News / USA

Protests Ramp Up Following Shooting Death of Black Teen

  • Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton speaks to a community gathering at Greater St. Mark Family Church in Ferguson, Missouri, August 17, 2014.
  • People defy a curfew, Aug. 17, 2014, before smoke and tear gas was fired to disperse a crowd protesting the shooting of teenager Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • Law enforcement officers wait to advance, Aug. 17, 2014, after firing tear gas to disperse a crowd in Ferguson.
  • Protesters gesture as they stand in a street in defiance of a midnight curfew in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 17, 2014.
  • A law enforcement officer watches, Aug. 17, 2014, as tear gas is fired to disperse a crowd protesting the shooting of teenager Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson.
  • A law enforcement officer aims his rifle, Aug. 17, 2014, after tear gas was fired to disperse a crowd protesting the shooting of teenager Michael Brown last Saturday in Ferguson.
  • A protester reaches down to throw back a smoke canister as police clear a street after the passing of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 17, 2014.
  • People defy a curfew, Aug. 17, 2014, before smoke and tear gas was fired to disperse a crowd in Ferguson.
  • A law enforcement officers check a building, Aug. 17, 2014, after tear gas was fired to disperse protesters in Ferguson.
  • Demonstrators weep on each others shoulders as masked individuals break into a store in Ferguson, Aug. 16, 2014.
  • Masked individuals carry items out of a store in Ferguson, Aug. 16, 2014.
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declares a state of emergency and curfew in response to looting the previous night in Ferguson, Aug. 16, 2014.
  • A man protests the police shooting death of Michael Brown a week ago in Ferguson, Aug. 16, 2014.
VOA News

Angry protesters again took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, late Sunday, following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

Television footage showed heavily armed police officers apparently firing tear gas at the protesters who tried marching toward them.

The police are preparing to enforce a curfew for the second straight night.  The curfew begins at midnight local time and runs until 5 a.m.

Speaking at a rally in Ferguson attended by hundreds of people, including the victim's parents, civil rghts leader Rev. Al Sharpton called the teenagers shooting by a white police officer a "defining moment" for the United States.

Meanwhile, the federal government announced on Sunday that it will conduct a separate autopsy in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.

The incident set off daily protests in Ferguson as well as rallies in other parts the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, results from the federal and state autopsies will be considered during the investigation of the shooting.

"Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner," agency spokesman Brian Fallon said in a written statement on Sunday.

Seven people were arrested early Sunday as police used smoke and tear gas to enforce a curfew in Ferguson.

Missouri state police say they responded strongly Sunday out of fear for officers' safety.  Police say one person was critically injured in a shooting nearby that appeared unrelated to the protests.

Governor sets curfew

On Sunday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the five-hour curfew in Ferguson, imposed on Saturday after several days of protests following the shooting death of Brown a week ago, had helped maintain peace.

Asked on CNN's program State of the Union on Sunday how long the curfew in the St. Louis suburb would continue, Nixon said the duration would be “judged by the community.”

Nixon also said on Sunday that he appreciates the parallel investigation into the police shooting death that is being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department.

“I think that having the dual investigations will guarantee that it gets done in a timely fashion, that it's done thoroughly and that it gets justice,” Nixon said.

Earlier Sunday, scores of demonstrators had remained in the streets after the curfew took effect.

Law enforcement officials used loudspeakers to warn protesters to disperse immediately. Officers, equipped with gas masks and full-length shields, stood among and on top of armored vehicles.

Nixon said Saturday the state of emergency was not to silence people but to contain a handful of looters who are endangering the community. 

State trooper in charge

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who was named by the governor this week to oversee security in the town, said protesters weren't the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday morning.

Johnson said they responded strongly Sunday out of fear for officers' safety. 

Johnson said canisters of smoke and later tear gas were fired as part of police attempts to reach the victim of a shooting at a restaurant, “and not in relation to the curfew.”

The person shot at a restaurant during the night was in critical condition, Johnson said. Police were unable to identify the victim, whom Johnson said was not shot by police.

The wounded person was taken to hospital by bystanders before police could reach him.

Johnson also said someone had shot at a passing police car but was not apprehended.

He said a city curfew will run each night from midnight until 5 a.m. until further notice.

The governor told CNN on Sunday tensions in Ferguson were likely to remain high, citing the community response as "raw and appropriate."

Tensions raised on Friday

Brown's family and supporters have demanded for days that the officer who shot Brown be held accountable.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the shooting for any civil rights violations, and the St. Louis County Police department is also investigating the shooting.

For days, police repeatedly refused to identify the officer involved, citing concerns for his safety. On Friday, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson gave in to community pressure and identified Darren Wilson, 28, as the officer involved.

But at the same time, Jackson added to the community's outrage when he announced Brown had been a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store at the time he was shot.

Jackson later told a news conference that when Wilson shot Brown, the officer did not know the teen was a suspect in the robbery. There was no connection between the shooting and the alleged robbery, Jackson said.

Nixon said the release of the video was “not right.”

“Quite frankly we disagree deeply.  I think for two reasons, number one to attempt, in essence, to disparage the character of this victim in the middle of a process like this is not right.  It's just not right.  And secondarily, it did put the community and quite frankly the region and the nation on alert again," Nixon said.

“I think it had an incendiary effect,” he said on CBS' Face the Nation, adding police “clearly are attempting to besmirch a victim of a shooting.”

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Brown's family, said in a statement issued on Friday that the family was “beyond outraged” at the police attempts to “assassinate the character of their son.”

Other law enforcement agencies have criticized the Ferguson police department for trying to make the alleged robbery an issue connected to the shooting, and for releasing a video from inside the store that shows Brown violently shoving a store clerk before he walks out the door.

The U.S. Justice Department asked Ferguson police on Thursday not to release the video, out of a concern it would roil the community further, but on Friday it was released over the objections of federal officials, said a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, Texas
August 18, 2014 1:47 PM
While our federal Justice dept. along with the Missouri state govt. do promise parallel investigations, it's necessary for our people to restrain creating chaotic situations at Ferguson. Governer Nixon and the leading politicians of the Missouri state irrespective of the Republican-Democratic divide should endeavor to quieten the protesters down and maintain peace. In context of any kind of unrest, that's involving our civilians, it's necessary to get the state/federal security apparatus to control situations. Along with Governer Jay Nixon, our president should combinedly address our people in Missouri to maintaining calm. While the protestors do march on; and, the state security forces on guard, certainly, there's going to be exchanges, brick-battings by both the sides. Instead of any repressive activities upon the civilians, the calming down process should go on in other ways. Our political leaders of the state and federal aspects whose very bases are out of our people's parameter must endeavor to control the current unrest over the shooting of a black teen instead of watching as the silent spectators at a distance.
Racial harmony must carry the civilian passion instead of the racial bias and such outrages.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 18, 2014 12:15 AM
It's the "Black Quiet Riot" anger against whites that Barack Obama spoke about, when on June 06, 2007, he accused President Bush of not doing anything to defuse the "Quiet Riots" among blacks, that happens everyday..... (NOW).... Barack Obama is the US President, and he hasn't done anything in 51/2 years to defuse those same "Quiet Riots" in the black community, (but throw gasoline on the fires), with Sharpton, and Hunter helping him.... (that's my opinion).

by: Vaggo from: Spain
August 17, 2014 2:12 AM
It's surprising how a death of one man can spark so harsh reaction. Even crash of MH 17,in which 298 people died flying over eastern Ukraine and was shot down by pro-Moscow separatists and terrorists left people more cool.

by: NVO from: USA
August 16, 2014 8:02 PM

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