Teenager Who Garnered National Attention As Ferguson Protest Leader Arrested For Arson

la-na-ferguson-activist-arson-burglary-2014122-001During the coverage of the Ferguson protests, activist Joshua Williams, 19, became something of a celebrity as an advocate for peaceful protests. He was profiled by MSNBC and shown walking hand-in-hand with Cornel West. Williams was the counter image of the violent protesters who burned and looted Ferguson. However, this week, Williams was charged for setting fire to a convenience store during those very protests — a crime that police say he confessed to in a videotaped interview. It is sad development for a young man who garnered national attention for his work as a protest leader.

MSNBC featured Williams in a profile entitled “Portrait of a Protester” . In the piece, Williams describes how he also was angry and yelled at police. However, he insisted:

“I think we can be better if we can all come together. We might have to come together and show that we can work together and overthrow the system. But we have to come together as one and show them we can be peaceful, that we can do this. If not they’re going to just want us to act up so they can pull out their toys on us again.”

Police now say that he did more than that. They have introduced surveillance video and news footage showing Williams starting multiple fires inside and outside the Quick Trip convenience store as it was being looted by others.

He was charged with arson in the first degree and with second-degree burglary for entering the convenience store — both are felonies. He was also charged with misdemeanor stealing for taking a lighter, gum and cash from the store. They say that he has confessed to the crimes. However, protesters have demonstrated at the St. Louis County Justice Center over his arrest, insisting that charges be dropped.

With the reported videotape and confession, that is highly unlikely. What will be interesting is whether the court will view his statements advocacy peaceful protests as a positive community service (and thus a mitigating factor) or as an act of hypocrisy (and thus as aggravating factor) in sentencing.

In the profile by MSNBC, Williams speaks of his initial anger but says that he redirected that anger into peaceful and positive protest. He credits the intervention of Rev. Willis Johnson of the Wellspring Church as a turning point for him. Notably, that interview included an admission that could itself be viewed as assault but was not charged:

“I remember one night the police fired tear gas at us and I picked one of them up and threw it back at them. And the more we threw them back they just kept firing them back at us. It’s like it never stopped. I said to myself, we need another plan. This isn’t working.”

The arson however is far more serious. Indeed, with people still in the store when Williams allegedly torched it, there could have been additional charges brought by police.

Source: LA Times

133 thoughts on “Teenager Who Garnered National Attention As Ferguson Protest Leader Arrested For Arson”

  1. To the tech folks at this site. My information no longer comes up automatically, even when I’m responding to your note. Is it me or you that needs to do something. I am a lowTechie!

    1. Sandy – I would do a scan and then leave it on. It might need to update. They act squirrelly like that when they have to update. Also, there is a different problem going on in N StLouis Co than in most places. Compare it to Daly and Obamaland and maybe you can understand it then. It is not racial. They just like to pretend it is that way right now. It is a game with all of them. They are all sick. the cops, criminals, all of them.

  2. Singing about dead cops doesn’t get much sympathy. Instead it feeds the fire, and people will fight back. There was a question on Twitter about what could deBlasio do to better his relationship with police. I said not one thing. A mayor hears chanting about wanting dead cops now and does nothing? They turn their backs on him when he speaks, I hope civilians there do the same. The man is a bozo! Talking about his black son and his problems with police just deepens the bias.

    Giuliani would not have let these things happen. The ethnic poor are going to suffer as police are posted elsewhere. The first time I went to NYC after Rudy was elected was amazing. Two cops walking on streets talking with anyone. It made you feel safer. And getting rid of the window washers while you try leaving town. Are they back? I will not be in NYC for a long time. And I love it!

  3. HappyPappies….for the record, I believe you are doing the right things vis a vis your former brother in law. Lots of people get mad at me and that’s on them…e.g., do it yourself if you’re so cure of yourself. There is only so much you can accomplish before the emotional and psychological drain is debilitating. As you know, from previous interactions by email, that I am always here to talk virtually with you should you need to do so. For my money you’ve handled adversity very well, better than most people do.

    PS: Our money in Detroit “dried up” all right, and a big contributor was one time Mayor Kilpatrick, now serving 28 years in a federal penitentiary for fraud and corruption involving city funds. His predecessor was barely less corrupt…and that made for 30+ years of insanity, and as you’ve described, driven by a corrupt machine….now gone. We’ve cleared bankruptcy now and things really are improving, albeit slowly…investors are returning and that’s the first step. My daughter lives quite safely in the central city core now, walking distance from her office.

    1. Aridog – thank you for your kind and encouraging words as always, and it’s great that your daughter can live in the city again. I had tried that and those gunshots were too much for me. All we can do is pray for peace someday. 🙂

  4. HappyPappies said …

    I hate to be that way but that City [Ferguson & St Louis County] is not like Detroit.

    Today, you’d be right. No argument. But Detroit and Wayne County were almost exactly like what you’ve described, and I’ve read about, but in the 1970’s. I am somewhat surprised that in 2014-2015 they are still that way in Ferguson & St Louis County.

    1. @Aridog said he is surprised that it is still that way in St Louis —– Your money dried up and they always try new markets in St Louis and they have that circus down in the Central West End I was trying to tell you about that they are sucking the Government dry with. They still get people to come see ball games and it’s unsafe. N. County is full of Sex offenders and I know this because I have a paid for report when I was trying to find one of my kids and they were all around where he lived. Unbelievable. I just can’t even talk about it anymore right now because I am overwhelmed :I wish I could help these people but every time I try, I get sucked in. Right now My Brother in Law from first marriage just left. He was in ICU for 2 weeks and then in lockdown for god knows what. They said he said false positive for meth. I am trying to get his brothers up here and I wouldn’t pick him from the hospital because I was afraid he would drive his car off again and do the same thing again. (run into a ditch – I had his car towed out) So everyone is mad at me because I am responsible….I should take him back to St Louis and Set him up with Doctors. Right….. Feeling overwhelmed now so sorry about that.

  5. HappyPappies said …

    If we could get rid of that Political Machine in Clayton and get rid of that Mayor Slay in St. Louis that would be a Start.

    Dumping the criminal and corrupt in our area was the “start” here as well. Our last vile mayor is now doing 28 in a federal pen…which he deserves. We’ve had a couple since him who are honest and not machine bred. Our machine leader, who mentored the mayor in question, and his family, and a previous governor (Jenny the Dim) and countless other jerks (Jennifer was so inept even Obama wouldn’t hire her no matter how hard she sucked up for an administration position)…well good ole “Florida Ed” finally retired then died…and his machine with him.

    1. Aridog said Dumping the criminal and corrupt in our area was the “start” here as well. Our last vile mayor is now doing 28 in a federal pen…which he deserves. We’ve had a couple since him who are honest and not machine bred. Our machine leader, who mentored the mayor in question, and his family, and a previous governor (Jenny the Dim) and countless other jerks (Jennifer was so inept even Obama wouldn’t hire her no matter how hard she sucked up for an administration position)…well good ole “Florida Ed” finally retired then died…and his machine with him.

      I remember you saying this to me before very clearly. Mayor Slay is a Vampire elected by Dead Democrats and his last name might as well be Daly. Someone else just like him will take his place that has money to back them. I hate to be that way but that City is not like Detroit. They thrive on hate and mayhem and how they keep a baseball team and a football team there is through sheer hypocrisy. The problem is ignored and it is not safe. They will not send a bus to pick you up closer than 14th street and Tucker because of the problem. I lived there with my Husband in a Handicapped accessible apartment for 2 years until I got tired of the gun fire and the little parties between each little “park” as I rode my bike to and from the pharmacy and the grocery store in a coat to cover my identity as I am a tall woman and can disguise myself. There is a giant hospital complec there known as Barnes Hospital that is federally funded as a heart hospital and a school also (Washington University) is affiliated with it. All of this is tied in with fraud and graft up the wazoo. So there you have it. And everyone pretends it’s wonderful. My husband had seizures right before I had him sent up to a head trauma place in Cape Girardeau where he stayed on a list to go to the Veterans Home where he resides to this day. For 3 weeks I traveled up there and I was on my Bike. Very Interesting. Lots of Drugs being sold. Lots of Prostitution. Nothing being done about it. But all you hear about is Racism. I am sick of it.

      Mayor Slay wants limited violence – you can google that and he wants a ghetto and will make it so by banning the surveillance box so residents have more “privacy”

  6. HappyPappies….I have no experience comparable to yours, so I cannot argue the point…nor would I choose to under such circumstance. I now understand why you have the opinion you do, and it sounds justified. Let alone horrific in its own right. You force me to willingly agree that under certain circumstances your ideas are completely valid.

    My experience here is different, but, yes, there was one officer I knew who was as crazy as the 8 man killer you cited…he was medically (for psychiatric reasons) retired involuntarily.

    That said, I stand mute on your opinions on this subject henceforth. You have every reason on earth to have the opinions you harbor. I am very sorry that the situations occurred. About the time one thinks they understand life, $h*t happens and one is wrong.

    My “rapport” with police here is based upon multiple friendships with solid honest officers and on knowing that push come to shove they will protect, rather than abuse. There are politicians here who would argue that last point, one was mayor for 20 years in fact…and just like NYC, police enforcement dropped to near nil, as it will while De Blasio is mayor, in our case for 10 of those years.

    1. @Aridog – thank you for your understanding and support. I told a friend I know about this who had her Father abuse her and told her I actually kept this Policeman who was a member of our Church also away from other women that he lusted after. In other words, I protected them because I had already been soiled. I understand this is common because she said she did the same to keep her daughter away from her Grandfather. Be that as it may, this has been therapeutic for me as I could never talk about it before as I buried it and it all came out with this Ferguson thing like lancing a boil. So it’s good. My mind seems more focused and I am not dropping ideas and words as much when putting together paragraphs. I was so exited New Years Eve because I was figuring out things about computers that had never fallen into place before talking to Darren Smith about the Observer Effect and he was so sweet and patient talking to me and he made me feel important. It was so nice. Anyway, it has been very helpful to me to be here and I saw before when we were talking that your community was much different than ours was because it pulled together. That was what I was trying to tell you when I rescued the little Papillon Puppy Rosie and her former Mommie was a Latino Lady from Ferguson and she knew. She said, “It’s not a Black, Hispanic, White or Asian problem there, it is a Police Problem.” And it’s not just Ferguson but all those little municipalities in North County. I am not saying they are all bad because one of them bought one of my puppies and kept my big dog from being put down when he bit a 6 year old girl. He didn’t hurt her, she just scared him and he snapped at her. They just need some guidance there. If we could get rid of that Political Machine in Clayton and get rid of that Mayor Slay in St. Louis that would be a Start. I don’t live there anymore. I had to move my Husband to protect him. The Police here in Cape Girardeau are very Friendly.

      Anyway, things are good and all we can do is hope for the best. 🙂

  7. In another organizational thread, I mentioned that the Episcopal Church’s response in the midst of the build up and explosion in Ferguson in particular was pathetic. Oh there is/was self-reported prayer vigil and sanctuary in the churches. To quote a Bastogne commander….NUTS.

    Where were the clergy shirts (priests, deacons and bishops-purple shirts) linking arm in arm with congregants in front of the stores? While the cry went out “Burn the bitch down,” imagine a line or two linked arm in arm facing the forming rabble and blessing them…with news cameras and lights reporting. Anybody with a partial brain knew that no matter any good intention for a non-violent assembly and march, this was not going to be a MLK event.

    Witness the convenience store customer who frantically poured milk on a fire as vandals were setting it. BTW….the person was lady. At a local eatery, another lady stood her ground and faced down the miscreants who were going to torch it.

    Where was the leadership of churches?

    Where was the churches’ public denunciation of the destruction of innocent people’s livelihoods? Underline “innocent.”

    No matter which side one comes down on regarding the shooting(s), the Christian Churches’ leadership response was not our finest hour. Oh yes, witness is a translation of martyr (Greek).

    Protecting the innocent is part of our oath when ordained in the Episcopal Church. Two “little old ladies” put us to shame. (Please forgive me for the characterizations of the gallant women…I have no idea of their real physical attributes … But ladies, they were.)

  8. Aridog

    Okay – lets take these one at a time okay lololol

    HappyPappies…I can accept McConnell and Boehner IF they can manage to pass a actual annual 12 appropriation budget, with debate, on time…

    So, who couldn’t But they won’t. They are in it for the pork. They don’t care about what is good for the country which is why they are still there. Don’t you think a term limit amendment would be a good executive action? Seriously? He does everything else he wants and he seems to have a problem with Congress, why doesn’t he do that. Is he afraid of what they might do (lol)

    1) eulogizing police – women eulogize police – they think they keep them safe. It is sickening. This is my observation in SE Missouri. Maybe they do here. But I am not from here and I have been a victim of police brutality.

    2) I realize what you say is true. But realize what I say holds truth also. To give you an example, not using a name – a man I worked for owned 7 businesses used to be a STL cop and was let go because he killed 8 black people only that is not what he called them. He was from South St Louis and he hated them. He thought they were inferior. But nothing ever happened to him. This is common in St Louis. Is it common in Detroit?
    I was not only a victim of a gang rape but a Policeman raped me that I trusted and I never told anyone because he belonged to my church and I cleaned he and his girlfriends house and she did not trust me and thought all women came on to him. There, I never told anyone that before. I wonder how often it happens? I know it does a lot in that one stretch of Highway Patrol of Florida. Did you ever read Ann Rule? I have a friend who has passed away who was a Detective and was a woman and a Masters of Social Work who was a good good woman who was terribly abused and went in to change the system. I know what you say is true also. There is good also. We must be optimistic and always try to keep the balance.

    3) You seem to have great rapport with your police in Detroit.

  9. HappyPappies said …

    Things tend to get out of hand so can we please not eulogize the police in the big cities.

    1.) There we go with the deify/eulogize meme again. I don’t know anyone who does either.

    2.) I live in a big city and those men and women in uniform with badges, and even the plain clothes ones, are the very thin line between me and mine, including my neighbors, against anarchy per se.

    3.) I’d suggest one reason, among several, that we’ve not had “response riots” here, as in other cities, is because of good policing. Even Candy Crowley (just before she was canned) could not get the Detroit Police Chief, a black man with long experience here and in the LAPD, to slam other police…he spoke for his own and though struggling due to lack of sufficient manpower to cover our geography, they are doing well all considered. Enough so that a few investors here got together and provided new police cars and fire equipment to both services, police and fire. In short, I am not alone in my opinion.

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