wrenching feeling that our children suffer from.
MORRIS: And there are a lot of kids living near the battleground in Ferguson.
DENNIS JETHROE: You want some water?
HARLEM: No. I want something to eat.
MORRIS: Dennis Jethroe is taking his 4-year-old son, Harlem, from their home here, a couple of blocks over, to see the burned-out convenience store where the boy's treats used to come from - important education for a young African-American boy, according to Jethroe.
JETHROE: It's like, I'm going to be protecting my family, going to be protected. But I just fear for him as he gets older. That's why I'm trying to show him these things. It can happen. It can be that fast. You could put on your shoes and clothes in the morning and don't even make it home at night. Yeah.
MORRIS: If that sounds a little grim, Jethroe's got plenty of company in Ferguson these days.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHANTING)
MORRIS: Like a lot of people at this enormous and very peaceful rally featuring Reverend Al Sharpton yesterday. Angela Bradley tells the story of facing terror when one of the nightly protests turned bad.
ANGELA BRADLEY: I was running. I was praying for my life. I was - at first, I was running alongside a white journalist and we were, like, headed towards one side-street, and then he ended up across the street. I almost got hit by a car. So then I turned around the other way. The smoke was so thick where we were that I couldn't really see. So I'm coughing and gagging and putting my shirt over my head at the same time.
MORRIS: Bright lights flashed, and she says she was looking down police gun barrels.
BRADLEY: The immediate thought that came in my mind was my children were at home and I was just - I just turned around and just ran in the other direction, and it was chaos. It was chaotic.
ROBINSON: Definitely, that is a classic example of trauma.
MORRIS: And Marva Robinson says Ferguson and the people here are going to be dealing with this summer's trauma for a long time. For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Ferguson, Missouri. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.