While Ferguson remains on edge, decisions by officials continue to show there are two forms of justice in America—one set of rules for Blacks, and another set of rules for whites. A Ferguson activist could be facing jail time for allegedly causing damage to a car that tried to drive through a crowd of protesters.
Brittany Ferrell was accused of causing more than $5,000 worth of damage to an SUV as its driver forced its way through a crowd which had gathered on Interstate 70 near Ferguson during a protest marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown. Ferrell allegedly kicked the vehicle and could now face up to four years in prison. She’s been charged with property damage, which is a class D felony in Missouri. Ferrell was released on $10,000 bond.
Ferrell’s partner, Alexis Templeton, was also charged for punching the driver through the vehicle window. Templeton and Ferrell are the co-founders of Millennial Activists United, an activist group that grew out of the demonstrations in Ferguson last summer.
Black Lives Matter activists were incensed by the charges. Brittany Packnett, an activist who sat on President Obama’s White House taskforce on police reform, said several demonstrators were struck by the vehicle.
“Feet don’t cause $5K worth of damage to cars,” Packnett said on Twitter. “[Bob] McCulloch meant ‘drive over,’ not past. They were almost hit.”
The charges have angered many Black people, who feel there is bias in the way that law enforcement is dealing with Black protesters and white citizens who seem to be breaking the law. Black Ferguson residents have been arrested for congregating on the street, while the police has done nothing about the Oath Keepers, a mainly white militia group, who are patrolling the streets of Ferguson armed with assault rifles and clad in body armor. The Guardian reports a group of black men were arrested merely on the suspicion of having firearms.
A group of at least three black men who were standing by a car next to a hair salon on West Florissant Avenue were arrested on Monday night after St. Louis County police surged towards them, using pepper spray and batons. A spokesman for the police department told the Guardian by email on Tuesday that officers had received information “that the occupants or folks near that vehicle were possibly armed with handguns.”
The Oath Keepers, who are patrolling Ferguson, are soldiers, police officers and first responders who say they will not carry out unconstitutional orders. The group claims it was in Ferguson to provide security for an Infowars reporter, a site run by conspiracy enthusiast, Alex Jones.
However, there seems to be some confusion over whether the Oath Keepers are breaking the law. The Oath Keepers claim to have met with area law enforcement and received their blessing, but local officials denied this. On Tuesday, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said the group’s presence was “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
Additionally, a spokesman for the county executive office told The Guardian it had not yet been established whether the Oath Keepers had violated any laws in appearing on the streets but “the situation was being examined by the county police.”
This is not the first time the criminal justice system seems to have punished protesters more harshly than police officers who have been involved in fatalities. Allen Bullock, a Baltimore teen who vandalized a police car during citywide protests, had a higher bail than the officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death. The six officers accused in the Gray case were reportedly held on a range of $250,000 to $350,000. However, Bullock’s bail was a whopping $500,000.