L.A.S MEDIA HOUSE

Sunday, 17 August 2014

VERY BAD: Police smoke on protesters in Ferguson

As the rain dropped and smoke fell, the fists shot up.
Police fired smoke canisters on protesters defying a curfew
issued in order to prevent mayhem in Ferguson, Missouri,
where the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager
sparked a week of protests and sporadic looting.
About 150 protesters gathered a day after Missouri Gov. Jay
Nixon declared a state of emergency and implemented a
midnight to 5 a.m. curfew.
Despite a quiet first few minutes early Sunday morning, a
handful of people -- a noticeably younger group than what has
been the norm in Ferguson -- marched towards police.
Many of them were out to express their disagreement with the
curfew by marching and raising their hands in the air -- an
action that's become symbolic of these protests, echoing what
some witnesses say Michael Brown was doing before he was
killed.
"If we're going to achieve justice, we first must have and
maintain peace."
"I'm committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice
prevail," Nixon said at a community meeting. "If we're going
to achieve justice, we first must have and maintain peace."
But the meeting at a local church at times was tumultuous.
People repeatedly interrupted Nixon, shouting, "You need to
charge the police with murder!" and "We want justice!"
And some residents said law enforcement officers had
instigated the violence with their military-like tactics.
State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, in charge of security
for the town, praised local citizens who tried to stop the looting
of several businesses early Saturday. He said law enforcement
would not be heavy-handed in enforcing the curfew.
"We won't enforce it with trucks, we won't enforce it with tear
gas," he said.
But at least one resident was skeptical about whether the
curfew would work.
"It's an intimidation thing. And you're basically suppressing
people who still have questions that need answers," said
Carissa McGraw, who has joined protests throughout the week.
"You have people who -- at this point -- do not care what
authorities say right now."
Michael Brown killed a week ago
Ferguson, a town of about 22,000 people near St. Louis,
entered the national consciousness on August 9 when a white
police officer, identified as Darren Wilson, shot and killed and
Michael Brown, 18, on a city street during the middle of the
day.
Accounts of what happened vary widely. Police said Brown
struggled with the officer and reached for his weapon. Several
witnesses said Brown raised his hands and was not attacking
the officer.
Since then, Ferguson has become a tinder box, with regular
street protests, an influx of heavily armed law enforcement
officers and intense media coverage.
A new development in the investigation popped up Saturday
when a Brown family lawyer, Anthony Gray, said that Michael
Baden will conduct a second autopsy on the the teenager's
body. Baden is a high-profile pathologist who testified in the
O.J. Simpson, Phil Spector and Drew Peterson trials.
Early Saturday morning, before sunrise, a fragile peace was
shattered when looters again targeted neighborhood
businesses while law enforcement in riot gear largely looked
on without intervening.
Some protesters tried to stop the looting, at times standing in
front of one convenience store and preventing others from
doing more damage. Police, criticized days earlier for being
too aggressive with protesters, now drew the ire of merchants
who told CNN they weren't doing enough.
"You still have a job to do now, and now you're not doing your
job," Tanya Littleton said of police after thieves broke into her
beauty supply shop in the St. Louis suburb and made off with
bags of hair extensions worth hundreds of dollars.
At noon Saturday -- the hour that police say Wilson shot Brown
a week earlier -- protesters outside the police station silently
raised their arms into the air, mimicking Brown's purported
actions right before he died.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson joined loud but peaceful
crowds that marched in the street carrying signs saying "Mike
Brown is our son" and "The whole world is watching
Ferguson." They chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and "Hey
hey, ho ho, killer cops have got to go."
Looting earlier in the day
The looting began at the Ferguson Market and Liquor store,
which has become part of the case. Minutes before Brown was
shot, police say, a man fitting his description allegedly stole
cigars and roughed up a store clerk as surveillance cameras
recorded.
Ferguson police released surveillance video of that robbery on
Friday, but then emphasized that Wilson stopped Brown not
because of the theft, but because Brown and a friend were
"walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."
Release of the video on Friday angered some, who say police
were using it to distract from Brown's killing and make him
look bad.
As protesters took to the streets early Saturday, more than two
dozen people blocked off the convenience store with cars.
Police with riot gear, tactical rifles and armored vehicles were
nearby, commanding them through loudspeakers to free it up.
Instead, bottles flew, mayhem erupted, and looters ransacked
the store, which the owner had boarded up. It was the first of
at least three stores raided.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

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