On one corner of a battered stretch of West Florissant Avenue, the epicenter of ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo., young men pull dark scarves up over their mouths and lob molotov cocktails at police from behind makeshift barricades built of bricks and wood planks. They call the gasoline-filled bottles "poor man's bombs."
The young men yell expletives and speak about securing justice for Michael Brown, the black teen fatally shot Aug. 9 by a white police officer, "by any means necessary," the Chicago Tribune reports.
They are known here as "the militants" — a faction inhabiting the hard-core end of a spectrum that includes online organizers and opportunistic looters — and their numbers have been growing with the severity of their tactics since the shooting.
Some of the men are from the area; many others -- it is hard to quantify the percentage -- have arrived by bus and by car from Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn and elsewhere.
"This is not the time for no peace," said one man, a 27-year-old who made the trip here from Chicago. "We are jobless men, and this is our job now -- getting justice," he said. "If that means violence, that's OK by me. They've been doing this to us for years."
Among those who have arrived are self-described young activists, some of whom participated in the Occupy movement. Many of them are white and have been showing protesters how to assemble homemade gas masks — essentially surgical masks fortified with duct tape.