News / USA

New Protests Form in Ferguson

  • A group of police attempt to disperse a crowd in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Police arrest a man as they break up a crowd of protesters, in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • Protester Hana Kato holds a sign naming the police officer that shot the teenager as she attends an evening rally, Tacoma, Washington, Aug. 19, 2014.
  • Quentin Baker, from Crystal City, Missouri participates in a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.
  • A school bus full of children chant, "Hands up, don't shoot" as the vehicle drives past the scene where St. Louis Metropolitan Police earlier shot and killed a man wielding a knife in the St. Louis area, August 19, 2014.
  • Security forces detain a demonstrator during a protest against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014.
Unrest Continues in Ferguson, Missouri
VOA News

New protests formed late Wednesday in Ferguson, Missouri, site of 11 days of unrest after a local police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager.

Demonstrators took to the streets to voice anger at the August 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The protests appeared to be relatively peaceful.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that two protesters showed up carrying signs in support of the police officer, Darren Wilson. Television footage showed many people in the crowd shouting at those two people. 

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in Missouri, meeting with community leaders and federal investigators as a local grand jury was to begin compilling evidence in the case of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.

Holder made his first stop at the Florissant campus of St. Louis Community College, near the suburb of Ferguson where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot August 9.

He spoke with students at the college, then met separately with about 50 local leaders, telling them he had assigned the federal government's "most experienced agents and prosecutors" to the case, which has touched off days of nighttime protests during which security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the streets.

The protests were more subdued Tuesday night. Police said they still made 47 arrests, but mainly of people who defied orders to disperse.

Later, while walking through Drake's Place Restaurant in Ferguson, Holder told diners concerned about the recent street clashes, "we can make [the situation] better."

Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, who is in charge of the police response to protests, met Holder at the restaurant.

Asked whether he had confidence in the local investigation of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, Johnson said that, "General Holder, by being here, is a guarantee on that."

Holder, who has been accompanied by several Justice Department officials, including members of its Civil Rights division, also met with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation into the shooting death.

The nation's top law enforcement official later met privately with Brown's parents at the St. Louis office of the U.S. attorney for the region, but no details of that session was immediately available.

Meanwhile, a grand jury was expected to begin hearing evidence to determine whether Officer Wilson should be charged. The group is expected to meet weekly until a decision is made, and could hear testimony from Wilson himself at some point.

Edward Magee, a spokesman for Robert P. McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, said it could take weeks for the grand jury to consider all the evidence.

Dozens of protesters demonstrated peacefully on Wednesday in front of the Clayton, Missouri, courthouse where prosecutors were to begin presenting evidence to the grand jury.

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

The teen's death has triggered allegations of systemic racial discrimination in Ferguson, a predominantly black St. Louis suburb of 21,000 residents with a majority white police force.

Rallies, protests

Police have arrested more than 100 protesters in the last 11 days, primarily for refusing to leave the streets.

Most of the activity has been punctuated by looting, vandalism and clashes between demonstrators and police, who said many of those arrested are not from Ferguson but from states as far as New York and California.

Prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch said his office could continue presenting evidence to the grand jury through mid-October, as he confronts conflicting pressures for speed and thoroughness.

“On one side, people are saying you're rushing to justice, and on the other side, they're saying you're dragging this thing out,” he said at a news conference. “We're going to present this as expeditiously as possible, but we are not going to present it in a half-hearted manner.”

African-American minister Stanton Holliday, 62, who said he was a longtime civil rights activist, said he was concerned that prosecutors were taking too long.

“The criminal justice system in America ... is as racist as it was 50 years ago,” Holliday said.

Protesters in front of the courthouse gathered in a circle for a prayer, chanted, and held signs urging prosecutor McCulloch to step aside.

Nearly two dozen officers guarded the building's main entrance, which also was blocked off with yellow police tape.

McCulloch's deep family connections to police have been cited by some black leaders who question his ability to be impartial in the case. McCulloch's father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect, The Associated Press reported.

The prosecutor, who is white, has insisted his background will have no bearing on the handling of the Brown case.

On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said he would not seek McCulloch's removal from the case, citing the "well-established process" by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor.

In Ferguson, some said they hoped Holder's visit would lead to a speedy arrest and prosecution of the police officer involved in the shooting, while others cautioned against hasty justice.

At the time of his death, Brown was suspected of shoplifting and roughing up a storekeeper.  Authorities, however, say Wilson did not know that Brown was a robbery suspect.

An independent autopsy requested by Brown's family showed he was shot six times, including twice in the head. A family attorney said the teen was trying to surrender to police when he was shot.

In a special message to the community published online by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Holder said about 40 FBI agents have been assigned to the case, along with prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis.

Hundreds of people have already been interviewed, Holder said, and federal medical examiners have performed an independent autopsy, the third conducted in the killing.

“Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent,” Holder said.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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Comments
     
by: Michael from: S-Pb
August 21, 2014 1:06 AM
I wonder how the State Department of United States will "teach" other countries of democracy, and how to deal with the government of national indignation. Or, as always in the United States "other" democracy is not for everyone?

by: pease-justice please from: too all
August 20, 2014 8:18 PM
we all need to speak up .....outspoken director said that the African-American community “can’t take it anymore” and that he hopes the situation “will really blow up” in order to get the message out that the country has finally hit a “tipping point.”
“When people get to a point, to the tipping point they can’t take it anymore and I’m not saying that people should burn down stuff, riot and loot and I don’t want to the use the word riot. I’m going to use the word uprising,” said Lee. “This is not the first time we’ve seen this, and I just hope that things will really blow up, the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”
Lee rejected the notion that the U.S. is now a post-racial society, pointing to a string of historical violence against black Americans.
“Many people thought that the moment that President Obama put his hand on Abraham Lincoln’s bible and took the oath, racism would disappear, gone, for the post-racial era,” continued Lee. “That is not the case. If you look what happened in Ferguson, it happened in L.A. with the Rodney King verdict and Liberty City in Miami and happened in Detroit ‘67, happened in the assassination of Dr. King and happened in the Harlem riots.”
Lee criticized the use of military-grade weapons and uniforms being used by American police to control protests sparked by the shooting of Brown.

by: Lord Dirtybottom from: Missouri, twin city
August 20, 2014 6:54 PM
The U.S. Army is set to continue training exercises involving low flying “black helicopters” over Minneapolis and St. Paul tonight despite residents and local officials expressing outrage at the danger posed by the unannounced drills.



His sentiments were echoed by city council member Dave Thune, who slammed the drills as “incredibly unsafe.”

“When you’ve got Blackhawk helicopters flying between buildings full of people in the middle of the night, it’s just not safe … It’s absolutely wrong for us as a civilian police department to engage in military exercises. It shouldn’t happen here,” said Thune.

Pioneer Press reporter Joe Soucheray, who described how the low flying choppers literally shook his house, criticized authorities for failing to provide advance warning or information about the training program.

“We are supposed to be good and quiet little citizens who don’t ask too many questions,” wrote Soucheray. “Go back into your basements, folks. We’re just doing a little buzzing over your roof, maybe dropping a SEAL down a rope or whatever we feel like doing. You all just move along.”

Soucheray took issue with residents being treated like “guinea pigs,” writing, “These exercises have to be incredibly dangerous. Large, fast, essentially blacked-out helicopters are flying over a packed urban center, between downtown St. Paul buildings where people live.”

Minneapolis resident Daniel Feidt told CBS Minnesota that the training was “a waste of taxpayer money,” remarking, “It’s inappropriate for Special Forces to be operating in American cities.”

Tonya Tennessen, spokeswoman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, justified the exercises by citing 9/11, commenting, “In a post-9/11 world, this is how homeland security happens. … These exercises are taking place in cities all over the country.”

Maj. Allen Hill denied eyewitness reports that military personnel were seen rappelling onto the top of the Federal Reserve building in downtown Minneapolis.

Back in May we reported on similar drills in Kentucky and Cincinnati which were described by eyewitnesses as resembling something out of a war zone.

In 2012, Miami residents were shocked to be awoken by a military exercise in the middle of the night which involved helicopters, fighter jets, along with simulated gunfire and grenades. Black Hawk helicopters also flew low over Los Angeles during a military drill the same year.

Back in March, we reported on Department of Defense exercises in Broward County during which low flying military helicopters landed on city buildings in Fort Lauderdale. According to a local reporter, the drills were centered around, “scaring the crap out of people”.

As we have previously explained, many see the drills as a means of acclimatizing people to accept the prospect of martial law. Some in Minneapolis and St. Paul have suggested that police departments agreed to host the drills in return for military equipment from the Pentagon.

As we have seen in Ferguson, Missouri over the last 10 days, such gear is being used to target protesters, journalists and silence the First Amendment as America increasingly begins to resemble a banana republic.

by: tim from: texas
August 20, 2014 5:11 PM
If you hit or charge at at cop you are asking to get shot.never try to fight them unless ur bullet prof

by: Martha Mosley from: Abilene, TX
August 20, 2014 5:10 PM
The picture labeled "Police arrest a man as they break up a crowd of protesters, in Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014." could not have been taken on Aug 20. At the time of this post, it is 4:07PM and the sun is still up on Aug 20. (I'm in the same time zone as St. Louis/Ferguson) The picture was taken at night with lights clearly showing in the photo. If the press does not label its photos with the proper dates and imply this is tonight, before tonight actually happens, how much of the reporting is accurate?

by: Unlicensed Dremel from: Okla., USA
August 20, 2014 5:04 PM
St. Michael's co-felon / robber has now admitted that St. Michael attacked the cop (allegedly): http://bearingarms.com/collapse-radio-station-claims-primary-witness-will-admit-michael-brown-charged-officer-darren-wilson/

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