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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora