Photographers' Blog

A moment of stillness

Ferguson, Missouri
By Adrees Latif

A man is doused with milk and sprayed with mist after being hit by an eye irritant from security forces trying to disperse demonstrators protesting against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

I was on holiday and far away from Ferguson, Missouri, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a policeman in the town.

The killing of this unarmed black teenager on August 9 sparked huge protests, and by the time I arrived the demonstrations had been going for well over a week.

Before I got there, clashes between protesters and police had been intense, with tear gas being fired at demonstrators, some of whom let fly rocks, bottles and more. But when I got to Ferguson late evening on August 19, the unrest had started to calm down.

As the evening rolled past midnight, I saw one man among the crowd who looked particularly agitated. He seemed to be a local resident, very upset with the police, and people were holding him back as he yelled towards the officers. As he kept shouting, the police targeted him with some kind of eye irritant – it looked like pepper spray.

He wasn’t very close, but they got him right in the eye and his friends immediately pulled him to a parking lot nearby, where they poured milk on his face to flush away the effects of the spray.

Covering the Ferguson unrest

Ferguson, Missouri
By Mario Anzuoni
 
At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, August 11 my phone rang.
 
I was told to pack my riot gear and head to Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis in Missouri, to cover unrest that had broken out there following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer.

A makeshift memorial is pictured where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)

The situation in Ferguson was fluid and extremely tense, especially around a convenience store that had been looted and burned over the weekend. Minutes away from where the shooting took place, this store had become the epicenter of the protest.

A destroyed QuikTrip store is pictured in the background as demonstrators hold signs while protesting the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. The QuikTrip store was burned during rioting that followed a vigil for Brown, according to local media. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni  (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
 
I understood the dynamics of the unrest quite quickly. During the day people would gather peacefully by the convenience store and everything looked and felt relatively under control.
 
There were families, young kids and even a man who, despite his 92 years, was holding signs in the middle of the street, joining in with the demonstration.

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