Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Police in Ferguson fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse protesters late on Wednesday, on the fourth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting last weekend of an unarmed black teenager Brown, 18, by a police officer on Saturday after what police said was a struggle with a gun in a police car. A witness in the case told local media that Brown had raised his arms to police to show that he was unarmed before being killed. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Shooting of Michael Brown
The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, United States. Brown was an unarmed, 18-year-old African-American male, killed after being shot multiple times by an unnamed Ferguson police officer. The incident sparked protests and acts of vandalism in the St. Louis suburb, as well as national calls for an investigation.
Brown, who had recently graduated from high school, was days away from starting college and had no criminal record.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a civil rights investigation of the shooting on August 11, and the next day U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement expressing condolences to Brown’s family, also committing federal resources to conduct an investigation.
On Saturday, August 9, at around 2:00 p.m., Michael Brown, 18, and Dorian Johnson, 22, both African American men, were walking to Brown’s grandmother’s house. A Ferguson police officer drove up to them and ordered them to move off the street and onto the sidewalk. An altercation ensued, and a gun within the police officer’s vehicle was fired, after which Brown and Johnson began to flee. The officer left his vehicle and pursued them, then fired an unspecified number of shots, fatally wounding Brown. Brown died approximately 35 feet (11 m) from the police cruiser. Johnson was not injured.
On August 10, Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, announced that their department would be in charge of the investigation, after receiving a request from Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson to investigate the shooting. When the investigation is complete, the St. Louis County police will turn over the case to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch, who will determine whether or not charges need to be filed.
The Ferguson Police department declined to name the officer involved in the shooting, citing concerns for his safety and refused to commit to a deadline for releasing a full autopsy report. On August 11, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a parallel civil rights investigation into the incident, and Attorney General Eric Holder instructed the Justice Department staff to monitor the developments.
According to the spokeswoman for the FBI’s St. Louis field office, the protests and riots played no role in the FBI’s decision to investigate.
On August 10, a day of vigils began peacefully, but some crowd members started to behave in an unruly manner after the candlelight vigil. Local police stations assembled approximately 150 officers in riot gear. The crowd then began looting businesses, vandalizing vehicles and confronting police who sought to block off access to several areas of the city. At least 12 businesses were looted or vandalized, a gas station was set on fire, leading to over 30 arrests. Many windows were broken and several nearby businesses closed on Monday. The people arrested face charges of assault, burglary and theft. Police used a variety of equipment, including riot gear and helicopters, to disperse the crowd by 2 a.m. Two police officers suffered minor injuries during the events.
On August 11, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd at the shell of the QuikTrip convenience store burnt out the night before. According to reports, gunshots were fired in Ferguson and five people were arrested. Wome protesters allegedly threw rocks at police. The police responded by firing tear gas and bean bag rounds upon those protesting, including State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal. Between August 12 and 13, police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at lines of protesters and reporters. At least seven protesters were arrested on the evening of August 12 and 13, after police told protesters to “‘go home’ or face arrest.” CNN cameras filmed an officer addressing a group of protestors by saying “Bring it, you fucking animals, bring it.” According to The Washington Post, the Ferguson Police Department “bears little demographic resemblance” to the mostly African-American community, which already harbored “suspicions of the law enforcement agency” preceding Brown’s shooting. An annual report last year by the office of Missouri’s attorney general concluded that Ferguson police were “twice as likely to arrest African Americans during traffic stops as they were whites.”
On August 12, several hundred protestors gathered in Clayton, the county seat, seeking criminal prosecution of the officer involved in the shooting. Protestors in Ferguson carried signs and many held their hands in the air while shouting “don’t shoot”. According to police, some protestors threw bottles at the officers, prompting the use of tear gas to disperse the crowd. The following day, a heavily-armed SWAT team of around 70 officers arrived at a protest demanding that protesters disperse. On the night of August 13, police used smoke bombs, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Video footage of the events recorded by KARG Argus Radio shows Ferguson Police firing tear gas into a residential neighborhood and ordering the journalist to cease recording.
For more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown
President Obama Issues a Statement on the Death of Michael Brown
David Hudson August 12, 2014 05:02 PM EDT
This afternoon, President Obama issued a statement on the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was fatally shot on Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri:
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.
READ MORE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/08/12/president-obama-issues-statement-death-michael-brown
August 14, 2014
President Obama Statement on Displaced Iraqis and Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days and that’s the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country, as police have clashed with people protesting. Today, I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.
This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been following it and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground.
The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the Attorney General that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened, and to see that justice is done.
I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now is the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened, and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that, working together, he is going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.
Of course, it’s important to remember how this started. We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. He was 18 years old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities –- including the police -– have a responsibility to be open and transparent about how they are investigating that death, and how they are protecting the people in their communities.
There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.
I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened. There are going to be different accounts of how this tragedy occurred. There are going to be differences in terms of what needs to happen going forward. That’s part of our democracy. But let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family. We are united in common values, and that includes belief in equality under the law; a basic respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protest; a reverence for the dignity of every single man, woman and child among us; and the need for accountability when it comes to our government.
So now is the time for healing. Now is the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson. Now is the time for an open and transparent process to see that justice is done. And I’ve asked that the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to move that process forward. They will be reporting to me in the coming days about what’s being done to make sure that happens.
Thanks very much, everybody.
12:58 P.M. EDT
Thursday, August 14, 2014 doj.gov
Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder on Latest Developments in Ferguson, Missouri
Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement Thursday following his meeting earlier today with President Obama to discuss the latest developments in Ferguson, Missouri:
“This morning, I met with President Obama to discuss the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Like the President, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Brown. While his death has understandably caused heartache within the community, it is clear that the scenes playing out in the streets of Ferguson over the last several nights cannot continue.
“For one thing, while the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, acts of violence by members of the public cannot be condoned. Looting and willful efforts to antagonize law enforcement officers who are genuinely trying to protect the public do nothing to remember the young man who has died. Such conduct is unacceptable and must be unequivocally condemned.
“By the same token, the law enforcement response to these demonstrations must seek to reduce tensions, not heighten them. Those who peacefully gather to express sympathy for the family of Michael Brown must have their rights respected at all times. And journalists must not be harassed or prevented from covering a story that needs to be told.
“At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message. At my direction, Department officials have conveyed these concerns to local authorities. Also at my direction, the Department is offering – through our COPS office and Office of Justice Programs – technical assistance to local authorities in order to help conduct crowd control and maintain public safety without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force. The local authorities in Missouri have accepted this offer of assistance as of this afternoon.
For more: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/August/14-ag-854.html
The mayhem in Ferguson, Missouri, will be arriving shortly on Capitol Hill.
A House Democrat from Georgia plans to introduce the first piece of legislation responding to the shooting in the suburb of St. Louis that would focus on stopping a program providing machine guns and free military equipment to local law enforcement.
Rep. Hank Johnson sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday morning alerting lawmakers that he is putting forward the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The action comes in the wake of a policeman shooting an unarmed black man that has created an increasingly tense relationship between the police and the city’s largely African-American population. The response of local police, including the use of tear gas on protesters, has been criticized as overly aggressive.
“Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s,” Johnson wrote. “Unfortunately, due to a Department of Defense (DOD) Program that transfers surplus DOD equipment to state and local law enforcement, our local police are quickly beginning to resemble paramilitary forces.”
Further, Johnson said the legislation would “end the free transfers of certain aggressive military equipment to local law enforcement and ensure that all equipment can be accounted for.
Johnson’s legislation is focused on a Pentagon surplus program that has allowed cities across the nation to acquire military equipment. like mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union endorse the legislation.
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