On Saturday, Aug. 9, an unarmed 18-year-old black man named Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Since then, the movement seeking justice for his death has grown, as has the police response. First the County took over, then the State Highway Patrol. A curfew has been instituted and dropped. The National Guard has been called in, as has the Department of Justice. What's going on in Ferguson now extends beyond its borders. But let's start there.
Ferguson is a suburb of St. Louis, located in St. Louis County. The metropolitan area has around 2.8 million people. St. Louis County is home to about 1 million. Ferguson has about 21,000 people.
Census data show that Ferguson is younger than the St. Louis County average: Ferguson's median age is around 34 years old, while St. Louis County's is nearly 40. African Americans make up about two-thirds of Ferguson's population, while only about one-quarter of St. Louis County's population is black. Read more about the basics of Ferguson and St. Louis County’s population.
According to police reports, at around 11:50 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, an officer responded to a sick case on Glenark Drive in Ferguson. The unit was cleared and the event was closed at seven seconds after noon, according to the reports. At a press conference on Friday, Aug. 15, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Officer Darren Wilson responded to a sick case shortly before the confrontation leading to Brown's death.
Ferguson police at the Friday news conference also produced a police report and security camera video showing a person appearing to be Michael Brown involved in what they called "strong-arm robbery." According to the report, witnesses at the scene told responding officers that Brown and another man walked north on West Florissant after leaving the store. The report said the incident lasted from 11:52:58 a.m. to 11:54 according to timestamps on the security camera video.
Details are scant on the shooting (including this approximate location). Both police and witnesses say Wilson initially contacted Brown because he was walking in the street. From there, accounts diverge. Witnesses say Brown was surrendering with his hands up when he was shot. Police say he assaulted Wilson. Preliminary autopsy results show Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head. According to police, the shooting scene became difficult to manage, with reports of more shots being fired from nearby.
On Sunday, more people started taking notice. Jon Belmar, the County police chief, held a press conference. Peaceful protests are held at the site of the shooting and at the Ferguson Police Department on Sunday. But Sunday night would take a different turn.
As night fell, protesters march from the shooting site to West Florissant. There, they meet a line of police. Some of the protesters reportedly begin throwing rocks and bottles at the police. A QuikTrip gas station and convenience store on West Florissant is looted and later burned. Through the night, the looting spreads. Looting is reported at Zisser's Tire, AutoZone, Wal-Mart, Clocktower Place, Hibbett Sports, Sam's Meat Market, Red BBQ Man, Northland Chop Suey and Family Dollar.
Protests spread Monday, including to 501 Plaza, as well as the local NAACP. The city of Normandy closed Natural Bridge Road between Lucas & Hunt and Hanley Roads.
The city of Normandy closes Natural Bridge Road between Lucas & Hunt and Hanley Roads.
On Tuesday, Al Sharpton arrives, speaking first at the Old Courthouse in Downtown St. Louis, then at a service at St. Mark's Family Church.
Protests near the shooting site continue and police use tear gas and rubber bullets, attempting to maintain control. Overnight, two people are shot: Police shot a person who they say pointed a gun at them. And a woman was injured in what police called a drive-by shooting.
During a Wednesday press conference, Police Chief Thomas Jackson insists Mayor James Knowles' call for protests only during daylight hours was not a curfew but "just a 'please'."
On Wednesday evening, journalists from the Huffington Post and the Washington Post are arrested as they worked in a McDonald’s near the protest site, as police clear the restaurant. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is also arrested while at the protest.
On Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon holds a press conference at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and announces he is placing Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Highway Patrol in charge of the situation in Ferguson. On Thursday evening, Johnson walks with protesters as Nixon calls for a "different tone," and the technique yields a quieter night.
On Friday morning, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson holds a press conference at which he releases the name of the officer who killed Michael Brown: Darren Wilson. At the same time, he releases details about a "strong-armed" robbery police say Brown had committed just before the shooting.
Brown's family holds a press conference Friday at the Ferguson Police Department where their attorney says they are "incensed" by the "assassination of character" of Brown by the release of information about the robbery. Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson holds another press conference Friday afternoon at Forestwood Park in Ferguson to clarify Wilson did not know about the robbery when he first encountered Brown.
Friday night's protests begin peacefully, but end with more violence and looting. People break into Feel Beauty Supply, Sam's Meat Market and the Ferguson Market & Liquor, the store police say Brown robbed before he was shot and killed. Other protesters then form groups in front of the stores to stop people from looting them further.
One week after Michael Brown was shot and killed, protesters march peacefully from the shooting site to St. Mark's Family Church. Later, Gov. Jay Nixon holds a press conference with Capt. Ron Johnson at the church. Nixon declares a state of emergency and places Ferguson under a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., to last indefinitely.
Most of the protesters disperse by midnight. Police said media who wish to stay past the curfew would be confined to a staging area at West Florissant and Ferguson. A man is shot near the QuikTrip and transported to the hospital in a protester's vehicle, according to police.
A unity rally at Greater Grace Church in Ferguson draws a full house and an overflow crowd of hundreds. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay family attorney Benjamin Crump and Capt. Ron Johnson all speak at the rally. A group supporting Officer Darren Wilson also holds a rally in Downtown St. Louis outside the offices of NBC affiliate KSDK, which had broadcast footage of the officer's home.
A woman is grazed by a bullet near West Florissant and Canfield early in the evening. Later in the evening, with police firing tear gas into the crowd, some protesters smash windows at the McDonald’s and take refuge there. A fire and looting is reported at Dellwood Market. Looting is also reported at Rehoboth Pharmacy. According to police, a group of protesters also tries to overrun the command center police set up in the parking lot of a shopping center.
Early Monday morning, Gov. Jay Nixon signs an order calling in the National Guard. It is to be used in a limited role, to protect the command center. The Highway Patrol announces it would be closing West Florissant between Woodstock and Chambers until further notice. The curfew is also removed.
Brown family attorneys hold a press conference at Greater St. Mark's Family Church to discuss preliminary autopsy results that indicate Brown was shot at least six times.
From rally at Kiener Plaza in Downtown St. Louis people march to Gov. Jay Nixon's office in the Wainwright Building. Eight people are arrested for failure to disperse.
Police attempt to set up a protest zone at West Florissant and Ferguson, as well as another media zone across the street, but this is largely ignored. Police allow marchers on West Florissant, as long as they keep moving.
Police and protesters clash again. Although no curfew was in place, police clear the street just before midnight. According to police, 31 people are arrested and two people shot, but MSNBC later reported 78 people arrested. Police say they didn't fire any shots. They warn media to leave the staging area because of shots fired near Canfield.
The QuikTrip that was looted and burned more than a week ago and used as a gathering point is fenced off and gas is removed from the underground tanks.
On Tuesday afternoon, St. Louis City police officers shoot and kill a man suspected of stealing from a market who was acting erratically and confronted them with a knife when they arrived on scene. Police see no relation to Ferguson, but Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay are quick to hold press conferences and reach out to the media to explain the incident.
Protesters arrive at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton to demand that County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch recuse himself.
The Highway Patrol releases a statement saying it will establish an "approved assembly zone for protesters" at an old Ford dealership and a new media staging area at the Public Storage lot, both on West Florissant.