The FBI is now involved in the shooting death of a black 18-year-old teenager from Ferguson, near St. Louis. The gunning down of Michael Brown after he was involved in some sort of altercation with police Saturday touched off a night of rioting, looting and violent protests, and a wave of racially charged remonstrations are boiling over on social media sites.
Per the USA Today on Aug. 12: “The FBI opened an investigation Monday into the death of Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by an officer in Ferguson, a suburb of 21,000 that's nearly 70 percent black… Investigators have refused to publicly disclose the race of the officer, who is now on administrative leave. But Phillip Walker [a witness to the incident] said he was on the porch of an apartment complex overlooking the scene when he heard a shot and saw a white officer with Brown on the street.”
Yesterday, we brought you this story:
Brown was unarmed, and the story, as one might expect, took on an instantaneous racial overtone. African Americans within the St. Louis suburb where Brown died took to the streets, and a candlelight vigil held Sunday night turned into an out-of-control evening of aggressive looting, burning, smashing storefronts and windows of parked cars; goods were carried out of broken stores by the armful.
Multiple YouTube videos captured mostly black males, many of whom had handkerchiefs or other articles of clothing covering their faces, smashing and grabbing items from destroyed storefronts.
Police were forced to use tear gas rounds in order to quell the crowd. Over 30 arrests were made when the night was over. Multiple officers were injured after rocks were thrown at the police; one officer was struck with a brick.
Monday night, the rioting continued. Reports USA Today:
Police Chief Tom Jackson said members of the crowd threw rocks at police and gunfire came from the crowd, so officers used tear gas and shot "beanbag rounds" meant to stun them. Jackson said police blocked off the area where most of the looting and vandalism occurred the previous night out of concern that cars passing by might hit demonstrators in the street.
St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said there were at least five arrests and no reports of looting. He said police using loudspeakers were urging people to go home.
Brown was reportedly unarmed and had his hands raised over his head when he was gunned down by what appears to be a white officer. A scuffle occurred inside of the police patrol car; an officer was reportedly shoved into the car and a struggle for the officer’s sidearm ensued. One round was fired in the car. The altercation then spilled out into the street, and Brown was thereafter shot.
Details of the scuffle, and what exactly Brown’s role was, remain unclear and under investigation. At least one other person was with Brown at the time.
Sunday night, the vigil for Brown drew a crowd of over a thousand individuals, with the scene taking a decidedly violent turn. Angry protestors demanding answers shouted: “We want answer,” and “No justice, no peace,” while a news conference was being conducted. Some men spray painted “RIP Michael” in the middle of the street. Others walked into the St. Louis police station and shouted, with their hands up: “Don’t shoot me!”
Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden, who attended the vigil, said she needs answers, and she wants the officer who killed her son to face the death penalty.
“I would like to see him fired,” McSpadden said. “I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty. My son just turned 18 and graduated from high school, and he don’t bother nobody. They told me how many times my son was shot. Eight.”
Various pics of Brown have been circulated on social media. One picture, showing a somber-faced teen in a red tank top, throwing up a gang sign, contrasted with another – a younger picture of a smiling Brown in an arcade. MSN News commented on the war raging in the court of public opinion: Black shooting victims face trial by social media
Brown's family, in conjunction with the NAACP, has retained Benjamin Crump, the attorney best known for representing the family of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed black teen who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
“I don't want to sugarcoat it, their baby was executed in broad daylight,” exclaimed Crump while flanked by Michael’s parents. “We want to know and see exactly what happened because this family rejects what the police authorities said at their press conference.”
Says USA Today: “Demonstrators expressed similar frustrations with many saying Brown's death is the latest example of black life not being valued by police officers who see youth of color as dangerous. Several on Twitter using the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown expressed their anger over Brown's death.”