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In Ferguson, Family Takes Turns Guarding Front Door


This morning we're hearing about people in Ferguson, Missouri, are dealing with the nightly clashes between protesters and police. When tensions on the street escalated on Sunday night, St. Louis public radio reporters Stephanie Lecci and Durrie Bouscaren hid out in one family's house and learned how that family is coping. Here's Durrie Bouscaren.

BOUSCAREN: We met the Moore family in the middle of the night, after running from tear gas and gunfire during Sunday night's clash between police and protesters. With nowhere to go, we knocked on the door of a house with the lights still on. Irma Moore let us in. Moore's five children were snuggled into blankets on the living-room couch, watching the local news station broadcasting the violence just a block away.

That's at the gas station, right? This is at the gas station?

IRMA MOORE: Now I just want it all to end because this is day nine of being up all night and, you know, somebody on watch, whether it be my son, my husband, something.

BOUSCAREN: Moore is an assistant principal at the Dewey International Studies School in St. Louis. She moved to the neighborhood in 2007 because it was quiet. It's down the street from a police station and walking distance to the local high school. Most of the Moore's neighbors are elderly. She says many of them left earlier in the week, checking into hotels to wait out the violence. The Moore's stayed, worried their home would be broken into. But the family is paying a price for that decision.

MOORE: And they, you know, sprayed all of that tear gas up there by Save-A-Lot. You could just (groans) woke up with your face itching. Every time they spray something, we all are like turn the air off because you can - it's like our house gets filled with not necessarily smoke, but you know how, like, you have a gas leak somewhere? It comes right through.

BOUSCAREN: Moore's youngest child is three. Her oldest is 16. Ten-year-old Breadora says it's been a sad week.

DURRIE BREADORA: I can't go to sleep. I just hear shots and stuff. I can't go to, like, soccer practice and I can't go outside and play and go to bed at night.

BOUSCAREN: Moore says the shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer resonated with her.

MOORE: You know, the very person or individual that should be protecting him took his life. I think back about my own son.

BOUSCAREN: That's 15-year-old Marcus, who's sitting in the corner.

MOORE: You know, he's been arrested by Ferguson since we've lived here, for skateboarding with his friends on this lot back before that little chicken place was there. They put him in handcuffs, threw him in the back of the car. And my son is an honor roll student who's never been in trouble at school ever.

BOUSCAREN: But tonight, Marcus sits with a baseball bat by his side. He and his father take turns staying awake through the night, watching the front door. He says he's given thought to why some protesters have turned to violence and looting.

MARCUS: I understand that they're trying to make it for a cause, but it really isn't. It's just, like, scattered ignorance. All our places are ruined because they've been rioting and everything. There's innocent people out there that they're firing at.

BOUSCAREN: With that, Marcus turns his attention back to the television, which shows a man fall to the ground, apparently shot by a rubber bullet - less than a mile away.

MARCUS: That's crazy. Just, why?

BOUSCAREN: After things quieted down, Moore's husband drove me back to our cars so we could get home safely. But for many who live here, daily life won't be safe for quite some time. For NPR News, I'm Durrie Bouscaren in Ferguson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Durrie Bouscaren was a general assignment reporter with Iowa Public Radio from March 2013 through July 2014.