U.S. Rep. Cori Bush claimed on social media that white supremacists shot at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, but the city’s police chief said he was unaware of any such incident.
Bush, a first-term Democrat from St. Louis, made her name as an activist leader in Ferguson after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown, who was Black, died in a street confrontation with a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Wilson was never charged but resigned in November 2014.
The shooting and a grand jury’s decision not to charge Wilson led to months of often-violent protests throughout the area.
Bush posted on Twitter and Facebook on Monday about the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third at a racial injustice protest last year in Kenosha, Wis.
“When we marched in Ferguson, white supremacists would hide behind a hill near where Michael Brown Jr. was murdered and shoot at us,” Bush wrote. “They never faced consequences.”
“If Kyle Rittenhouse gets acquitted, it tells them that even 7 years later they still can get away with it,” Bush wrote.
Ferguson Police Chief Frank McCall Jr. didn’t respond to phone and email messages on Tuesday. But he said that he wasn’t aware of any incidents in which white supremacists had fired on protesters. McCall was named chief in July. At the time of the Ferguson protests he worked in neighboring Berkeley.
Some people responded to Bush’s comments on social media by accusing her of lying. A campaign spokeswoman, in a statement, didn’t back down.
“While on the frontlines of the Ferguson Uprising, Congresswoman Bush and other activists were shot at by white supremacist vigilantes. The question we need to ask is why white supremacists feel empowered to open-carry rifles, incite violence, and put Black lives at risk across our country,” the statement read.
St. Louis-area activist Ohun Ashe, on Twitter, backed up Bush’s account.
“This is FACTS! I vividly remember hiding under porches in Canfield as shots were fired at us,” she wrote, referring to Canfield Apartments, near where Brown was killed. “No one came to help us. Ferguson police would be nearby. We would come from under porches using cars as shields in between gun shots to make it out.”
Days after Brown’s death, the Southern Poverty Law Center warned that Ku Klux Klan entities in at least three states planned to be in Ferguson.
Several armed members of the Oath Keepers, a group labeled as extremist by some hate-watchdog organizations, spent time in Ferguson, even though St. Louis County’s then-police chief, Jon Belmar, called their presence “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
No known members of either the KKK nor the Oath Keepers were charged in any shootings.
Bush announced Friday that she would seek another term representing Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. She defeated longtime incumbent Democrat William Lacy Clay in 2020.