Ferguson police officers clashed once again last night with a violent wave of irate protestors, undermining what up until that point had been a relatively peaceful two days in Ferguson, Missouri – a small town interposed with race-driven dissent and violent protests.
Writes The Associated Press via MSN News on Aug. 15: “Anger spurred by the death of a black teenager at the hands of a white police officer boiled over again when protesters stormed into a Missouri convenience store — the same one Michael Brown was accused of robbing.”
The AP report says that 200 protestors took to the streets late Friday night and early this morning, enraged by the information released yesterday by Missouri Police Chief Tom Jackson. While Jackson released the identity of Michael Brown’s killer – a white, six-year officer named Darren Wilson – Jackson also indicated that when Wilson stopped Brown for questioning, the officer had no clue about the convenience store robbery.
That admission, coupled with what Brown’s family is calling a scheming and unprompted release of video that supposedly shows Brown being involved in the robbery, led to yet another night of looting, violence and more arrests.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed last Saturday after a scuffle involving Brown and another man, 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, occurred inside of a Ferguson patrol car. Brown, who was reportedly unarmed, was shot after the confrontation continued outside of the police car. The shooting — and the initial decision by police to withhold the officer's name — had sparked week long protests and violent riots and looting.
Friday night, looters broke into Ferguson Market & Liquor – the same store that police accuse Michael Brown of stealing a $50 box of cigars from. Police in riot gear stepped in; a skirmish line of police and squad cars was set up nearby, and rioters began to chuck rocks and other objects.
The renewed violence comes just a few days after Missouri police Capt. Ron Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, was appointed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as chief of security operations in the riot-driven Ferguson. Johnson, who was seen leading a crowd of peaceful protesters Thursday night, said a “new approach” was needed to deal with the continued unrest and looting. Nixon said he was outraged over the “heavy-handed tactics” of police, and turned matters over to Ferguson and his troopers.
The AP report cites Johnson saying he believed other stores were hit by looters, and says a “crowd that had surrounded the convenience store dispersed but continued north. Two men in white undershirts threw debris through the windows of a liquor store and could be seen walking through the store as an alarm wailed.”
Surveillance video released by the police at the same time they named Brown’s killer was condemned by the mostly black community – both for its content and the timing of the release.
“[The police] have attempted to taint the investigation,” U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay said via a bullhorn last night. “They are trying to influence a jury pool by the stunt they pulled today.”
The video shows a man matching Brown’s description grabbing and shoving a store clerk back and into a display rack. Brown and another man are accused of walking out with a box of cigars.
Writes the AP:
Family attorney Daryl Parks acknowledged the man in the footage "appears to be" Brown. But he and others said Brown's family was blindsided by the allegations and release of the footage. They said that even if it was Brown, the crime didn't justify the shooting after Brown put up his hands in surrender, as witnesses describe.
Anthony Gray, who is representing the Brown family, released a statement that said: “There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.”