Missouri police call for daylight rallies after violence flares

Police officers keep watch while demonstrators (not pictured) protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014.
MARIO ANZUONI | REUTERS
Police officers keep watch while demonstrators (not pictured) protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014.
Posted Aug. 13, 2014, at 7:42 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 13, 2014, at 5:12 p.m.

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Demonstrators march in the street in St. Louis, Missouri on August 12, 2014 while protesting the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.
MARIO ANZUONI | REUTERS
Demonstrators march in the street in St. Louis, Missouri on August 12, 2014 while protesting the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown.

FERGUSON, Mo. — Police in Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday urged demonstrators to rally only during daylight hours after three nights of sometimes violent protests sparked by the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a yet unnamed police officer.

Another march and rally were planned for Wednesday afternoon, the latest in a series that have gripped the largely black suburban St. Louis neighborhood since Saturday’s officer-involved shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown.

Police have declined to release the name of the officer involved in the incident, citing concerns for his safety, a decision that has been sharply criticized by demonstrators who have asked for more transparency. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Wednesday the officer involved in the shooting had been injured during the incident and was treated in the hospital for swelling on the side of his face.

Jackson said the priority for the town of Ferguson right now is improving race relations that have been badly damaged by the shooting. Jackson said that the mostly white police force was always trying to improve diversity in its ranks. “It is a constant struggle to hire and retain personnel,” he said.

“I don’t know that the name will be given out, unless if the prosecuting attorney conducted an investigation if he determines there is a reason to issue a warrant,” Tim Zoll, public information officer for the Ferguson police told Reuters.

Officials have said it could take two weeks for prosecutors to complete their investigation and decide whether to charge the police officer involved.

National figures from President Barack Obama to civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton have called for a peaceful response to the shooting which has highlighted a stubborn racial divide in the St. Louis suburb.

On Wednesday volunteers were sweeping up garbage and broken glass from the site of looting on Sunday evening. There has not been further looting since that night but police have fired teargas and rubber bullets to break up protests and arrested protesters.

Ferguson police called for protests to be held during daylight hours after more violence in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

A St. Louis County police officer shot and critically wounded a 19-year-old male allegedly involved with Tuesday night’s protests after the subject pulled a gun and pointed it at the officer, St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said.

Schellman said police had recovered a weapon at the scene of the incident and would not release the name of the officer in that shooting unless he or she is charged with a crime after an investigation, which he said was customary practice.

Before the shooting, police had fired teargas to break up protests in the area.

Schellman said witnesses have said that the man who was shot had participated in the protests, but that the confrontation with police occurred a few blocks up the street.

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged weekend shooting of Brown, and St. Louis County also is investigating.

Meanwhile, police in California were investigating a separate incident of an officer fatally shooting an unarmed 24-year-old black man in Los Angeles.

In Ferguson, friends and family of Brown held a peaceful church vigil on Tuesday night and called on protesters to demonstrate without violence.

Police from neighboring districts have been called in to reinforce the Ferguson police and a new protest was called for 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

On social media, groups claiming to be associated with the Anonymous hacker activist group called for nationwide protests around the Brown shooting and also threatened to reveal personal information about police officers in Ferguson.

The Ferguson police said there have been attempts to hack their website and it has been temporarily disrupted, but no information had been compromised.

“They have made threats about posting some officers’ personal information,” said information officer Zoll. He said some information that has been posted about officers was erroneous, however.

He said that it was precisely the cyberthreats that had led to the decision not to release the officer’s name. He said experts in cybercrime were assisting the department in investigating the disruption of the website and the threats.

Police said Brown was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why he was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle, and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said.

A witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed.

But that witness has not spoken to police, according to media reports.

Ferguson has seen a stark demographic shift in recent decades, going from mostly white to mostly black. About two-thirds of the town’s 21,000-strong population are black. On a police force of 53, three officers are black.

 

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