From the beginning, the reactions of the public and protestors following the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, were perplexing. How was it that the one metropolitan region that escaped the worst of the riots in the 1960s was suddenly exploding over an obvious thug being shot and killed by a law enforcement officer after a struggle.
It was most perplexing as was the weeks of headlines that portrayed a racially divided city where violence had been minimal for decades.
And then the protests started.
Across the internet, and on television, many of the same people kept popping up. Some were obvious agitators. Others were caught up in the heat of the moment. Still more thought they really were on the side of right.
Four and a half years later, something else is in the air as those who were the most visible and active in the protests are turning up dead, and others are claiming harassment.
One of the first activists to die was Deandre Joshua, according to the Associated Press. Joshua, 20, was shot in the head before his car was torched.
Darren Seals, who was shown on video during the night of the protests comforting Brown’s mother, was shot multiple times with his body torched in a vehicle as well in September 2016.
Four others had also died, three of them ruled suicides.
MarShawn McCarrell, an Ohio man who was an activist in Ferguson, shot himself outside the Ohio Statehouse in February 2016, police said.
Edward Crawford Jr., 27, shot himself in May 2017 after telling his friends he was upset over personal issues, police said. Crawford was seen in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo firing a canister back at Ferguson police during the protests.
Danye Jones, 24, was found hanging from a tree in a yard north of his home in October. His mother claimed that he had been lynched but the death was ruled a suicide, according to the Associated Press.
Bassem Masri, 31, was found unresponsive on a bus and toxicology results showed he had died as a result of a fentanyl overdose. The Palestinian American had live-streamed Ferguson demonstrations.
Another active person in the ordeal found a python in his car, and yet another claims harassment of some sort. The details are sketchy.
At this time, the police have no solid evidence to connect any of this other than participation in Ferguson. But, the people involved are sure there is one. For them, the usual suspects may well be guilty, i.e., white supremacists who just happen to target this particular group.