Fer­gu­son un­der state of emer­gency af­ter re­newed clashes

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LOIC HOF­ST­EDT

The racial flash­point city of Fer­gu­son awoke un­der a state of emer­gency Tues­day af­ter a sec­ond night of clashes be­tween po­lice and protesters, a year af­ter the shoot­ing death of an un­armed black teen.

In un­rest that erupted Mon­day evening and stretched into the early hours, an­gry de­mon­stra­tors beat drums and chanted as they threw stones and bot­tles. Po­lice used pep­per spray as they ar­rested nu­mer­ous de­mon­stra­tors.

“Of­fi­cers are be­ing hit with rocks and bot­tles. We con­tinue to sup­port free speech, but ag­i­ta­tors who ig­nore or­ders to dis­perse risk ar­rest,” the St. Louis County po­lice depart­ment said in a tweet.

The protests came af­ter un­rest and a shootout in Fer­gu­son Sun­day night on the first an­niver­sary of the fa­tal shoot­ing of an un­armed young black man, Michael Brown, by a white po­lice of­fi­cer.

As the new vi­o­lence erupted, county of­fi­cials de­clared a state of emer­gency Mon­day af­ter­noon, but stopped short of declar­ing a cur­few.

St. Louis County ex­ec­u­tive Steve Stenger said county po­lice would im­me­di­ately take charge of “po­lice emer­gency man­age­ment” in Fer­gu­son and sur­round­ing dis­tricts.

“In light of last night’s vi­o­lence and un­rest in the city of Fer­gu­son, and the po­ten­tial for harm to per­sons and prop­erty, I am ex­er­cis­ing my au­thor­ity as county ex­ec­u­tive to is­sue a state of emer­gency, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately,” he said in a state­ment.

His state­ment was is­sued as an 18-year-old was charged in con­nec­tion with the shootout on Sun­day fol­low­ing a day of mostly peace­ful protests mark­ing the first an­niver­sary of Brown’s shoot­ing.

His death sparked a na­tion­wide wave of out­rage and protest at po­lice treat­ment of African Amer­i­cans, es­pe­cially over cri­te­ria for use of lethal force.

Ty­rone Harris is ac­cused of first­de­gree as­sault on po­lice of­fi­cers, armed crim­i­nal ac­tion and shoot­ing at a mo­tor ve­hi­cle, po­lice said.

Harris, from North­woods, another sec­tion of St. Louis County, re­mained in the hos­pi­tal Mon­day with wounds sus­tained in the shootout.

In St. Louis city cen­ter, more than 50 protesters were ar­rested af­ter climb­ing the bar­ri­cade around a fed­eral court­house dur­ing a mid­day demon­stra­tion, lo­cal news media re­ported.

Media re­ports late Mon­day said protesters had blocked a main high­way, In­ter­state 70, just out­side Fer­gu­son. De­mon­stra­tors were also ar­rested else­where in town, in­clud­ing scholar and ac­tivist Cor­nel West, Com­plex mag­a­zine re­ported.

Af­ter mid­night a crowd of about 100 protesters re­mained on the streets of Fer­gu­son some­times squar­ing off with po­lice. Hours later the ten­sion had sub­sided.

Looted Shop a ‘wreck’

Sun­day’s day of re­mem­brance for Brown had been peace­ful un­til a hand­ful of protesters grew rowdy later in the evening.

The gun­fire fol­lowed the loot­ing of at least two busi­nesses on a com­mer­cial strip around the cor­ner from where Brown fell.

“I think it’s un­for­tu­nate that a beau­ti­ful day of events ended like that,” said Del­lena Jones, whose hair sa­lon was among the shops hit.

“Some peo­ple broke in to some of the busi­nesses on our lot, and so we are all here help­ing each other,” she told AFP, adding that her shop had been turned into “a wreck.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch strongly con­demned Sun­day’s vi­o­lence, as she spoke Mon­day at a po­lice union con­ven­tion in Pittsburgh, Penn­syl­va­nia.

“Not only does vi­o­lence ob­scure any mes­sage of peace­ful protest, it places the com­mu­nity, as well as the of­fi­cers who seek to pro­tect it, in harm’s way,” she told the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice gath­er­ing.

St. Louis County Po­lice Chief Jon Bel­mar said the shootout started when four plain­clothes de­tec­tives in a van came un­der fire.

AFP video showed a black man ly­ing face down on the ground in hand­cuffs, bleed­ing pro­fusely. Bel­mar de­clined to com­ment on the race of the de­tec­tives.

Out­rage over the po­lice killings of Brown and other un­armed African Amer­i­cans has been chan­neled into a sus­tained na­tion­wide move­ment, with the so­cial media hash­tag #Black­Lives­Mat­ter be­com­ing its ral­ly­ing cry.

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