Ferguson Protests Erupt Again Despite Curfew
Seven people were arrested and one man was shot on the first night that Missouri State Highway Patrol officers attempted to enforce a state-imposed curfew on Ferguson, Missouri. After protests and looting quieted during the week, they became occasionally violent again on Friday and Saturday.
The shooting victim is in critical condition. It is unclear if he was a protester or not, and officials say he was not shot by police.
The demonstrations follow the shooting by police last week of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old. Tempers may have been inflamed this weekend by the release of a surveillance video that may show Brown robbing a liquor store in the hours prior to the shooting, which some perceive as an attempt to justify the shooting or mar his character.
Witness accounts vary greatly on the midday shooting. Police now say Brown and a friend were stopped for walking down the middle of a busy road, when an officer then noticed Brown in possession of what may have been stolen property; and that a struggle then ensued. Others say Brown was shot in the back, with his hands in the air, trying to surrender.
(Update: The preliminary results of the Brown family’s private autopsy show that Brown was shot in the front and in the top of his head, not the back.)
Pending the investigation, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon placed the Highway Patrol in charge of local policing, under the command of Capt. Ron Johnson.
The Huffington Post reports that a “strange party-like atmosphere” took hold in Ferguson as the curfew went into effect, with a much younger crowd out on the streets than had been seen earlier in the week.
Protesters themselves were seen protecting local business from the looting that has plagued the city. Despite that, a local beauty shop was robbed of hair extensions, and the liquor store that had been robbed was vandalized. The police, previously criticized for their aggression, did not act to stop the looting.
Also on Sunday, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would take the unusual step of performing its own autopsy on Brown, citing “extraordinary circumstances.”
[via USA Today]