In the aftermath of the fatal police shooting on Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man who was unarmed, massive protests erupted in the town of Ferguson, Missouri.
The protests were often tense, as heavily-armed police with rifles, body armour, and gas masks squared off against a large crowd of demonstrators chanting and marching. Some, as St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s David Carson observed, threw rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.
On Wednesday, police officers attempted to break up the protests by firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd. At one point, they arrested two journalists for no apparent reason. By all accounts, the situation looked like it would only get worse.
Then the management changed, and boy what a difference a day makes.
On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) relieved the local police force and brought in the state’s highway patrol, led by Capt. Ron Johnson, a native of Ferguson, to take over. Their presence has not stopped the demonstrations, but a level of calm has begun to take hold in a city that had been on edge for nearly a week.
“With Highway Patrol, hugs and kisses replace tear gas in Ferguson,” reads the headline from the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, who has been covering the protests for days.
“When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem.” Capt. Johnson told Lowery as he marched with the protesters. “We’ve got to solve that.”
Perhaps no other photo captures the incredible change in mood than one tweeted by USA Today’s Yamiche Alcindor, which shows exactly what interaction between community residents and police should look like:
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 15, 2014
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