First of all, sorry for the uptight tone of this. I wrote it in a frenzy and my heart it still racing from seeing everything transpire. But here are some things to keep in mind as news of tonight's events in Ferguson rolls in:
1. At midnight tonight, W Florissant Ave and the adjacent sidewalks were filled with jubilant, peaceful protestors from Solway Ave to at least Highmont Drive. That's a mile and a quarter long stretch of people on foot and in cars protesting peacefully. By the time the looting began, as I walked north on Florissant Ave the crowd thinned to nothing right around Canfield Drive (and the police line was just south of Ferguson Ave), so that's about a quarter mile, with few cars in the street and a thin line of onlookers on the sidewalks. I say this to demonstrate that by the time things took a bad turn, the vast majority of the crowd had already left.
2. The looting that did occur was directly preceded by protestors managing themselves out of the street per a request by police. A large block of protestors had gathered on Florissant Ave just south of the Ferguson Ave intersection, and a standoff was in progress. Police asked the protestors to clear the streets, and some community leaders such as Antonio French led the efforts to get people out of the street. As the last members of the crowd were dispersing, the looting began. I think that the large influx of people into parking lots of Ferguson Market and Liquor and the beauty supply store, which were adjacent to the crowd, provided the cover and sense of high tension and urgency necessary for looting to begin. But it DID NOT (*edited from typo earlier) begin because of an angry mob. It was started by a select few.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Shortly after looting began, a semblance of order was restored not by direct involvement from police, but by protestors on the scene, hoping to keep the peace. Many young men stood guard in front of the beauty supply store to prevent further looting. A myriad of images and videos from tonight prove this.
tl;dr, the crowd proved perfectly capable of keeping itself under control ESPECIALLY when compared to how STL County police managed them earlier this week. Yes, looting happened tonight. It was done by a few, but the many stepped up to restore order. Please bear that in mind.