© 2024 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tear Gas Canisters Collected As Souvenirs As Calm Returns To Ferguson

Justin Dear, ferguson 81814
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Following a night of turmoil and tear gas in which a half-dozen people were arrested and more businesses were vandalized, this morning was quiet in Ferguson.

Only a few cars traveled West Florissant Road near Ferguson Avenue as the night’s curfew was lifted at 5 a.m. Several were media vehicles, including a large CNN truck.

A few people were out walking. A young father named Justin Dear was among them, collecting debris on the sidewalk across from the McDonald’s early this morning. Dear appeared to be picking up trash but he was instead collecting tear gas canisters — as souvenirs.

“I just want to collect them to keep them, to have them when my kids get older, to have a story to tell them,” Dear said. “This is going to be in all our kids’ history books when they get older.”

Dear also has other items to make the story come alive for his young son and any future children he may have.

“I’ll show them my pictures and the video recordings I have of the whole movement. It’s going to be good for me to tell my son I was a part of this,” Dear said.

‘I’m not going to stop my life’

Dear and his friend Renee Hawkins have placed themselves in the middle of the action every night since Aug. 9. They feel it’s important to witness history in the making. Hawkins is angry about Brown’s death. She has harsh words for the police officer who shot him.

“It wasn’t right. He knows it,” Hawkins said, of the officer, whose name is Darren Wilson.

But Hawkins said she’s happy about some of what’s happened in the wake of the killing.

“The black community is coming together,” Hawkins said.

ferguson 81814
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Behind Hawkins and Dear was a spray-painted message on the boarded-up the Yolo Boutique, reading, Open! Black Owner."

Jalil Whitehorn, 23, has not been active in the protests. Before the sun rose, he came in for his shift at the McDonald’s where a window was broken last night. On his way in, he picked up a few pieces of trash and tossed them in a dumpster.

“You’ve got to keep it clean if you want people to come here to eat,” Whitehorn said.

Whitehorn’s been staying home most nights since the shooting of Michael Brown on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Jalil Whitehorn ferguson 81814
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio
Jalil Whitehorn

“I’ve got a girlfriend and a kid to take care of so I don’t have time for trouble,” Whitehorn said. “Basically, I’m in the house once it gets dark.

Down the road, Tayonda Garrett and her 4-year-old daughter Dazira of Dellwood waited at a Metro bus stop. Dazira was wearing a pink backpack. Unlike kids in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she was on the way to school this morning, a preschool she attends in St. Louis City. Garrett takes her daughter there on the bus every day and doesn’t see any reason to change her routine now.

“I’m not going to stop my life because everything is going on out here, all crazy and stuff, Garrett said. “You still got bills, you still got jobs and you’ve still got kids you have to take care of."

ferguson 81814 Tayonda Garrett and Dazira
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio
Tayonda Garrett and her 4-year-old daughter Dazira

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.