Violence rages in Ferguson
Dozens held while protests over grand jury’s ruling rage
SCHOOLS closed in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, and demonstrations were planned yesterday outside the court where a grand jury cleared a white police officer over the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teen, sparking violent protests.
About a dozen buildings in Ferguson burnt overnight and police fired teargas and stun grenades at protesters, St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said. Sixty-one people were arrested, he added. Although no serious injuries were reported, Belmar said the rioting on Monday night and early yesterday was much worse than disturbances which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9.
Protests were also staged on Monday night in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland in California and Washington, DC over a case that has highlighted long-standing racial tensions not just in predominantly black Ferguson, but across the US.
Schools in Ferguson and its surrounding cities planned not to open yesterday. Protesters were scheduled to demonstrate yesterday out- side the court in Clayton, Missouri, where the grand jury sat.
The rioting came despite calls for calm from officials ranging from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to President Barack Obama. Activist leaders had spent weeks training protesters in non-violent civil disobedience techniques, and police had also been through conflict deescalation training, though tempers flared after crowds threw bricks at police and set patrol cars on fire after the grand jury’s decision.
Officials disclosed the ruling well after sunset and hours after saying it was coming, a set of circumstances that led to protesters taking to the streets well after dark.
“I didn’t see a lot of peaceful protests out there,” Belmar said, adding that the rioting was “probably far worse than the worst night” of demonstrations in August after Brown’s death.
“Unfortunately, this spun out of control,” he added.
BURNING ANGER: Protesters gather around burning refuse in Oakland, California, yesterday after the announcement that a grand jury had decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Thousands of protesters descended on Oakland.