A Missouri man, arrested early Sunday morning in the town of Ferguson, says he was doing nothing more than smoking in a cigarette in the driveway of his aunt’s Ferguson home when police arrested him.
Joshua Hampton told the Washington Post that he and his girlfriend were sitting in his car with another friend at 2 a.m. when the police truck came rolling down the street with officers hanging on to the sides. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.
But Hampton, 30, suddenly found himself surrounded by police.
“They kept telling me to get out of the car, but I didn’t want to make any kind of movement,” he said.
“Get out the f*****g car! Get out the f*****g car!” Hampton told Firedoglake they shouted at him.
Hampton sat there frozen until an officer reached in through an open window and unlatched the door. The police arrested him and his two companions. They placed him in the back of the police truck.
“I went ahead, and I had my hands up and I put them on the window and he opened up the door and he told his friend to cover his back. Took the gun and pressed my chest with the gun,” Hampton said in describing the arrest.
“I just kept asking, ‘Why am I being arrested for sitting in my aunt’s driveway?’” he recounted. “They said, ‘Curfew’ — and I said, ‘But I’m sitting at my aunt’s house.’”
The curfew that police referenced was the one imposed by authorities after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, Saturday night. It was intended to keep people off the streets between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
The St. Louis suburb has now seen over a week’s worth of protests after a police officer shot and killed unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
But many argue that police tactics in response to the protests have been over the top. Hampton certainly thinks so. He said he was mindful of the curfew, which is why he chose to sit in the car rather than loiter in his aunt’s front yard.
Two others, who Hampton did not know, were also arrested for sitting in a car on his aunt’s street. In total, police arrested seven people Sunday morning for violating the curfew.
One of the women told Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, or MORE, that she was dragged around by her hair and felt treated like “an animal.” MORE is the group providing legal aide to all those arrested Sunday morning.
“It feels like I’m not human. It feels like I’m being treated like an animal — being told when I can come, when I can go, what time I can be out in my own community outside of my own house where I pay the mortgage and bills,” Cieara Delaney said.
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