Heavily armed SWAT police trained their guns on the public and fired tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri, last night as racial unrest over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen rocked the St. Louis suburb for the fourth night running.
An estimated 500 people, who had been protesting 18-year-old Michael Brown’s death on Saturday, ignored the night curfew imposed by police and instead faced-off against officers chanting ‘Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!’
After repeatedly asking them to disperse, the riot police then fired tear gas into the crowd to break it up, causing scenes that resembled a war zone as another night of clashes was sparked between authorities and furious protestors.
The protestors that remained entered into pitched street battles with police and lobbed Molotov cocktails at the camouflage-clad officers who responded with more tears gas and smoke bombs although there were no immediate reports of injuries but at least 18 arrests.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon cancelled all appearances on Wednesday night and said he would visit Ferguson on Thursday.
This comes as St. Louis Alderman, Antonio French, was arrested by police during the unrest on Wednesday night in Ferguson after he didn’t listen to police, according to his wife.
Senka French took to Twitter to confirm that the popular politician was ordered out of his car and taken into custody by police and it is not clear what he has been charged with yet.
Earlier in the evening, two journalists were detained and arrested without charge or explanation inside a McDonald’s after heavily armed SWAT officers stormed the fast food restaurant amid rising tensions following the death of the unarmed teen in broad daylight on Saturday.
Huffington Post justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post staffer Wesley Lowery both were taken into custody after describing the increasing militarization of Ferguson by the suburbs predominantly white police force as they faced off against outraged members of the suburb’s African American community.
The standoff between protestors and the police followed the release of police radio chatter and 911 transcripts in the moments after Brown’s controversial death and posted by the hacker collective Anonymous.
Lowery and Reilly were taken into custody by officers just before 8pm ET after armed and camouflaged police swarmed into McDonalds and demanded that patrons leave.
The sequence of events was described by the two men via Twitter after their release and incredulous colleagues posted pictures of their arrest to social media as they occurred.
According to Lowery and Reilly police told them they were closing down the McDonalds, which has become a make-shift base for reporters assigned to Ferguson since Brown was fatally shot up to eight times by an officer on Saturday.
Asked why they had to leave, the two men were told that it was for their safety because after dark the police would not be taking 911 calls to the area.
The police then requested identification from Lowery and Reilly and then eventually arrested them after they lost patience with the reporters while they packed their bags and attempted to leave the McDonalds.
Washington Post reporter Lowery also took to Twitter to claim that he was assaulted by officers. ‘Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Martin D. Baron, the Post’s executive editor, issued a statement saying ‘here was absolutely no justification’ for Lowery’s arrest and said the organization was appalled by the officers’ conduct.
In a statement, the Huffington Post said that their reporter ‘was arrested Wednesday while covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding the death of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, who was shot to death by a police officer last week.
‘Reilly tweeted at around 8:00 P.M. EDT that SWAT officers invaded the McDonald’s at which he was working, requesting his identification after he took a photo of them,’ the statement said.
‘The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery was also working at the fast food restaurant.’