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Ferguson coffee shop was tear-gassed by armored vehicle

Human Rights Watch:

2. In particular, there was an incident where several of our Amnesty observers were at MoKaBe’s coffee shop, a designated safe house for activists, which was tear gassed by the police. Amnesty staff were inside MoKaBe’s coffeehouse along with several dozen other protesters and community members. The coffee shop was distributing free coffee and hot chocolate to those who needed a quiet and welcoming place to gather or refresh themselves. It was staffed by community volunteers and clergy. There was a small protest taking place in the street outside, but it was peaceful. At approximately 1:00am, a large militarized police vehicle sped around the corner and fired tear gas and undetermined projectiles at the people running from the protests, hitting one in the back. The police then turned to MoKaBe’s and fired on the building. Amnesty International staff inside MoKaBe directly observed the entire interaction. 

The police again fired tear gas several minutes later, despite the presence of two Amnesty monitors clearly marked with bright yellow “human rights observer” T-shirts. The patrons, including people who came outside to recover from the initial tear gas and some children, were overcome with gas. There was no evident provocation for this action and no prior warning to disperse. One Amnesty observer was struck with three or four projectiles of unknown composition. Meanwhile, a column of police in riot gear lined up in a column outside, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the coffee shop for approximately 20 minutes.

Well now, that's interesting, isn't it?

I guess I'm less interested in the part where the armored vehicle tear gases small children -- that sort of thing happens every day -- then again why the armored vehicle (whose?) targeted MoKaBe's cafe.

Because when I think of a cafe, I think first of power, and then of WiFi; in other words, of communication.

So, speculating freely, perhaps the cops -- or whoever -- thought they were taking out an enemy command post (as indeed they may have been, for some definition of enemy). And then the question would become, how did they know to target MoKaBe's? Just on general principles, or something more specific, like an IP address or a cellphone inside the cafe? If so, how would they have gotten it?

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Submitted by EGrise on

I'd be very much surprised if the NSA wasn't providing support to the assorted police agencies in Ferguson, probably through a DHS liaison. I know the FBI considers Amnesty International = hippie communist terrorists, so it wouldn't be a stretch to think the NSA probably keeps a list of all such "activists", got a hit on one of their MAC addresses or the like, and forwarded the coordinates to the shock troops.

Then again, DOJ and DHS have been training local LE agencies on counter-protestor tactics for years, which includes (as you alluded to) taking out communications infrastructure, shutting down local mobile phone cells, blocking/jamming radio signals, etc. so the cops may have done it entirely on their own.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

that Ferguson was being used as a test for future civil uprisings. Nothing would be beyond them at this point.

ION, I went to a Ferguson protest march last night at the local university campus. What a great bunch of kids. Though it was very much a non-violent exercise, one of the speakers pointed out that MLK might not have had the effect that he did without Malcom X in the background. I had to agree. I think they are going to need some (meaner?, harder? not really the right words) kids at some point as well. But, really, what a great bunch of kids. I was very proud of them.

Submitted by lambert on

I think back to Tahrir square, where "when push came to shove," the insurgents had won the right to violence through non-violence. (I'm an advocate of strategic non-violence, not a Ghandian).

I think for real change (defined as, say, the 12 Points) you need not 50% + 1 (which is what both legacy parties are trying to do) but 100% - 0.01% - 10% call it 80%, which is what it took to overthrow Mubarak. You also need to know what comes next, which the Egyptian protesters did not.

I think it would be a tragegy if a city or two got torched and the outcome was, say, some civilian review boards.

Not fair, I know, but there it is. But I know the pride feeling. Me too. Rooting for them, doing what I can in my own small way.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

What a shameful exercise, subsidized with our tax dollars.

Anyway, I am not aware of any real change that was not spurred by at least the threat of violence. Tiananmen Square is the future of non-violent protest, I'm afraid. Which does not in any way depreciate my views of those who try it.

The bravest people aren't usually the ones holding the guns.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Which is not to say that I don't think I will be pleased when Wilson buys a bullet. Or six. I guess I am just not evolved enough not to think that there is something to the eye for an eye concept (born in the Bible belt, after all). Deterrence is a powerful weapon, which is why the newlywed is now hiding out behind his off-duty officer corps until the FBI can relocate him to Cheney's undisclosed location. All cowards together; big men when it comes to the lives of others.

To be clear, I am not advocating his assassination, merely expecting it...as do he and his bodyguards, apparently. When they feel the need to hide, at least you know an impression has been made.