News / USA

Obama says Missouri Shooting Death Tragic, Reflection Needed

Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son, (top left) and a young child during a news conference, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son, (top left) and a young child during a news conference, Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
Reuters

President Barack Obama called the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager a tragedy on Tuesday and urged a thoughtful response after two nights of violent protests, looting and arrests in a St. Louis suburb.

But early on Wednesday, a police officer shot and critically wounded a man who drew a handgun near the site of the protests, he St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported, citing a police spokesman.

St. Louis County Police Department officers responded about an hour after midnight to reports of four or five men with shotguns and wearing ski masks. They encountered “multiple subjects running,” police spokesman Brian Schellman said.

One of them pulled a gun on an officer, who fired at him, police said. The man was taken to an area hospital.

Shortly after midnight, police fired tear gas into protesters who had confronted a line of officers after a far larger crowd dispersed, Schellman said. A photograph in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed a protester wearing a shirt with an American flag printed on it throwing a tear gas container back at the police.

Watch related video of VOA's Chris Simkins

Racial Tensions High Over Police Shooting of African American Youthi
X
Chris Simkins
August 13, 2014 7:47 PM
Racial tensions remain high in a suburb outside Saint Louis, Missouri days after an unarmed black teenager was shot to death, allegedly by a white police officer. Civil rights leaders and President Barack Obama are calling for calm. As VOA’s Chris Simkins reports, federal authorities are investigating other recent altercations between African Americans and police.

President Obama promised a full investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the teenager's death, which has provoked outrage in the largely African-American town of Ferguson.

“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but ... I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said in a statement.

Friends and family of Michael Brown, 18, held a peaceful church vigil on Tuesday night, after his father pleaded for an end to the violence. Standing with supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Brown Sr. said he wanted justice for his son but wanted it “the right way.”

“I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way,” said Brown Sr., who wore a T-shirt showing his son's baby picture. “No violence.”

Several hundred protesters appeared to heed the calls for non-violence late on Tuesday evening, chanting “hands up, don't shoot” and “no justice, no peace” during a tense but ultimately peaceful stand-off with police clad in riot gear and flanked by armored vehicles near the site of Brown's death.

The protesters, some of whom waved signs as the group was led in chants by megaphone, had dwindled to a handful before midnight.

Also on Wednesday, a woman was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting blocks from the area where Brown was killed. Her condition and whether the shooting were related to the protests was unknown, Schellman said.

In a separate incident simmering in California, a vigil was planned after Monday's shooting death of an unarmed 24-year-old black man in Los Angeles, USA TODAY cited a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman as saying.

Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a gathering to calm tension following the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, at Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 12, 2014.Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a gathering to calm tension following the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, at Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 12, 2014.
x
Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a gathering to calm tension following the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, at Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 12, 2014.
Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during a gathering to calm tension following the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, at Greater St. Mark Family Church in St. Louis, Missouri, August 12, 2014.

Sharpton, a New York-based civil rights leader, called for peaceful protest in the wake of looting and more than 50 arrests since the shooting. Sharpton's National Action Network will pay for Brown's funeral.

“To become violent in Michael Brown's name is to betray the gentle giant that he was,” Sharpton said of the 6-foot, 4-inch (198-cm) Brown, who had planned to start college this week.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told a packed church in North St. Louis County on Tuesday evening the community was “reeling from what feels like an old wound that has been torn open afresh.”

The activists also were demanding authorities make public the name of the officer involved. The police had said they would release the officer's name on Tuesday, but changed the plan, citing fears of retaliation, according to media reports.

Police said Brown was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said.

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating.

Conflicting accounts

A witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed.

“There were many, many witnesses who have talked to family members and they paint a very different picture than police witnesses,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Brown family. Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012.

The “hands up” gesture has been frequently seen at protests over the shooting. More than 100 protesters in front of the St. Louis County Courthouse in nearby Clayton on Tuesday morning chanted “hands up, don't shoot.”

Protesters fill Florissant Road in downtown Ferguson, Mo. Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, marching along the closed street.Protesters fill Florissant Road in downtown Ferguson, Mo. Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, marching along the closed street.
x
Protesters fill Florissant Road in downtown Ferguson, Mo. Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, marching along the closed street.
Protesters fill Florissant Road in downtown Ferguson, Mo. Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, marching along the closed street.

Demonstrations on Sunday night turned violent, with looting and property damage. Violence broke out again on Monday night as police officers in riot gear, armed with rifles and accompanied by dogs tried to secure the area.

Residents in the low-income, mostly black neighborhood where Brown was killed say they are often harassed by police. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said the neighborhood had a lot of crime but there were no race problems.

Ferguson has seen a stark demographic shift in recent decades, going from all white to mostly black. About two-thirds of the town's 21,000-strong population are black. On a police force of 53, three officers are black.

The race of officers should not matter as long as their work is fair and professional, said Dave Klinger, a former police officer and criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“If the officer behaved inappropriately, we've got to sanction the officer and figure out what it is that led him to do what he did,” Klinger said. “Was he poorly trained? Was there a pattern in this agency?”

Klinger said the investigation must be as “transparent as possible.”  

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid