The story that has been lost in the Ferguson aftermath is that of the hundreds of people who have to pick up the pieces following the riots of Thanksgiving week. After the verdict came down resulting in Darren Wilson not being indicted for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, all hell broke loose in Ferguson, Missouri. The riots, though subdued, continued as late as Thanksgiving eve on November 26.
Within minutes, a large pack of protesters, turned rioters, stormed down the streets in Ferguson as police stood their ground, rioter gear and all. Lighter fluid was poured onto police cars, and with the windows smashed, the vehicles were either over turned or set on fire. Rocks and broken glass bottles were tossed around like baseballs, as local businesses were broken into, and often burned to the ground. While peaceful protests were taking place, they were drowned out by hundreds of rioters looting business after business.
The Flood Christian Church, which the Brown family attended, was also broken into and burned to the ground. “This last couple days had just been crazy,” Pastor Carlton Lee told the Washington Post on November 28. Lee and other community members believe the Church was specifically targeted, as Lee has claimed to received as many as 71 death threats since the Brown killing in August.
Another unfortunate victim of the riots was Mohamad Yaacoub, whose store “Sam’s Meat Market,” was not only vandalized in August, but completely vanished in flames by Monday night. “To be honest with you, I’m lost now,” Yaacoub said to NBC News, before admitting, “I’m not sure money-wise. Money-wise, it’s just too hard.” Yaacoub says he had to borrow $700 just to purchase wood to board up his store, and while he does carry insurance for damages, he doesn’t know when and how much he will be receiving to put the pieces back together.
NBC also spoke to Leeanna Moore, an employee of the “Clip Appeal” salon, which is located only two doors down from Sam’s Meat Market. Moore stated that she doesn’t know how many businesses will return even if they are financially able to because of the fear of another riot taking place.
“The fear bothers me right now, just the fact that we have to go back down in the area. We never felt that way before…That’s why I think a lot of businesses won’t return. They’ll have the fear of: What if something else happens? The same thing could happen.”
One promising story is that of Natalie Dubose, the owner of “Natalie’s Cakes and More,” whose store only had it’s Grand Opening in the summer, was vandalized during the riot. Dubose set up a “GOFUNDME” account online, and as of November 28, has received over $255,000 in donations. Scrolling through the list of those who have donated, one can see that the donations came from people of all ages, and all races, white, black and everything in between. Dubose notes that while she can’t respond to every message, he is “grateful” for every “thought, message, comment, Tweet, Facebook message, prayer, smile, and donation.”
In addition to many local businesses, larger chain stores, such as a Walgreens, an Autozone and a Little Caesars Pizza were all decimated during the attacks. It is unknown when and if these larger stores will return to the area.
On the surface, the debate seems to be whether or not Officer Darren Wilson acted aggressively or not in his handling of the incident with Michael Brown. There are supporters of Brown who claim that Wilson had a racial agenda in targeting Brown, which led him to use excessive force. Others dispute that, claiming that Brown, who earlier had robbed a convenience store and assaulted the owner on his way out, all caught on tape and validated by an eye witness, was the one who was the aggressor, which ended with his untimely death. No matter which side is right, the reality is that the lives of everyone in Ferguson have changed, and not for the better.