Scott Olson

Protesters in Ferguson, Mo. were referred to as "enemy forces" and "adversaries" by troops from the Missouri National Guard, according to new documents obtained by CNN.

The documents, which have not been released in full, reportedly show that heavily militarized language was used in referring to the popular protests that hit the town after the controversial shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.


National Guard troops were called in to assist law enforcement officials at the height of the protests last August, and again in November. The mobilization of the troops to quell protests drew controversy, as spectators said it conflated the "protect and serve" mandate of police work with the militarized training of troops, who are taught to deal with enemy combatants.

The documents also reportedly showed that the National Guard was "very concerned" about the perception of being deployed. At one point, commanders told troops to stop using the militarized language to describe the protesters:

Two days after the deployment, an email from Boyle warned of potential consequences from using language that could be "construed as potentially inflammatory." Two days after that, notification was sent to commanding officers stating that "all reference of 'enemy' were changed to state 'criminal elements'."


Still, CNN reports that some National Guard officials stand by the use of the language as a matter of standard procedure:

In an email to CNN, [National Guard Capt. John Quinn] said the documents used in the Ferguson mission briefings were "a generic military planning format utilized in a wide range of military missions, so the term 'enemy forces' would be better understood as 'potential threats.' Often in Guard operations, threats would include inclement weather, heat, failing levees, etc."

Several other documents reportedly showed National Guard troops how to respond to possible attacks by "Molotov cocktails, rocks and other debris" that they might encounter.


One document titled "Operation Show-Me Protection II," which outlined the troops' mission in Ferguson, made a list of groups on the ground who were deemed "Friendly Forces" and "Enemy Forces."

Among the organizations that were listed as "hate groups" in the document: the Ku Klux Klan, the RgB Black Rebels, the New Black Panther Party.

And lastly, "General Protesters."

Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.