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. HappyPappies…I can accept McConnell and Boehner IF they can manage to pass a actual annual 12 appropriation budget, with debate, on time…e.g., by 30 September 2015 for FY 2016. Then let the President decide if he was to be the executive of “no.” Otherwise, I’ll agree with you and say they need to go. We really cannot continue to exist much longer as a Republic with just CR’s every year…it’s a cop out that favors the manipulators in DC. Been there and seen it, felt it, and was angered by it. A problem is that I’d guess 90% or so of the population does not know how CR’s really (under the laws governing them) work and how much funding is up for grabs and mis-allocation….e.g., most of it. The recent “CRomnibus” is not different, just waste in one wad….for application of “memos” to at will.

  2. rcocean – I don’t hate all Cops and they are nice out here in the country where I live now. But they are not especially ethical in the bit city. It is well known in New York they deal dope in order to bust up the Heroin Rings. Just an example. Things tend to get out of hand so can we please not eulogize the police in the big cities. They are a problem and it is a good thing there are web cams now. I used to live in that Ferguson North County Area and it does NOT matter what color your skin is to be abused. I am not a communist or a criminal.

  3. Autopsy: LA police shot Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man, 3 times, including once in back

    The autopsy of Ezell Ford, a mentally ill black man killed by police in South Los Angeles in August, shows he was shot three times — once in the right side, once in the right back and once in the right arm.

    The release of the autopsy Monday marks the first time authorities have provided details about Ford’s wounds since his Aug. 11 death.

    The gunshot wound on his back showed the surrounding skin had a “muzzle imprint,” according to the autopsy, suggesting the shot was made at very close range. The autopsy said the back and side gunshot wounds were fatal.

    Apparently all you have to do as a cop is say someone reached” for your gun and, easy peasey bob’s your uncle, you are on a paid vacation in Acapulco.

  4. “More knee-jerk, dog-whistle click-bait for the deranged and confirmed racists.”

    I agree and Inga should stop doing it.

  5. Inga, oh Inga, you couldn’t be more wrong. I respect your freedom to say what you want. You must respect others, with true knowledge, to question your premise.

  6. Nick Spinelli
    We are evil incarnate. We are Satan.
    Nick, you hate this country! You hate your country!
    WE are neither evil nor satan, we ARE the greatest country on earth, no doubt about that!
    This the country that gave you your life, your profession, your livelihood, if you don’t like it, you can just go back to Italy where your ancestors came from.
    I think what you saying is downright treasonous, some people have been shot for less!
    As an immigrant, I am fortunate to be here, to be educated here, to live and work here and have my children grow up here, like millions of immigrants like me!
    Some people just can’t count their blessings.

    1. kat Harris, profit is either reinvested in the company for new products and new jobs. Or it’s returned to the investor who risked losing the money.

      Your statement is just plain stupid – check with Gruber’s for explanation!

    2. kat Harris – the world would be neither feed nor housed without the profit motive. Get a grip on reality. Did you build your own home? Do you have disposable income? Do you grow your own food? How do you think big cities got big? The profit motive. Cheap Texas cattle driven to rail-heads in Kansas and shipped back East where they supplied cheap beef to a growing population.

  7. po, I have worked in both the criminal and civil justice systems for 4 decades. Having you lecture me on a Huffington Post or Daily Kos version of our justice systems is, well let’s say, special..just really special. You do not understand the basics, but are full of.. anecdotes, that’s the ticket, you’re full of anecdotes. I get it “THE US SUCKS!!”

  8. You know who was glad he lived in Poville, Nick, or somewhere near (in this case Pakistan)? The CIA guy who killed a couple of Pakistanis. The US was quick to offer blood money and scurry him out of the country…

    You know the money we pay to the families of people we blow up via drones all over Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan…yep, blood money!

    You know the money corporations pay when their product kills someone, and the CEO doesn’t go to jail? Yes, all together now, BLOOD MONEY!

    Do you know the money your police departments pays to the families of those black kids they keep killing all over the country so that no one goes to jail and so it keeps happening again and again…? One more time please… DBQ, I can’t hear you…BLOOD MONEY!

    Blood money is built into the system…and finds its expression in some form or another…that is why one has the option to pursue for damages in civil court for monetary or equity redress separately from the criminal process.

    In many cases one is not even allowed the criminal redress, solely the civil relief (blood money.)

    1. Po, the difference between the United States and Everywhere else is when we are “satan” we do not deny it. You know why? Because we have freedom of speech and as long as that right is protected, someone will always speak out when there is oppression.

      I follow these things very closely Po as I have a friend and a whole 66 Facebook Friend that live in Pakistan – Muddrick is his name – it is not an easy relationship – I learned about the belief in Jesus you had and so forth. however – you are not innocent and he is proud of the ISI –

      A 2010 entry, for example, describes hitting a location “at the request of your government.” Another from that year refers to a “network of locations associated with a joint CIA-ISI targeting effort.”

      The files also contain fragments of code words — including SYL-MAG, an abbreviation of Sylvan Magnolia — that correspond to covert drone operations. The code word was later changed to Arbor-Hawthorn.

      small example – just and excerpt

      Another example of the USA trying to be fair in spite of what I am hearing about.
      When we test our children in public schools, we test them all together. From those with an 80 iq to those upward to 160. Right now we are on a downward curve and the world is laughing at us because we don’t have the high scores like the Japanese and the Russians and Chinese – never mind the fact they skew their test results to the smartest in the clases. but we don’t care because we try to give everyone a chance. Then the colleges will start complaining again and the standards will raise again. It happens over and over again and anyone who is in education knows this. My mother was in it and her friends were.

      People need to take the News as entertainment as well as information and check the facts on their own. Like the Weather.

      I am very tired of everyone acting like Obama is the end of the world. We will survive Obama. Why give him that much power. He is not that strong of a President. He will be gone soon and all we have to do is wait him out and have our deductive reasoning and problem solving skills ready.

      I would hope everyone in this blog understands that these are all cyclic things and we are still getting used to the removal of the Fairness Doctrine on TV and the Radio.

      1. happypappies – there is a truism in teaching that a student can survive a bad teacher every other year if they have a good teacher every other year. My fear with Obama is who follows him, another bad president or a good president?

        1. Paul C. Schulte – About the truism – the good president following the bad president.

          When I was in College my History Professor was probably close to 70 and it was my favorite subject. He said, “I am an optimist, all we can do is try our best and hope the rest of the world will catch up eventually to our example that we set because if we lose our rights, we will be like Rome and we will no longer be a Republic but an Empire.”

          Now, I know everyone keeps screaming about socialism but that is how we would be controlled by the empire because there is enough “wealth” to keep ignorant people happy and have them give up their rights.

          The President is only one branch of the government. Perhaps if we get that dreaded woman in there which I don’t want any more than you do – she will be enough of a hypocrite to pass some of the laws to help the economy like her Husband did especially if they get Mitch McConnell out of there. Just speculating on worse case scenarios lololol 😉 Man – he looks senile and he is only 5 years older than my Husband lololol

          1. happypappies – the Democrats seem to be running Hillary and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary appears to be vulnerable so that leaves the field open. Biden may want a shot.

        2. @Paul C. Schulte – I realize that you think that Psychology is an artform and all but I think that Elizabeth Warren is Animus Possessed in a big way in the Greek stone head way. – Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren claims much of the credit for the Occupy Wall Street protests sweeping the nation.
          “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” the Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration consumer advocate told Samuel P. Jacobs of The Daily Beast. “I support what they do.”

          Furthermore – she doesn’t have anyone to hold her Progressive Pitty Patty feet to the ground – does this sound familiar – “I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

          No, that is not Barack Obama –

          1. happypappies – I know that Elizabeth Warren was very carefully stage managed into her position and stays in her position with sound bites that do not fit the situation she is speaking from. She is also the anointed one of the Obama faction of the Democratic party. The question is, is she willing to duke it out with the Clinton’s, who can hit below the belt, or not?

            1. Paul C. Schulte – or is she ready for the Democratic Party Machine

              She has crossover appeal. But she didn’t get the memo to make her party sound indistinguishable from the Republicans when it came to the Wall Street Banks. She preaches that populism and that is what I meant about her little “genius” she is so proud of. The Clinton’s might just sit back and watch. 😉

  9. po, Have you ever read a criminal complaint?? It is always The State of Missouri, New York, etc. v Joe Blow or US v Ted Kaczyinski. The reason is quite profound. When you commit a crime, burning down someone’s business, or killing a cop, you are committing a crime AGAINST ALL OF US, not just the victim. And, the state or federal govt. prosecute the defendant on behalf of ALL CITIZENS. You’re having the victim’s family decide the punishment is ANTITHETICAL to our entire criminal justice system. I’m glad I don’t live anywhere Poville, where 3rd world justice is the rule.

  10. * in response to my reply to DBQ.

    By the way, Inga has a good insight in people, I say we all listen to her, especially yous, Nick and Paul.

    1. po – I know far too much about Inga to listen to anything she has to say about anyone.

  11. Paul C. Schulte
    po – there is nothing wrong with hitting home runs with lows balls. Blame the batter not the pitcher.
    Paul, that would be the proper thing to do, but where would the fun be if I did not blame someone else?
    Po you said …

    Do you agree with me about Trooper or not?

    I support Trooper. But you’re entitled to your opinion
    But Ari, your previous experience with Trooper has nothing to do with mine. My first encounter with him wasn’t bad, because he tried to debate his points using some form of argumentation. I responded to him in kind. We did not agree but left it at that.

    This time around he upped the ante by going straight to the jugular, with the ad hominem attacks you decry when you thought they came from me.
    I have shown that you were mistaken, he started it…yet your response is still to give him a pass because he is a good guy to you?!
    In response to DBQ he said this:

    Christians need not take any advice from a vile Anti-Semite.
    Then followed up with that :
    If he stabs you because you a Jew it is just because he is following the dictates of his faith.
    If he is a good guy, he hasn’t shown it. At least not to me.
    Only two people accuse me of being antisemitic, Nick and Trooper.
    When Nick makes similar comments, I don’t take offense to it, because I know him longer, and know that in spite of his issues (many) he is a good guy deep (very)down. I also understand that when he cannot keep up intellectually, he does resort to name calling, and that this is turf after all so he must protect it even by throwing pee around.
    trooper however hasn’t earned that pass. Show some redeeming quality first to help me overlook the obnoxiousness…

  12. Po you said …

    Do you agree with me about Trooper or not?

    I support Trooper. But you’re entitled to your opinion. Mine is informed by close relationships with Israelis and Muslims, as well as the sundry folks different than me in my town, Detroit. My experience is a fair bit wider than just in Detroit. It is further informed by, in the past, my originally rather nastily demeaning Trooper, and subsequently finding out I was wrong about him. He had the grace to accept my apology. He can be sharp in his remarks, but has far more good qualities than any bad I am qualified to criticize.

    As I said, disagree or not, depending on the topical matter, I still read your comments. Most of the time I find something I can support, even learn from, and at other times, those I cannot. 1st Amendment and all that…. 🙂

  13. Steve H. > > “…Ferguson” has served to deepen and widen negative stereotypes and prejudices…”

    This is known as dog whistle politic and without it all the Regressives have is transvaginal exercises in abridgement of civil liberties and tax cuts and regulatory immunity for corporate oligarchs.

  14. Steve H. > > “…Ferguson” has served to deepen and widen negative stereotypes and prejudices…”

    As I am sure you know by now, Regresives do not actually have the ability to govern, they are the enemy of government. All they can do, in that case, is to whip up social issues to the point where it seems whtever hatred they instill (Ferguson) reaches critical mass among the vast swathes of poorly educated voters that they depend upon for their base intolerance and bigotry.

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