Because there were black Ferguson residents, including Bloods and Crips gang members, who risked their own safety by protecting small businesses from looters.
Emily Flitter reports for Reuters (via Las Vegas Review Journal) that on the night of Nov. 24, 2014, at least a dozen stores were set ablaze and others looted in racially charged riots in Ferguson after a grand jury cleared white policeman Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.
But as looters were rioting and burning down businesses in a two-square-mile area of the predominantly black city, one business was spared – a white-owned Conoco gas station and convenience store. That was because a group of black Ferguson residents armed with high-powered rifles stood outside the store to protect it from the rampaging mob.
Missouri allows the open carrying of firearms.
One of the protectors, a 6-foot-8 man named Derrick “Stretch” Johnson, held an AR-15 assault rifle as he stood in a pickup truck near the store’s entrance. Three other black Ferguson residents joined Johnson in front of the store, each of them armed with pistols.
That night, Jordan and his three friends at times were joined by other black men from the neighborhood, also armed. None of the men were getting paid to be there. They said they felt they owed it to the store’s owner Doug Merello, who has employed many of them over the years and treats them with respect.
Carrying a Taurus 9mm pistol in his sweatpants, a 29-year-old man who identified himself as R.J. said Merello is “a nice dude, he’s helped us a lot.” R.J. said the group chased away several groups of teenagers who wanted to loot the store, but also nearly got into a brush with soldiers from the Missouri National Guard who initially mistook them for looters. The guardsmen, rifles raised, had handcuffed one man before Merello came outside the store to explain that the residents were trying to help, not hurt.
Like the other volunteer protectors, R.J. had lived a short distance away from Merello’s store for most of his life.
Merello, whose father had first bought the gas station in 1984, said the men definitely saved his store: “We would have been burned to the ground many times over if it weren’t for them.”
Note: According to Channel 4 KMOV St. Louis, however, a Conoco gas station was among the businesses that were damaged in the riot: “A Conoco gas station and cars in the parking lot of a nearby car dealership were set on fire Monday night.”.
During the riots last August in Ferguson and St. Louis, there also were blacks who protected stores from looters.
Here’s a picture of three black men from the Bloods (red-orange color) and Crips (blue color) gangs guarding a beauty salon and supply store at 9070 W. Florissant Ave., St. Louis, in August 2014.
Here’s a video of black Ferguson residents protecting a liquor store from looters on August 16, 2014:
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Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.