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RFT, Intercept Writers Discuss The Story Of Olajuwon Davis, A Ferguson Protester Ensnared By The FBI

Journalists Trevor Aaronson (at left) and Danny Wicentowski both joined Wednesday's talk show.
Trevor Aaronson & St. Louis Public Radio

"How has the death of Michael Brown Jr. impacted your life?" That's among the questions that the St. Louis Public Radio community and people throughout the region have been pondering in recent days in light of the five-year anniversary of the Ferguson protests. The answers are myriad, but Olajuwon Davis’ certainly stands out in the crowd: He’s spent most of his life since that time in prison.

How and why Davis’ life changed so drastically in the wake of Brown’s death is the focus of a newly published report by the Riverfront Times’ Danny Wicentowski. In it, Wicentowski details everything from the moment Davis, then a member of the New Black Panther Party, first became active in Ferguson to his arrest and conviction in an FBI sting for “planning and conspiring to ignite explosive devices” among other charges. Prosecutors would allege he and his alleged co-conspirator Brandon Baldwin sought to blow up the Gateway Arch.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske discussed Davis’ prosecution with Wicentowski and with Trevor Aaronson, who is a contributor to The Intercept and the author of “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism.”

As Wicentowski’s story details, prosecutors never presented evidence that Davis and Ballwin had the capability, much less the intent, to blow up the Arch. And while the FBI has warned about a rise in “black identity extremism,” to date, the pair represent the only federal prosecutions of “black identity extremists” to result in a conviction.

Read Wicentowski's piece in the RFT, and listen to the on-air discussion:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Alexis Moore. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.