The Ferguson Spring

Start Slideshow View as a List

In the days since Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American man, was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the town of 21,000 people located just north of St. Louis has devolved into an increasingly tense confrontation between protesters and its strikingly militarized police force. Photos and footage from the scene show local police officers fully outfitted with body armor and tactical weapons -- scoped, short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles, accurate up to 500 meters -- modeled after the M4 carbine used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. This police force, joined by officers from upwards of 15 other departments, has patroled the streets of Ferguson in military vehicles, arrested journalists and one local politician, and fired teargas and rubber bullets at mostly peaceful protesters. On Thursday night, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets -- some 75 people have reportedly been arrested since Saturday, when Brown was killed. As of Aug. 12, the FAA has listed the skies above the town as restricted airspace.

Today, speaking from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., President Barack Obama called for calm, saying, "Now's the time for peace ... on the streets of Ferguson," adding, "Police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs."

But for the moment, Ferguson, Mo., looks more like Kiev's Maidan, the street fights of Bahrain, or the clashes of Cairo's Tahrir Square than small-town America. In fact, at a glance, it's pretty difficult to spot the difference between the warzone atmosphere on the streets of Ferguson, and the crackdowns and clashes that have erupted in some of the most volatile and repressive countries in the world.

Left: A young man in Ferguson, Mo. at a protest against the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police. On Aug. 14, the protests entered their fourth day.

Right: A protester in the village of Diraz, Bahrain, holds a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police on July 19, 2013. Protests began in Bahrain in 2011, when the country's Shiite majority began demanding more rights from the Sunni monarchy.

Left: When the Ukrainian government tried to clear out the last remaining demonstrators from Independence Square, the epicenter of the uprising that forced President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February, protesters resisted by burning tires and throwing Molotov cocktails.

Right: The daily demonstrations in Ferugson since Brown's death have turned violent at times, with protesters, such as this one, throwing Molotov cocktails.

Left: A protester in Ferguson runs from tear gas shot by the police. The Ferguson police have been accused of using excessive force in dealing with the protests, which, at times, have been violent.

Right: A mostly peaceful protest in Rio de Janeiro on Oct. 15, 2013, by Brazilian teachers demanding better public education turned violent when a small group clashed with police, who responded with tear gas.

Left: Riot police look on as protesters in Ferguson gather to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of Brown's murder.

Right: A pro-Russian protester faces off against riot police in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The pro-Russian demonstrators had occupied a government administration building before being driven out by police on April 8, in an operation that the government described as an "anti-terrorist operation."

Left: A Mexican federal policeman stands guard with a machine gun as the attorney general's office presents Juan Manuel Rodriguez Garcia, an alleged leader of a major drug cartel, to the press. Mexico's government has waged a multi-year armed campaign to try to rein in the cartels.

Right: A police officer seated behind a mounted gun watches over protesters in Ferguson. The Ferguson Police Department has purchased surplus equipment from the U.S. military.

Left: Opponents of Thailand's May 22 military coup cover their mouths during a demonstration. The Thai protesters have organized peaceful "flashmob" protests protests in Bangkok and other locations to voice objection to the army's banning of political assemblies.

Right: In Ferguson, protesters hold up their hands and chant, "Hands up, don't shoot!" They say that Brown, who was unarmed, was holding his hands up when a police officer shot and killed him. 

Left: In Cairo, Egyptian police dressed in riot gear stand outside the Presidential Palace as opponents of then-President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate against his proposed constitution on Dec. 18, 2012.

Right: Police officers block a street in Ferguson as protesters march through the 20,000-person town on Aug. 12.

Left: Turkish riot police fire plastic bullets at anti-government protesters in Ankara on the one-year anniversary of 2013's massive demonstrations against the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Right: Heavily armed police force protestors in Ferguson away from the town's central business district. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators, many of whom held up their hands as a sign of protest against police brutality.

Left: Members of Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion watch over protests in Dhaka during a nationwide strike on Feb. 18, 2013, in response to a leading Islamist being sentenced to life in prison.

Right: On the second day of protests in Ferguson against Michael Brown's murder, police take up positions against gathering demonstrators.

Left: A masked Israeli soldier re-loads tear gas atop an army truck on Aug. 8, 2008, the day after Israeli forces shot and killed Ahmad Mohammad al-Qatari at a demonstration in a Ramallah refugee camp against Israeli bombing of Gaza. Over 40 people were injured by Israeli troops at a protest in Hebron the same day and 16 people were killed in the West Bank that month.

Right: A masked Missouri police officer watches demonstrators protesting against Brown's murder. The Ferguson police department has not released the name of the police officer who shot Brown.

Left: Tear gas hangs in the air as police attempt to force protestors to leave downtown Ferguson on Aug. 11. The day before, some protesters had burned down and looted buildings.

Right: Kenyan riot police chase student protesters outside Nairobi University on May 20. Some of the students, who were demonstrating against a controversial fee increase, threw rocks at the police.

Left: A police officer patrols downtown Ferguson on the night of Aug. 13. Police fired rubber-coated bullets at demonstrators.

Right: A Bahraini policeman watches the road that runs through the market in the village of Jidd Hafs, west of Manama, on Aug. 14, 2013. The police fired birdshot and tear gas at protesters, successfully stopping opposition activists from gathering outside the U.S. embassy in Manama.

Left: A Thai soldier with a machine gun secures the area outside a shopping mall in Bangkok where protesters gather for a demonstration against the May 22 military coup. Most of the anti-coup protests have been peaceful.

Right: A Missouri State Highway Patrol tactical vehicle travels down a central road in Ferguson as police try to break up protests against police violence.

Left: An Israeli soldier looks on as an army truck speeds into the streets of Bethlehem, firing volleys of tear gas into Palestinian youth protesting the bombing of Gaza on July 23. Two protesters were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank town of Husan the same day.

Right: A demonstrator in Ferguson looks on as tear gas fills a street on Aug. 13, the fourth day of protests in the Missouri town.

Previous Next Close