September 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
54°F
test

Protests turn violent in St. Louis suburb

Police walk through a cloud of smoke as they clash with protesters Wednesday in Ferguson, Mo.  Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent Wednesday night, with some people lobbing molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Police walk through a cloud of smoke as they clash with protesters Wednesday in Ferguson, Mo. Protests in the St. Louis suburb rocked by racial unrest since a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager to death turned violent Wednesday night, with some people lobbing molotov cocktails at police who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Police used tear gas and smoke bombs to repel crowds who threw Molotov cocktails during another violent night on the streets of a St. Louis suburb in the wake of the shooting of the unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown.

Hours earlier, the police chief had said race relations were the top priority in the town, where a white police officer fatally shot the black teen. Authorities have vowed to reach across the racial, economic and generational divide in a community in search of answers.

In the streets of Ferguson, though, the polite dialogue heard at community forums and news conferences is nowhere to be found.

Instead, officers from multiple departments in riot gear and in military equipment have clashed nightly with protesters, who chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Wednesday saw more tense confrontations and further volleys of tear gas from police — this time paired with smoke bombs in response to flaming projectiles and other objects lobbed from the crowd. Protesters faced heavily armed police who at times trained weapons on them from armored trucks.

Two reporters said they were detained by police for not clearing out quickly enough from a McDonald’s where they were working, near the protests but away from the more volatile areas. The two, who work for The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, were released without any charges. Both say they were assaulted but not seriously hurt.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that about 10 people had been arrested, including St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, who has been chronicling the protests on social media. Police had said earlier they would not have arrest information until early Thursday.

A protester takes shelter from smoke billowing around him. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

A protester takes shelter from smoke billowing around him. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

Residents in Ferguson have complained about what they called a heavy-handed police presence that began with the use of dogs for crowd control soon after Brown’s shooting — a tactic that for some invoked the specter of civil rights protests a half-century ago. The county police force took over leading both the investigation of Brown’s shooting and the subsequent attempts to keep the peace at the smaller city’s request.

County Police Chief Jon Belmar, though, said his officers have responded with “an incredible amount of restraint,” as they’ve been the targets of rocks, bottles and gunshots, with two dozen patrol vehicles being destroyed.

“It’s pretty amazing how impressed I am and inspired by these officers,” he said. “This is a very difficult circumstance.”

Police had also asked earlier that people assemble in “an organized and respectful” manner and disperse before evening.

The city and county are also under criticism for refusing to release the name of the officer involved in Brown’s shooting, citing threats against that officer and others.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson called improving race relations “the top priority right now” but also said he won’t be pressured into publicly identifying the officer — despite, he said, mounting demands from clergy, computer hackers and protesters.

“We have the right to know, and the family has the right to know who murdered their son,” said Sahari Gutierrez, a 27-year-old Ferguson legal assistant.

Jackson said he also welcomes Justice Department training on racial relations in the suburb, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black while all but three of the police force’s 53 officers are white.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon cited the “worsening situation” in Ferguson in saying he would be in the area Thursday. He asked community members to be patient and calm while the investigation proceeds and urged law enforcement agencies to “keep the peace and respect the rights of residents and the press.”

Jackson said the investigation remains weeks away from completion.

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car.

The struggle then spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. In their initial news conference about the shooting, police didn’t specify whether Brown was the person who scuffled with the officer in the car and have refused to clarify their account.

Jackson said Wednesday that the officer involved sustained swelling facial injuries.

Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown when the shooting happened, has told a much different story. He has told media outlets that the officer ordered them out of the street, then tried to open his door so close to the men that it “ricocheted” back, apparently upsetting the officer.

Johnson says the officer grabbed his friend’s neck, then tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times. Johnson and another witness both say Brown was on the street with his hands raised when the officer fired at him repeatedly.

Among the protesters critical of the police response has been state Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, a Democrat from nearby University City

“I just want to know if I’m going to be gassed again, like I was on Monday night?” she asked Jackson at a press conference. “And I was peaceful. And I’m your state senator.”

“I hope not,” he replied.


  • Scout

    And still no one call tell me why they feel the need to riot and burn their neighborhood? Protest yes but riot/property damage no. WHY???

    • SniperFire

      The C-T won’t permit a real discussion on this. They will delete and ‘mark as spam’ posts which don’t fit their false narrative… er, I mean political correctness. Fortunately, there are many other places to speak truthfully thanks to ‘disqus’.

      • Scout

        Sure but they let the ‘ads’ of stay home and rake in millions to show up on the blog site…that is spam.

        • Terence Sommer

          So true.

      • boonesimpson

        Posts that violate our terms of use, such as vulgarity and personal attacks are removed.

        Additionally if a comment receives too many flags, it goes into a moderation queue and has to manually be reapproved.

        We do not moderate based on the opinions expressed so long as they are presented in a civil manner.

        • SniperFire

          I stand by my statement.

    • Joe Smith

      To get free stuff

    • B4CE

      Your right, it’s just to bad a bunch of white guys haven’t showed up with AR’s & AK’s aimed at law enforcement officials to peacefully protest the shooting of an unarmed black child. The police would stand down & this would be over.

      • Seeker

        The bunch of White guys didn’t loot and burn down innocent people buildings.

      • SniperFire

        ‘ unarmed black child’

        You mean a 300 lb. adult gangsta, don’t you?

        LOL. Never let truth get in the way.

        • B4CE

          Amended as per request

      • Sis Delish

        18 year-old? Child? LOL!

      • Bob

        No but a bunch of CCW people have blocked and prevent looting and damage to businesses in the area. They are the true heroes of all this nonsense.

        • B4CE

          You are now celebrating Vigilantes ? Heroes? Please stay consistent.

          • Scout

            No he’s not but he does have the right description for the whole thing- nonsense.

          • Bob

            I am celebrating heroes. The vigilantes are the ones protesting. The vigilantes are tearing up their own neighborhood in the name of justice and peace. That is just foolishness and moronic beyond words.

          • Terence Sommer

            Just people willing to protect thier property.

  • alreadyfedup1

    Because Rodney King, Travon Martin are old and the RACE Mongers (Sharpton etc) need something to keep the fires of hate going.

  • Sis Delish

    These riots MUST occur every now and then to provide the minimum required exercise for the Looters who then take their haul and play/watch/listen to stuff on couches and in-between naps, until their equipment is either stolen from them, or becomes inoperable.

  • Seeker

    Cops have been out of control for a very long time , look at how they are turning more and more military like. What do you expect when they are only policed themselves , by other police. Cops are the biggest bullies ever . I am surprised that the CT is even running this story , they are usually always in bed with “The Man” whether it be the mayor , the Police or Obama.
    Cops – Americas Largest Street Gang , Funded by your tax dollars.

    • B4CE

      They are only fascist pigs when legally detaining cows. When arresting reporters and black protesters, they are the ” finest men in blue”