The photo, and the reaction to it, crystallized Ferguson’s uprising this month in all its anger and strangeness: a demonstrator in an American flag shirt, holding a bag of chips in one hand while hurling a canister of tear gas back at police with the other, leaving an arabesque of smoke in his wake.
The image became so well-known that a man who said he was the demonstrator put details for booking requests on his Twitter profile. He got thousands of new Twitter followers.
It’s become apparent that anyone who has played a contributing role in this city’s unsteady vortex has been reshaped in it. Along with fostering celebrity, events here have taken on a ritualistic quality, with protesters gathering night after night along a small stretch of West Florissant Avenue. “During the day, it’s a spectacle. At night, it’s a war zone,” Wes Suber, a 26-year-old sociology student from Ferguson, said one night this week.