Tensions Rise Again In Ferguson | St. Louis Public Radio

Tensions Rise Again In Ferguson

Sep 20, 2014

Updated at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21 to include further details about the three arrests.

Shouts turned to shoves during a skirmish Saturday at the Ferguson Farmers Market.

According to reports from protesters and police, Brown supporters were holding a demonstration at the farmers market when some protesters began exchanging heated words with a group of shoppers and farmers.

Protester Shirlissa Pruitt says a man assaulted her during the skirmish.

Shirlissa Pruitt protesting on South Florissant shortly after the skirmish at Ferguson Farmers Market where she says a man grabbed her phone out of her hand.
Credit Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

“He reached in and smacked my face and snatched my phone from me while he’s issuing out these racially charged slurs, telling us we need to go home,” Pruitt said. “There was plenty of police presence there, and they did nothing. They didn’t aid in the break-up of the dispute that escalated after my phone was taken from me, and they didn’t arrest (the man who took it).”

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was at the farmers market when the skirmish occurred. He said angry words were exchanged between a group of protesters and some shopkeepers and customers who wanted them to leave.

“Tempers got heated up a little bit; there was some pushing and shoving. Nobody got seriously hurt or anything,” Jackson said, adding that no arrests were made because they were able to separate the two groups.

Jackson said people on both sides of the skirmish have complained of assault, and those complaints are under investigation.

Angered by what they said was an unfair and insufficient police response, protesters moved their demonstrations further down South Florissant Rd.

Protester Paul Muhammad said they wanted to make their presence felt but keep things peaceful because they have a bigger purpose than creating discord.

“I try myself to stay clear and not even focus on that because we’re here for a bigger reason, a bigger mission. And it’s just to deter and actually affect the economics of this business strip to make the people in the community uncomfortable … to make them aware of a bigger issue of injustice, of mishandling and misconduct,” Muhammad said. “If you’re a human being and you agree that some wrong took place, your voice needs to be heard. You need to take a stance.”

Like Pruitt, Muhammad is a member of the black-shirted peacekeeping group that was a stabilizing presence when protests turned violent last month.

The driver of the car protesters say tried to run them over is arrested. He is wearing the yellow shirt.
Credit Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters had a second run-in a little after 1 p.m., this time in the street with a man in a car who they say tried to run them over. Police responded to the scene and first moved to arrest a protester. Other protesters surrounded the man and attempted to stop the arrest.

After a woman showed Chief Jackson a video of the run-in, the driver was also arrested.

All told, three people were arrested. Jackson says no one will be formally charged until the prosecutor looks at the cases on Monday. According to Jackson, one protester was arrested for failure to disperse, the other for allegedly damaging the driver's car.

Meanwhile, at other locations throughout the city, the I Love Ferguson committee raised money for small businesses damaged during the riots last month by selling shirts and signs. The group also collected donations for area food pantries and schools.

Long-time Ferguson resident Tana Cofer says she is helping to raise money for small businesses that were damaged because she wants them to stay in the community.
Credit Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.