Violence flares over shooting of black teen

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.

Violence flares over shooting of black teen

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”.

This was the most tense of the confrontations met with 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 armoured trucks.

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.

President Barack Obama last night appealed for “peace and calm”.

“I know emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened,” Mr Obama said in his first in-person remarks about the tense stand-off.

“But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family, we are united in common values and that includes the belief in equality under the law, respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.”

Mr Obama, speaking from the Massachusetts island where he is on a two-week holiday, said there was no excuse for excessive force by police in the aftermath of Saturday’s shooting.

He said he had asked the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the incident.

The president said he had also spoken with Missouri governor Jay Nixon, who has faced criticism for not doing more to control the violence. Mr Obama defended the Democratic governor, calling him “a good man, a fine governor”.

Police have defended their use of tear gas and smoke bombs, saying they took those actions to disperse a large crowd after some people threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at officers.

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 spectre 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 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 destroyed. Police also asked that people assemble in “an organised 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.

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

Police said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street.

Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown when the shooting happened, says Brown was on the street with his hands raised when the officer fired at him repeatedly.

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox