Heather Wilson: No ‘Rules of Engagement’ in Ferguson

HeatherwithcameraMy sister in Christ, Heather Wilson (left), had guns aimed at her last night in Ferguson, MO, as she attempted to nonviolently document the violence in the aftermath of the waves of police-led domestic terrorism going on in Missouri.

Heather is a photojournalist. She spent a year as a Sojourners intern and now works at PICO National Network. Heather spent a few years in Afghanistan as a photographer in the mission field. She’s covered war zones before.–Rose

Here’s what Heather wrote to me today:

the concussion grenades and flash grenades are petrifying. They were shooting teargas into the neighborhoods. Community members thought they were safe because they were abiding by the understood regulations that had been set. But the cops just threw those out the window last night. There were no understood rules of engagement. I had no idea if they were going to shoot us or not as we tried to get out of the protest space. I bought a gas mask and had it with me. So thankful. And gave it to a coworker as he went back into the mayhem to coordinate getting people out with a bunch of local clergy.–Heather

Here’s part of what I wrote back to her:

Here are some tear gas and smoke grenade tips from my experiences in the Mt. Pleasant uprisings of 1991: Soak oversized bandannas in apple cider vinegar then carry them with you in a gallon-size zip lock bag with about 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in the bottom. If you’ve got the baggy with you then you can keep your bandanna resupplied. I usually brought an extra bandanna with me to share if someone caught caught without anything.

For flashbangs or concussion grenades all I know is cover your eyes and use the heavy-duty machinist ear plugs. (Those flashbangs can be totally lethal. They can cause heart attacks and trigger panic attacks – so stay the hell away from them if you can.)

Wear white and keep yourself highly visibly identified, if you can, with PRESS or PEACEKEEPER taped to your shirt with duck tape.

I’m sorry it is so terrifying. Sadly, it’s meant to be. This is what race-based domestic terrorism looks like.

This is your mantra: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Repeat this and walk/move to its rhythm. I’m here. I’m praying.–Rose

Read more of Heather’s accounts from Ferguson, MO. here.

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