The killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael "Mike Mike" Brown — shot twice in the head by police officer Darren Wilson — has transformed Ferguson, Missouri, from a sleepy St. Louis suburb into a powder keg.
Citizens voicing righteous grievance about racial injustice and police violence have been met with a horrifying, militarized police response. Unarmed protestors decrying the death of an unarmed black teenager have been ordered to shut up and stand down by white police officers targeting them through the scopes of sniper rifles.
These police — unwilling to accept that they, themselves, are a legitimate target of protest — have barraged protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets, and sonic cannons, fired from war vehicles that have no justification on civilian streets.
In a vicious circle, legitimate protest of police violence has been met by violent police overreaction. This has, in turn, attracted criminal elements, provocateurs, and looters to the streets of Ferguson — sparking greater police escalation, and even leading Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to deploy the National Guard.
Police in Ferguson are not simply trampling the first amendment freedoms of protestors. They are also punishing journalists who seek to document the events on the ground. On Monday, Ferguson police arrested Getty Photographer Scott Olson for straying a few feet from a "media staging area" where police have attempted to corral journalists to prevent them from doing their jobs. "The police have made conscious decisions to restrict information and images coming from Ferguson," said David Boardman, president of the American Society of News Editors. Olson was later released without charge.
What is it that the don't the cops in Ferguson want you to see?
This photo essay of Olson's finest work from the past week, including last night after his release, captures the grit, hope, and horror of life on the restive streets of Ferguson.