News / USA

National Guard Begins Ferguson Withdrawal

Calls for Justice Grow as Ferguson Violence Fadesi
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August 22, 2014 9:34 AM
Calls for justice are growing louder in the embattled St. Louis suburb of Ferguson as violent protests give way to peaceful demonstrations. The unrest began after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager August 9 after a confrontation on a neighborhood street. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has the latest from Ferguson.
Watch related video report by Mary Alice Salinas
VOA News

The National Guard began pulling out Friday of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, after tensions appeared to ease following the shooting death of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer.

After nearly two weeks of unrest, for the second straight night no major clashes broke out between police and protesters late Thursday, though police did report at least seven arrests.

Missouri State Patrol Captain Ron Johnson called it "another good night" and said the community was "heading toward a sense of peace."

Situation improves

Missouri National Guard soldiers stand by at a police command post in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 19, 2014.Missouri National Guard soldiers stand by at a police command post in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 19, 2014.
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Missouri National Guard soldiers stand by at a police command post in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 19, 2014.
Missouri National Guard soldiers stand by at a police command post in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 19, 2014.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the removal of the National Guard Thursday, saying the situation had "greatly improved with fewer incidents of outside instigators interfering with peaceful protesters, and fewer acts of violence."

The demonstrations have centered around the street where Michael Brown, 18, was killed on August 9.  Police say Brown and officer Darren Wilson were involved in a struggle, but most witnesses say the shooting was unprovoked.

Many have complained that the police response to the protests has been heavy-handed.

Missouri Congressmen Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver met Thursday with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to express their concerns about what they describe as the "militarization of local law enforcement agencies."

In a statement, the two representatives said they asked Hagel to review a program that sees surplus Defense Department weapons and other equipment distributed to local police. They say they hope the Ferguson incident can spur a national discussion about shifting local law enforcement "away from military-style responses" targeting peaceful protesters.

More than 150 people have been arrested in Ferguson since the protests began -- most of them for failing to disperse at the request of police.

Discrimination allegations

Brown's shooting has raised allegations of institutionalized discrimination and excessive use of force by police.

A grand jury began hearing evidence in the case on Wednesday and will determine whether to charge officer Wilson in the teen's death.

Wilson is on paid leave, with Brown's family and supporters calling for his arrest.

  • A man sells T-shirts along the roadside in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • National Guard troops stand guard inside a shopping center parking lot in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • People gather outside the White House as part of a "National Day of Rage" protest against the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Protesters march near the spot where Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 21, 2014.
  • Protesters march in the street as lightning flashes in the distance in Ferguson, Missouri., Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Demonstrators shout "Hands up, don't shoot," in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Police officers patrol a street while demonstrators take part in a march in support of the protests against the killing of Michael Brown, New York City, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • A woman holds a sign during a protest against the shooting of Michael Brown. Oakland, California, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Several hundred demonstrators march through Oakland, California during a protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant in Florissant, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder shakes hands with Bradley J. Rayford, 22, following his meeting with students at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.

Brown's family and the protesters have also been calling for the removal of prosecutor Bob McCulloch, expressing concerns he will be biased. McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in the line of duty by a black man.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

In Washington Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder assured protesters the civil rights probe was moving forward.

Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant in Florrissant, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant in Florrissant, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.
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Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant in Florrissant, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.
Attorney General Eric Holder greets Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant in Florrissant, Missouri Aug. 20, 2014.

Holder said his brief trip to Missouri the day before affected him like few events have in his time as head of the Justice Department.

"While I went to Ferguson to provide reassurance, in fact, they gave me hope," Holder said.  "My commitment to them is that long after this tragic story no longer receives this level of attention, the Justice Department will continue to stand with Ferguson."
 

Holder said it is clear the shooting "brought to the surface underlying tensions" in the town.

"There is a history to these tensions and that history simmers in more communities than just Ferguson," he said.

Brown's funeral is set for Monday.

WATCH: Related video report by Jim Malone

Holder Vows Fair, Thorough Probe in Ferguson Shooting Casei
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Jim Malone
August 21, 2014 6:57 PM
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is promising a fair and thorough federal investigation into the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Holder spoke about his visit to Ferguson in unusually personal terms to reporters upon his return to Washington, and VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gail from: MA
August 22, 2014 4:48 PM
What concerns me is that this unarmed young man was shot at least six times in an effort to subdue him.

Doesn't the police have other methods such as tasers? Granted he was a large person, but six shots certainly does seem excessive.


by: Brian Galloway from: Tacoma, WA
August 22, 2014 4:12 PM
The evidence is showing that the young man who got shot wasn't an innocent victim. He robbed a store, assaulted the clerk, then 10 minutes later assaulted a police officer. There are cases of police brutality and injustice, as we all know, but this doesn't seem to be one of them. His mother's claim that he had never been in a fight in his life rings hollow.

In Response

by: Anonymous
August 22, 2014 9:35 PM
That is entirely false. The storeowner said he had not stolen anything and that no one from the store called police. He was stopped for walking in the street. There is no evidence he assaulted the officer. He was shot from more than 30 feet away and hit six times, including in his face.


by: jack from: benny
August 22, 2014 2:39 PM
When all is settled the police will be afraid to do their job. Business's will close. Law abiding tax payers will flight of out the area. That’s when the thugs of Ferguson will ramp up the robbing, rape and murdering of each other. It will almost be humorous to watch as the people of Ferguson, after being raped and robbed beg for renewed police protection. You protesters have yet to realize that you just destroyed your own town

In Response

by: Gail from: MA
August 22, 2014 4:50 PM
For me if a policeman is doing his job by shooting an unarmed person six times, I think we need to review what one's job is and what other non-lethal methods can be used to subdue someone.


by: Rabdy from: canada
August 22, 2014 11:43 AM
It is saddening knowing the unrest around the world like Ebola in Africa and we are doing this garbage and now this 24 year African-American guy with a knife shot dead by police near Fegusen St. Louis


by: Curly4 from: USA
August 22, 2014 9:12 AM
Peaceful protest! Now why could they not have done that from the first day? They could have protested peaceful from the first yet demanding that the law and the law enforcement agencies do the job that each should do. All the violence just shows how lawless that the African-american community is. It is this lawless attitude that has caused sooo many to view this community the way it is now. A view that is one than nobody that is not of colour cannot disagree with any African-american without being a racist.

It is not helpful that there several in the Civil Rights (Unrest seems to be a better moniker) show up at any event and immediately starts preaching discrimination and white hate. As they preach they also have their hand out collecting buckets full of money. Nor they willing to allow the system (even when in the hands of African-Americans) to do its work. It seams that these leaders(?) attack first and is wrong they just fade away. Nothing they have done has been to reduce the tension but only to raise it to a higher level. Most whites (there some that don't) have more or less recognized the right of the African-american. But the African-american don't reciprocate.

In Response

by: pz
August 22, 2014 9:39 PM
Ridiculous and racist comment. The U.S. Constitution protects the right to assemble nad protest. Police treated the peaceful, nonviolent protests like an occupying army and fired rubber bullets and tear gas, all in violation of the Constitution. The police, not the protesters, were violent. Your lumping in all the demonstrators with a few who looted is a sign of your bad faith and yes, your racism. You should try walking down the street when black yourself sometime.

In Response

by: BK from: TUCSON
August 22, 2014 11:00 AM
Curly4, with all due respect you just lumped every black person into an unruly group of animals. I am a 40 year old Black man, father of 2, college educated and have been married for 18 years. My wife is not black, but that matters very little in regards to your comments. You stated " All the violence just shows how lawless that the African-american community is" I am absolutely offended by this. I have worked very hard to better myself and be the man that my wife deserves. I have multiple college degrees and have never been a burden on the American tax payer. You are a racist, bottom line. You put all the hard working, well educated, positive blacks in a bag and beat the hell out of it. You are part of the problem sir and this issue will change only when people like "YOU" change, I pray that you meet a black person like myself that will change how you feel about blacks as a whole, we are all not animals!!!


by: Dorothy from: Salem NJ
August 22, 2014 8:55 AM
This was a life no matter how we look at this. Would he have used the same force had it been a white child. These are the question that black America is asking. As the world look at the two face's of America they can see the injustice of our law's. A young white boy wrote an article in the Atlantic Press. And what he said was I have white friends and I have black friends. But what I noticed was when I hung out with my black friends did the samething they did some good some bad. And no we didnt rob, steel, or kill. And yes we made our money on the street's.

But when we got busted the law that we have was diffrent for me. Were I get rehab my black friends would get time up to 6mth /yr. So to the ppl of Ferguson their will never be peace an justice for the loss of your blackmen.. Rise an stand up Blackmen Hispanicmen stand up stop given them a reason to kill you. Stop killing yourselves for you our your brother's keeper. With all the witnesses who gave their accountability to what happen. the news media is saying their testimony credible. and yet anonymous caller calls into a radio station who was not there by the way. the news media take her version of what happened. so keep fighting Ferguson our life count #2


by: Andrew from: florida
August 22, 2014 8:51 AM
Its not a peaceful protest when they had to rush the pro wilson supporter off to safety before the mob attacked her.....and he wasn't an innocent young boy when your strong arm robbing your local store!!


by: sterling from: usa
August 22, 2014 8:24 AM
At any time now Holder will be visiting Wilson to insure him that he desires "justice" because Eric Holder represents all of us,not just the black race and wants to be fair to the white officer as well as the white race. Right?


by: troy t corken from: dav.ia
August 22, 2014 8:11 AM
Hmmm... more enbarrassment for human beings who act before all facts are exposed....

In Response

by: Tenshino from: USA
August 22, 2014 2:53 PM
@dee That's his point. We don't know all the facts yet. No where did he say that what happened to Brown was justified, only that a lot of a people are behaving horrifically before they know that it wasn't.

In Response

by: jaguar6cy from: washington dc
August 22, 2014 10:22 AM
Troy, somewhere you learned to read and think before responding. Some prefer to react without ever thinking or reading. Probably they never learned how. It may be genetic, but they use that approach to justify burning and looting. The reason stability is slowly returning is that too many are just now starting to read and think a little. It's just too late.

In Response

by: dee from: ut basement
August 22, 2014 8:46 AM
because you know all the facts surrounding this case right? you were there to see the incident yourself and know as a matter of fact and not speculation that everything that happened to brown was justified then. or you are just a hypocrite more likely.

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