By Tulio Ospina
Post intern Tulio Ospina was in Ferguson, Mo. this week where he was filming for a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement and reporting for the Post News Group on the one-year anniversary of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, which sparked an international movement that is still going strong today.
Ospina says he was arrested in an illegal sweep on Monday, Aug. 10 that caught up 150 people across St. Louis County.
As my fellow arrestees and I shuffled into the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri, my most pressing thought was the removal of my plastic cuffs which had been tightly zip-tied to my wrists for over six hours.
The 63 of us were only now arriving at the St. Louis County Jail to be booked for the night after being jumped around to different locations all evening. It was a little past midnight and I tried not to think about how slowly the hours were dragging by.
As a member of the press and cinematographer, I was tasked with documenting the various actions and demands of grassroots organizations along with the responses of police to their acts of civil disobedience.
What I witnessed and experienced was both awe-inspiring and harrowing.
Married couple Brittany Ferrell and Alexis Templeton reflect a young generation of warriors risking their lives as they pit themselves against a notoriously violent police department.
They are both in their mid-20s and have dedicated their lives to obliterating racist police terror and empowering their local communities.
As co-founders of a grassroots organization in Ferguson called Millennial Activists United, they helped organize the shutting down of an interstate highway on Monday that blocked traffic for 20 minutes.
This was where we were arrested.
As the group of protestors was returning to their parked cars in a parking lot off the highway—following police orders to disperse—they suddenly found themselves ambushed as officers charged at the scattered crowd and arrested every single person present.
Many were unnecessarily tackled, dragged on the ground and hauled out of their vehicles despite having been ordered to leave and complying. This was 12 hours after St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency.
It is clear to me that one year after the killing of Michael Brown, after the youth-led Ferguson uprising that caught world’s attention and after the scathing Department of Justice report on oppressive policing and ticketing methods, St. Louis County is uninterested in change.
What has changed from when we witnessed the wholesale abusive treatment of innocent protestors, pedestrians and members of the press?
Back then, the world watched as a monstrous militarized police force terrorized unarmed civilians.
Now, we can see that law enforcement has chosen to take illegal preemptive methods to avoid another public embarrassment by sweeping as many people off the street as possible to ensure there be no news stories to tell.
As I sat in the sterile St. Louis County Jail at three o’clock in the morning, I met Cece, a 12-year-old girl seated on the plastic bench across from me.
Cece told me she was arrested while crossing the street in Ferguson in compliance to police orders to disperse. “I told them I was 12 years old so that they wouldn’t slam me on the ground,” she said.
The bored and jaded look on her face as she sat in jail said it all.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 14, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)