New Michael Brown footage reignites old tensions in Ferguson
More than two years after the shooting of black teen Michael Brown ignited the Black Lives Matter movement, new video from the convenience store Brown had allegedly robbed is shifting the narrative of what happened that night in Ferguson, Missouri.
New footage from a different visit to the store 11 hours earlier was featured in “Stranger Fruit,” a documentary about Brown’s death that premiered Saturday at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
Jason Pollock, the filmmaker who found the video, says the new footage shows Brown giving a package of weed to the store clerk. In the video, employees at the store pass around and smell the package. Then the clerk hands Brown two cartons of cigarillos. Brown walks toward the exit holding his shopping bag, and then appears to change his mind, and hands the bag back to the clerk. The clerk puts the bag under the counter.
“They wanted us to think Michael robbed the store because they needed us to think that Michael was aggressive,” Pollock said during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday. “Michael was handed the bag in the video, the clerk puts it in a plastic bag and hands it over the counter to Michael Brown… That’s not stealing [from] the store.”
And yet there may be a third video released soon of what happened on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson. Jay Kanzier, an attorney representing the Ferguson Market and Liquor, challenged Pollock’s interpretation of the secondary video and told CNN that he planned to release the full surveillance video on Monday.
“Right now, to turn around and somehow blame folks that have nothing to do with this… To turn around and blame them and drag them back into it for what Michael Brown did is shameful,” Kanzier told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Kanzier did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
The new video is reopening old wounds in the St. Louis suburb, where about 100 people gathered outside the convenience store Sunday night, showing just how raw the memory of Brown and the riots that followed continues to be for local residents.
Ferguson police contended that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Brown after he allegedly robbed Ferguson Market and Liquor, and they released video footage that shows the teenager shoving a store clerk before leaving the premises with a small carton of cigarillos.
The footage was used to justify Wilson’s assertion that he feared for his life when he pulled the trigger. The teenager’s friends and family objected to that characterization, and said the video was being used to unfairly villainize Brown.
In an extensive report into the case, the St. Louis County Police Department briefly referred to Brown’s earlier visit to the convenience store — which is what reportedly tipped Pollock off to the existence of the video. A spokesperson for the police department told the New York Times over the weekend that they did not release the earlier video because they felt it was not relevant to the case.
Wilson was not indicted for fatally shooting Brown, and he later resigned from Ferguson Police Department. Brown’s parents have filed a federal lawsuit against Wilson and the city of Ferguson; the civil trial is slated to begin next year. Neither Ferguson Police Department nor St. Louis County Police returned VICE News’ requests for comment.
During the new protests Sunday, seven to eight shots were fired and arrests were made. One protester stuffed a rag into the gas tank of a police patrol car, the St. Louis Dispatch reported, but it did not cause serious damage.