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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Police, protesters again clash outside St. Louis after teen shooting

By Alan Scher Zagier, Associated Press

Published: Tue, Aug. 12 9:26 p.m. MDT

 St. Louis County police officers stand back to back as they attempt to move a crowd gathered in front of the QuikTrip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night that had gathered at the site of a burned-out convenience store damaged a night earlier, when many businesses in the area were looted.

St. Louis County police officers stand back to back as they attempt to move a crowd gathered in front of the QuikTrip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night that had gathered at the site of a burned-out convenience store damaged a night earlier, when many businesses in the area were looted.

(Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Associated Press)

FERGUSON, Mo. — Police in riot gear fired tear gas into a crowd of protesters in a St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teenager had been fatally shot by police over the weekend, as tension rose even amid calls for collective calm.

Between two nights of unrest, a community forum hosted by the local NAACP chapter Monday night drew hundreds to a sweltering church in Ferguson, the nearly 70 percent black St. Louis County suburb where an unarmed 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was shot multiple times by a police officer.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said a large crowd that gathered throughout Monday at the site of a burned-out convenience store turned rowdy at nightfall, throwing rocks at police. Officers used tear gas and shot "beanbag rounds" meant to stun them, he said.

St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said there were at least five arrests and no reports of looting. Nearly three dozen people were arrested following a candlelight vigil Sunday night when crowds burned stores, vandalized vehicles, assaulted reporters and taunted officers.

"People are tired. They have reached the end of their rope," said Ruth Latchison Nichols after the NAACP forum, where many more were left waiting outside once the pews reached capacity. "Enough is enough. This is a state of emergency."

Early Tuesday, the streets of Ferguson were once again calm. A handful of police officers sat in patrol cars near a burned out gas station, vastly outnumbered by the news crews putting together their early reports.

National NAACP President Cornell William Brooks implored residents to "turn your anger into action" while condemning the violent response to Brown's death.

"To sneak around under the cover of darkness, to steal, to loot, to burn down your neighborhood — this does not require courage," he said. "Courage is when you strive for justice."

"Martin Luther King did not live and die so that we may steal and lie in the middle of the night," he added.

The FBI has opened an investigation into Brown's death, looking into possible civil rights violations. Witnesses have said that Brown had his hands raised when the unidentified officer approached with his weapon drawn and fired repeatedly.

Brown's parents have been among those calling for calm. His family, who had planned to drop him off at a technical college Monday to begin his studies, have asked people to share any information and videos they might have related to the shooting.

Authorities have been vague about what led the officer to open fire, saying only that the shooting — which is being investigated by the St. Louis County police at the smaller city's request — was preceded by a scuffle of some kind with a man in which the officer's weapon discharged once inside a patrol car.

Investigators have refused to publicly disclose the race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave. But Phillip Walker said he was on the porch of an apartment complex overlooking the scene when he heard a shot and saw a white officer with Brown on the street.

Brown "was giving up in the sense of raising his arms and being subdued," Walker told The Associated Press. The officer "had his gun raised and started shooting the individual in the chest multiple times." The officer then "stood over him and shot him" after the victim fell wounded.

Dorian Johnson offered a similar account, telling KMOV-TV that he and Brown were walking home from a convenience store when a police officer told them to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Johnson said they kept walking, which caused the officer to confront them from his car and again after getting out of the vehicle.

Johnson said the first time the officer fired, he and Brown got scared and ran away.

"He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air, and he started to get down," Johnson said. "But the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots."

"We wasn't causing harm to nobody," Johnson said. "We had no weapons on us at all."

Walker said that he did not see a scuffle or the circumstances that preceded the first gunshot.

Jackson, the Ferguson police chief, said there's no video footage of the shooting from the apartment complex or from any police dashboard cameras or body-worn cameras that the department recently bought but has not yet put to use.

Some civil rights leaders have drawn comparisons between Brown's death and that of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was later acquitted of murder charges.

"Instead of celebrating his future, they are having to plan his funeral," said Benjamin Crump, a family attorney who also represented Martin's relatives after he was slain in 2012 in Florida.

I don't want to sugarcoat it," Crump added. Brown "was executed in broad daylight."

Associated Press reporters Jim Salter, Jeff Roberson, Jim Suhr and David Lieb in Ferguson and Eric Tucker in Washington and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report. Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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1. Brio
Alpine, UT,
Aug. 12, 2014

If reports are accurate, then this was wrong and should be prosecuted.
But according to statistics, Blacks kill other Blacks almost daily in cities like Chicago... sometimes even in somewhat similar circumstances where outright murder is involved. And yet Black society and media news says and does almost nothing about it. In fact, they often go out of their way to ignore and even downplay such actions.
Aren't many of those deaths just as tragic as this one?

When a White person is involved in a single death of a Black, holy heck then breaks lose, including significant civil unrest including multiple felony actions. Some young Blacks use it as an excuse to rob, plunder, destroy and steal. They are filmed running out of stores carrying arm-loads of stolen goods. And this is supposedly done "in the name of justice"? What a farce!

Obviously a double standard... both directions... when race is involved.

2. Maudine
SLC, UT,
Aug. 12, 2014

@ Brio: Your reasoning seems to be that because criminals commit criminal acts at a higher rate than police ifficers commit criminal acts, people shouldn't get upset when police are the criminals - and getting upset when police commit crimes is hypocrisy because they should be held to the same low standards as criminals.

How does that even pretend to make sense?

It is tragic when one person kills another - but I think we have a right to be a little more upset when the person accused of committing a crime is someone who has sworn to uphold the law and serve and protect.

Maybe the real problem lies with those who are unable to distinguish harm between a crime committed by criminals and the same crimes committed by police officers.

3. Brio
Alpine, UT,
Aug. 12, 2014

@ Maudine:

What actually doesn't make any sense is your complete misinterpretation of my statement. This isn't the first time you've tried to skew the meaning of one of my comments with your liberal rhetoric.
Let's try again. Read my comment again, but more slowly this time.

My reasoning is that there is never justifiable excuse to follow one criminal act in response to another. It's not that difficult to understand.

There are right ways to respond to injustices and there are wrong ways. The riots and selfish looting that followed the shooting were definitely the wrong way. People can be upset about injustices without acting like lawless savages.
It was confirmed that most of the perpetrators were from outside the area and probably didn't know the victim. As such, it's surmised by other authorities that the perpetrators used the shooting as an excuse to come there to loot and rob.
Is this still going over your head?

My other point is that a Black person killing another Black is every bit as bad as a White person killing a Black person. But society often doesn't treat the two equally. A double standard.

4. Objectified
Richfield, UT,
Aug. 12, 2014

@ maudine...

Read the first sentence in Brio's first comment. He (or she) plainly stated that if the report of the police killing the victim is accurate, then that officer should be prosecuted.
That alone makes your comment a wrongful judgment of his (or hers).
Brio never once claimed people shouldn't get upset toward a wrongful police action. But they should also be held responsible for their subsequent reactions with regard to the law. Personally, I watched some of the looting and property destruction on TV and thought it was reprehensible. I don't know how you can justify it in any way, shape or form.

The small business owners whose stores were badly damaged and/or destroyed had absolutely nothing to do with the shooting incident. And yet the looters put them out of business and don't care a hoot about them or their families. How can you possible condone such actions??

In truth, it's your comment making excuses for the looters that doesn't even pretend to make any sense. Nor does it. You seemed to have totally missed what the real problem is.