Riots in St. Louis over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown have entered a third day. Violent protests and looting were punctuated on Tuesday night by the shooting and critical wounding of a protester who drew his weapon on a St. Louis cop.
Brown, an unarmed black teen, was gunned down Saturday night after being involved in a scuffle with police officers. His death has enraged the community of Ferguson, a predominately black town, and touched off racism debates on social media.
Reports the NY Post on Aug. 13: “Violence again erupted in the St. Louis area near the site of the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, according to local police, despite calls by President Barack Obama and activists for a measured response. Police responded about an hour after midnight to reports of four or five men with shotguns and wearing ski masks. They encountered multiple suspects running, one of whom pulled a gun on an officer, who fired at him.”
The USA Today on Aug. 12 said the FBI had opened a civil rights investigation. The teen was shot multiple times after being confronted by an officer in Ferguson, a suburb of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black. Of the 53 police officers on the city’s payroll however, only three are black.
While Brown’s shooter remains nameless (and raceless), USA Today wrote that "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."
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.
Details as to Brown’s death are yet unclear. Brown was with another man, identified as 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, who spoke about watching Brown getting shot. 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.
Groups of individuals in the largely black St. Louis suburb have been causing nightly mayhem. Over 50 individuals have been arrested thus far this week. This despite President Barack Obama issuing a call for reflection, not violence.
“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but … I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said in a statement.
Flanked by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Brown’s father Michael Brown Sr. even called for peace Tuesday night at a church vigil.
“I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way,” said Brown Sr. “No violence.”
Says the NY Post: “Several hundred protesters appeared to heed the calls for non-violence late Tuesday, chanting ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ and ‘No justice, no peace’ during a tense but ultimately peaceful stand-off with police clad in riot gear and flanked by armored vehicles near the site of Brown’s death.”
Brown was described by Sharpton as a “gentle giant.” Some media outlets are reporting that Brown had an extensive criminal record. Although he had a juvenile record, Brown’s arrest record, should he have one, has not been released.
“To become violent in Michael Brown’s name is to betray the gentle giant that he was,” Sharpton said.
Police have refused to disclose the race of the officer, despite saying they would do so on Tuesday. Citing fear of retaliation by the protestors demanding his identity be released, police withdrew the information.