Tensions Flare in Ferguson: Protesters Arrested, Journalists Threatened

Ferguson Aug 19
Demonstrators protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown rest on a car while holding a sign in Ferguson, Missouri August 19, 2014 Joshua Lott / Reuters

Tensions flared around midnight local time last night in Ferguson, Missouri, after a mostly peaceful evening of protests as at least one protester apparently threw water bottles at the police. Journalists on the ground described a scene of disarray as police moved in on protesters with dogs and heavy weaponry, made arrests, and corralled off media.

#Ferguson. Somebody just threw a bottle at cops. Just like that chaos. Unbelievable. @ajc @MyAJCTweets

— Ernie Suggs (@erniesuggs) August 20, 2014

Police shouting and advancing rapidly. Lots of activity. Sirens, shouting. #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/Zw9iTUIm8T

— Julie Bosman (@juliebosman) August 20, 2014

Willis Arnold, of St. Louis Public Radio, reported that at least two arrests were made.

Media cordoned. Bottles thrown at cops. At least two arrests made. Cop fired into crowd. Calm now. #Ferguson

— Willis Arnold (@WillisRArnold) August 20, 2014
Zachary Roth, of MSNBC, reported that he saw police put six men into the back of a police van. Police later announced that they had arrested 47 people.

At least six men restrained and put in back of St Louis Co. police van. Cop tells one he saw him putting rocks on his pocket. Man denies it.

— Zachary Roth (@zackroth) August 20, 2014
Akilah Johnson, of the Boston Globe, took a video of one man being arrested with his hands up.
One man expressed frustration at being maced:

Protesters are livid that police officers used mace in an effort to calm them down. This man was maced. https://t.co/5v2ww22Ova

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 20, 2014

Members of the press were ordered to move back into the "designated media area." Officers then reportedly entered the media area with weapons drawn.

The scene in #ferguson https://t.co/4yJibDDArA

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 20, 2014

Smh apparently the police are pointing guns at reporters. Reporters asked for his name, cop told reporter "go fuck yourself"

— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) August 20, 2014

Officers, guns drawn, have moved into media pit and are grabbing people, going between cars searching. #Ferguson

— Pervaiz Shallwani (@Pervaizistan) August 20, 2014

This is total disarray. "We don't like people behind us!" cop says, pushing me forward.

— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) August 20, 2014

Ryan Reilly, of the Huffington Post, took a picture of what he described as a photographer being arrested.

Photographer arrested #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/0sO1Y5h35p

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) August 20, 2014

Prior to the outburst of police activity, things seemed calm. Around midnight, a choo choo train, apparently borrowed from a local amusement park, glided through the crowd playing Marvin Gaye's hit "What's Going on?" Police asked the drivers of the train to remove it, Yamiche Alcindor of ABC News reports:

The train has been ordered away by police. #Ferguson https://t.co/bckedDuX5O

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 20, 2014

Earlier in the evening, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster mingled in the crowd of protesters, announcing that the grand jury for the case investigating the death of Michael Brown will convene at 9 a.m. CDT on Wednesday.

MO Attorney General Chris Koster in #Ferguson right now. https://t.co/udwIQACUiG

— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 20, 2014

Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster said this when I asked why he came to visit protesters: "These are my bosses. I work for them." #Ferguson

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 20, 2014

Mo Attorney General Chris Koster surveys the situation in #Ferguson just now. pic.twitter.com/YI7YaEcfyv

— Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun) August 20, 2014

Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster said a grand jury will be convened at 9 am tomorrow. He gave protesters the news #JusticeForMikeBrown

— Medusausi (@Medusausi) August 20, 2014

Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster said he will be praying prosecutors going before grand jury tomorrow will "do a great job." #Ferguson

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 20, 2014

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster walked and talked to protesters -- and the press. #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/Dp79Ec1qfy

— Akilah Johnson (@akjohnson1922) August 20, 2014

Koster successfully opposed a motion on Monday filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that called for a temporary restraining order on certain police tactics. The ACLU opposed measures that require people to keep moving on sidewalks and in the streets unless they're standing in designated protest zones.

The ACLU suit said that the measure places "restrictions on the ability of the media to witness and report on unfolding events," and orders "people who are violating no law ... to refrain from gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Koster, however, countered that the measure protected public safety, and applauded the decision by a U.S. district judge to allow "for law enforcement officers to continue their efforts to protect the people and property of Ferguson."

Koster, a former Republican state senator, famously switched to the Democratic party in 2007.