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Why Are There Protests in Ferguson Again?

What difference does a year make? Not much.

Arrests, protests, lines of police, reports of gunfire, and even a police-involved shooting. In Ferguson, Missouri. One year after a young, unarmed black man named Michael Brown was shot to death by a cop.

What's going on? Why are there protests in Ferguson again? We have it all here for you.

First, let's recap what happened in Ferguson in 2014

Michael Brown's death in Ferguson is still felt today. (Jamelle Bouie / Flickr)

On August 9th, 2014, a police officer by the name of Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Outrage erupted almost immediately over, among other things, how police handled the situation--with deadly force. Protests erupted immediately in Ferguson.

In November 2014, a grand jury investigation decided that Officer Wilson wouldn't be charged with a crime. An uprising broke out in Ferguson and protests sprang up across the country, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement was born.

Over the past year, Americans being hurt or killed by police--particularly people of color--has become a major point of focus in the national conversation. That conversation has included other high-profile deaths, like those of Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Sandra Bland in Texas.

Why and when did protests start in Ferguson this time?

Sunday was the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

Many gathered in St. Louis to remember him with a peaceful weekend of marches, memorials, and more.

Then things took a turn on Sunday night.

When did things escalate?

There was a moment of silence at the Canfield Green Apartments where Brown was shot. There was also a peaceful march from West Florissant Avenue to the Ferguson Police Department.

And the police came in full force, angering and frustrating many on the ground.

Then gunfire was heard. People ran.

A young black man named Tyrone Harris allegedly shot at police, who shot back. The teenager was badly wounded in the gunfire.

It was kind of an eerie flashback to what happened a year ago.

What happened Monday

Monday was a planned day of civil disobedience. (That's a form of protest in which people non-violently disobey the law, famously used by leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.)

A group of protesters held a sit-in outside a federal courthouse in St. Louis. Their demands? That the Department of Justice "do its job" on American policing and racial issues. There were arrests.

In another act of civil disobedience, protesters shut down a St. Louis area highway later in the day.

A state of emergency was declared in St. Louis County.

And reporters from The Washington Post and Huffington Post who were arrested in a Ferguson McDonald's last summer were officially and formally charged with trespassing and interfering with an officer. They have to show up in court later this month.

What happened in Ferguson last night?

Things had escalated after a long day of protests and dozens of arrests. Protesters went to West Florissant Avenue. The police were there, in riot gear.

St. Louis County Police said rocks and bottles and frozen water bottles were thrown at officers.

So police called the demonstration an unlawful assembly and moved in.

(Remember, the First Amendment guarantees "the right of the people peaceably to assemble.")

One young girl arrested by police looked like she was 12 years old. Many people tweeted in anger and awe that a such thing happened. St. Louis County Police tweeted that she's 18 years old.

And a journalist named Ryan J. Reilly--the same Huff Post reporter who was charged with trespassing and interfering with police last year--was pushed by a police officer, who also almost took off his press badge. Reilly yelled out loud, "I'm media, I'm media."

Who are the Oath Keepers?

There's also a lot of talk right now about a group of called the Oath Keepers. It's armed citizen militia.

Some say police retreated and left late last night and then the Oath Keepers moved in with their big guns. It was kind of off-putting to some protesters.

People are comparing the Oath Keepers with unarmed protesters, discussing which group is more threatening, and the racial differences in the two groups in Ferguson: the protesters are mostly black, and the militia is largely white.

With all of this happening in Ferguson and with the national discussion on race and police tactics, there are vastly different points of view on the same events.

What now?

Today is the second day of the state of emergency in St. Louis County. The city of Ferguson is on edge after a few tumultuous days of protest, violence, and remembrance.

For now, we'll have to see what develops next. In the meantime, here are a few ways you can take action.

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Why Are There Protests in Ferguson Again?

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a freelance international news reporter, having contributed to The Atlantic online and Mic. He's worked at CNNMoney, the New York Daily News, and Voice of America. Patrick loves tweeting, reading, and grabbing coffee in either New York or Washington D.C. Tweet anything on politics or world conflict to him! Follow: @patrickdehahn.

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