Ferguson: protests spread as officer defends shooting

Police make an arrest during a protest in Ferguson

Police officer Darren Wilson insists he has 'clean conscience' after killing black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

LAST UPDATED AT 08:52 ON Wed 26 Nov 2014

Rallies were held across America last night in protest against Monday's decision to clear a white police officer of killing unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrations in New York, Seattle, Chicago and Cleveland were mostly peaceful, although riots broke out in Oakland, California.

Hundreds of people blocked traffic in Cleveland, while protesters in New York briefly shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.

Ferguson suffered a second night of rioting, with 2,200 National Guard troops deployed to stop further unrest.

Protesters set alight a police vehicle, while officers used smoke bombs and tear gas to clear the streets. At one point the police, with dogs and a helicopter, declared that anyone standing in the street would be subject to arrest.

Nevertheless, police said it was a better night than Monday, which was described by The Guardian as "America's worst night of race-related riots in a generation".

Meanwhile, Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot dead 18-year-old Brown in the St Louis suburb on 9 August, has said he has a "clean conscience".

Speaking out for the first time to ABC News, Wilson said there was nothing he could have done differently.

"The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," he said. Wilson denied witness statements claiming that Brown had his hands up when he shot him and insisted race had played no part in the shooting.

He described Brown as a "powerful man" and said he had felt like a "five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan".

On Monday night at least 60 people were arrested, 14 people were injured and a dead body was found yesterday morning in a car close to where Brown died. Millions of dollars of damage was caused.

This morning, Jon Belmar, St Louis police chief, said the police made 44 arrests last night, and also seized a molotov cocktail and two guns. "Generally it was a much better night," he said.

Ferguson, Missouri: 'worst night of riots' after officer cleared

26 November

Violent clashes have broken out in Ferguson, Missouri after a US grand jury decided not to charge the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Ferguson Police Department, chanting and throwing signs and other objects at police officers lined up in riot gear.

Cars and buildings were later set alight, windows of buildings were smashed and several businesses reported looting.

Police used tear gas and sound cannons to disperse crowds in the region, as protesters threw bottles and rocks at officers. Gunshots could also be heard along the streets of Ferguson, reports the New York Times. Flights into St Louis Lambert International Airport were even suspended as a safety precaution.

The BBC describes it as the "worst night of rioting yet in Ferguson", while in other US cities, protesters gathered in mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot dead 18-year-old Brown in the St Louis suburb on 9 August, sparking nights of rioting with protesters outraged by what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men.

Brown's family claims the 18-year-old was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say the officer opened fire in self-defence, fearing for his life. Witnesses disagreed on whether or not Brown's hands were up when he was shot 12 times, with the final shot hitting him in the top of his head.

The decision of the grand jury, comprising nine white and three black members, was announced last night at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world.

St Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch explained that Wilson could have faced charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder – but no probable cause could be found to file any charge against him.

Brown's family said they were "profoundly disappointed" but called for calm. "While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change," they said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama echoed their words in an unusual late-night appearance, urging Americans to accept the decision was "the grand jury's to make''.

Ferguson, Missouri: is city on the brink of war?

19 November

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri are predicting "widespread civil disobedience" when the grand jury verdict on the police killing of an unarmed black teenager is announced.

Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in August and the jury is expected to decide whether or not a murder charge can be brought against him.

Brown's death sparked widespread protests in Ferguson as racial tensions soared and demonstrators accused the town's predominantly white police force of indiscriminately targeting black people.

There are fears that such scenes are likely to be repeated once the verdict is released in the coming days and businesses across Ferguson have begun boarding up their shop fronts in preparation. The expectation among most protesters is that Wilson will not be charged, The Guardian reports.

However, demonstrators, currently picketing the St Louis grand jury, say protests will remain non-violent as long as the police response is proportionate.

Alarmingly, gun sales in the area have soared, particularly among first time buyers who say they want to be able to protect themselves from protesters. "Everyone else has one," one customer told Fox news. "I figured I'd better [get one] too."

Police spokesman Brian Schellman said "it would be naive" to say that the increase was not in anticipation of the grand jury verdict.

Separately, members of the Klu Klux Klan have been handing out fliers in Ferguson promising to use "lethal force" against protesters, the Washington Post reports.

In anticipation of violence, Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday and National Guard troops have been put on alert, ready to be deployed to the city. 

"This is America. People have the right to express views and grievances, but they do not have the right to put fellow citizens and property at risk,” Nixon said last week. "Violence will not be tolerated.”

The move has been condemned by protesters and Brown's family who accuse the authorities of and scaremongering and "preparing for war".

 

St Louis police shooting video stokes outrage

21 August 

St Louis police have released video footage of the moment 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was shot dead by officers a few miles away from ongoing protests about the death of another black man, Michael Brown.

The video shows Powell, who has severe learning difficulties, holding a kitchen knife and shouting at police: "Shoot me! Shoot me!"

Officers open fire after Powell ignores their command to stop, shooting him a total of 9 times. They continued to shoot even after he collapsed on the ground.

"Powell looks sick more than he looks dangerous", yet police still open fire, shooting to kill, writes Vox's Ezra Klein. "It does not seem like it should be so easy to take a life."

The video also appears to contradict a previous police statement on the shooting which said that Powell was just three feet away and running at police. The footage shows that Powell is much further away and walking towards them.

St Louis police department said they released the video in the spirit of transparency and insisted that officers had followed protocol, but social media users quickly attacked their approach.

The video has further increased racial tensions in an area that has been plagued by violent clashes following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, who was unarmed, 12 days ago.

But not everyone agreed that the police were at fault in the Powell shooting. Antonio French, a councillor who has been involved in the Ferguson protests, said the officers' actions may have been justified and told the public not to link the shooting to Brown's death, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"There's a difference between an armed man yelling, 'Kill me, Kill me,' and an unarmed teenager reportedly with his hands up in the air," he said.

Klein also says: "It is easy to forget that police get scared. It is easy not to ask yourself what you might have done if you had a gun and a man came at you with a knife."  · 

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