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Ferguson citizens' mistrust of police force grows amidst chaos

Overnight Saturday, in Ferguson, Missouri — a St. Louis suburb of 22,400 — conditions took a turn for the worse. A state of emergency was declared and a curfew was imposed for Saturday night by Missouri governor, Jay Nixon (D). Protestors exercising their First Amendment rights ignored the curfew and were met with SWAT teams firing smoke canisters and tear gas into the marchers. According to reports on Sunday, August 17 on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, a protestor was shot by someone among the protestors and had to be hospitalized in critical condition. Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, an African American from Ferguson and trusted by residents, confirmed the incident. Captain Johnson's presence had calmed the protestors on Saturday as reports surrounding the tragic shooting of the unarmed young Ferguson resident, Michael Brown, were revealed just hours short of a full week after the tragedy. Tempers were high and answers were demanded to account for such an inexplicable and unspeakable calamity.

Tensions remain high and the nation's attention increases as affairs continue to unfold in Ferguson.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

For nearly five hours, the body of 18-year-old Michael Brown lay, exposed, in the street where he had been slain by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. Wilson, it was alleged by Dorian Johnson — a friend of Michael Brown's who had been with him August 9, the night of the fatal shooting — shot the teen who had been walking home from his grandparents' home. Both he and the victim had been unarmed when Wilson drew a gun, sitting in the patrol squad, and began firing, hitting Brown in the upper chest. At this point, the teens fled; Wilson got out his car and pursued them. Johnson hid; Brown kept running. Wilson shot, again; Brown stopped, turned around, fell to his knees with his hands in the air; Wilson approached and continued to shoot, hitting Brown at least four more times as he stood over the teen, killing him. Johnson said he, then, got up and ran, as fast as he could, home.

Although Dorian Johnson was an eyewitness and directly involved in the incident, Ferguson Police Department gave no credence to his account, preferring not to issue a public statement nor identify the police officer who shot the unarmed teen, claimed they were conducting an investigation into the incident. Residents of Ferguson — 67% of Ferguson's community is black; 29% is white — took to the streets in peaceful protest, demanding that the name of the officer be released. Of the 53 officers on the police force, only three are African American. The disproportionate ratio of racial composition of the force that is expected to serve and protect is one of the primary factors in the mistrust from the predominately African American suburban Missouri community. The addition of the disrespect of the body of the unarmed teen and the accusations levied against the victim, while the man accused of his murder remains free, and the recent release of two of three autopsy reports, has caused an atmosphere of chaos to hover over the community.

Monday, August 18, the federal government ordered a third autopsy on Michael Brown. It has been disclosed that 6 foot-4 inch Michael had been shot at least six times, two of those shots were to his head. One of those head shots is being called “the kill shot” — meaning that Michael would not have survived nor moved after that head shot.

Governor Jay Nixon sent in the National Guard to maintain order. The governor, also, canceled the curfew for Monday evening. A hearsay account of the incident from Darren Wilson as told to a friend only identified as Josie was released, anonymously, to the media. At least three other eyewitness accounts that support Dorian Johnson's account have been shared, on camera by identified witnesses, with media.

Tensions remain high and the nation's attention increases as affairs continue to unfold in Ferguson. As the second week following the tragic death of college-bound Michael Brown approaches, his grieving parents have not had the appropriate moment of privacy in which to mourn the loss of their son.

President Barack Obama has offered his condolences to the Brown family, has asked the country to “reflect” upon the tragedy, and will make a second address on the incident in Ferguson on Monday afternoon. Department of Justice investigations into the Ferguson tragedy, as well as incidents in Dallas, Texas and several other U.S. cities with police shootings of unarmed African American males, have been ordered.

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