FERGUSON, Missouri (WNB) - Scooter Van Neuter Reporting
7:12 PM - Tension fills the air like a dog fart in a small pantry. Despite temperatures dipping into the 30s, the heat of perceived social injustice threatens to light the fuse of explosive citizen unrest in the town of Ferguson.
From my sixth floor Marriott suite in North St. Louis, I see large mobs of people gathering in the streets. Flashing lights from police cars dot the horizon, and the sky is filled with news copters. The verdict is to be announced at 8:00 PM, so I finish my wine and take a nap until then knowing it will likely be a long, turbulent night.
11:46 PM - My sleep is shattered by the distant sounds of tear gas being fired. A half-mile away, downtown Ferguson has been transformed into Hell. The flames from dozens of fires illuminate swarms of people running around like so many over-caffeinated ants, if ants wore hoodies and carried large cans of malt liquor. What appears to be a police car burns in the middle of a street. I order more wine and a selection of fancy cheeses from room service.
1:22 AM - Images on television show rioters descending on a mobile phone store in a strip center just a few blocks from my hotel. I grab my coat and camera, and head out to get a hands-on perspective of this story.
2:!9 AM - Back at my hotel, I order a cup of cocoa, draw a hot bath, and review the notes I took in the streets:
It's really cold outside. People are running all over the place shouting about 'justice' and 'let's go shopping'. Several businesses are being looted. The frustration of people transporting large quantities of goods without containers is hard to watch, as is the destruction of many Ferguson businesses. On the plus side, it looks like all my family and friends are getting new Galaxy S5 phones and accessories this Christmas - yippee! My fingers are numb so I'm heading back to my hotel before I get knocked out/beaten/robbed.
3:07 AM - Judging by the flames on the horizon, the situation in Ferguson remains extremely volatile. I'm forced to close the drapes so I can sleep, but the cheeses conspire to keep me awake. The air is heavy in this troubled Midwestern city tonight.