(AP/Charlie Riedel)

Ferguson protesters referred to as "enemy forces" by Missouri National guard

A spokesman said the Guard used "generic military" terms, even though it lumped "General Protesters" in with KKK


Scott Eric Kaufman
April 17, 2015 11:24PM (UTC)

According to documents obtained by CNN, the Missouri National Guard referred to those protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson as "enemy forces" and "adversaries" -- and this was before the protests turned contentious, lending credence to protesters' claims that the police had adopted military tactics from the get-go.

Protesters complained that local law enforcement agencies -- many of which were working in collaboration with the National Guard -- fired tear gas into crowds of protesters and used armored vehicles to quell dissent. The documents obtained by CNN are evidence that, at least from the National Guard's perspective, many in law enforcement were engaged in what they believed was a military operation.

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The language used in the initial deployment emails could, as was stated in a later document also obtained by CNN, be "construed as potentially inflammatory," so "all reference of 'enemy' were changed to state 'criminal elements.'"

In an email to CNN defending the National Guard's use of militarized language, Captain John Quinn said that it was standard, "a generic military planning format utilized in a wide range of military missions, so the term 'enemy forces' would be better understood as 'potential threats.' Often in Guard operations, threats would include inclement weather, heat, failing levees, etc." However, in a document titled "Operation Show-Me Protection II," a list of "Enemy Forces" included the Ku Klux Klan, the New Black Panther Party, and "General Protesters."

Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman, told CNN that he found the National Guard's diction deeply disturbing, because "you have what amounts to American soldiers viewing American citizens somehow as the enemy."


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Ferguson Michael Brown Militarization National Guard



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