Protestor shot in Ferguson in critical condition as tensions flare
WASHINGTON, August 17, 2014 — A federal autopsy of Michael Brown has been approved by the DOJ. The question is how many times was Michael Brown shot, where was he shot and what are the circumstances surrounding the shooting. Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Attorney General Eric Holder has requested an additional autopsy of Brown to be performed by a federal medical examiner.
“This independent examination will take place as soon as possible,” the statement said. “Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.”
As a result of the looting and violence in Ferguson, Missouri, police enforced a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew Saturday night. Police fired smoke cannisters early Sunday morning in an effort to disperse several dozen protesters. Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed the curfew to curb violence surrounding protestors angered over the shooting of Michael Brown.
“I am committed to making sure the forces of peace and justice prevail,” Nixon said during a Saturday press conference at a church, interrupted repeatedly by people objecting to the curfew and demanding that the officer who shot Brown be charged with murder.
“We must first have and maintain peace. This is a test. The eyes of the world are watching,” Nixon said. “We cannot allow the ill will of the few to undermine the good will of the many.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said Saturday police will not be using tear gas. However, live feeds of police activity show armored vehicles filled with police officers heavily geared up, even as the police on the street visible to the protestors are mostly in non-riot dress. They do have helmets, vests, and riot shields.
Media reports claimed some 150-200 protestors, but Alderman Antonio French, who was among the protestors attempting to quell violence and encouraging people to disperse and go home, said that the numbers were more likely 50-60. Hundreds had left peacefully before the midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew took effect.
Others chanting “no justice, no peace” stayed.
After the violence of last night, French tweeted:
“I can tell you firsthand that some of the people that remained tonight were armed. Were ready for a fight. And wanted to injure police.”
The Missouri Highway Patrol said that seven people were arrested and one man had been shot. The identity of the person shooting the protestor is not known. There is some indication that it may have been by a non-police gun. That shooting victim is in critical condition.
Johnson said tear gas was eventually used after protesters broke into a barbecue restaurant, taking a high position on the roof where they were able to overlook approaching police. A protestor was reported armed with a handgun and that a shot was fired at a patrol car, but not returned by police.
“I was disappointed in the actions of tonight,” Johnson said.
Five armored tactical vehicles approached the Saturday post-curfew crowd. Officers spoke through a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately. Failure to comply may result in arrest.”
Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz initially said police only used smoke, but later told The Associated Press they also fired tear gas canisters. He said of police efforts, “Obviously, we’re trying to give them every opportunity to comply with the curfew.”
Protestors began to chant, “We have the right to assemble peacefully.” A moment later, police began firing canisters into the crowd. Protesters said their faces and eyes had been burned. Others screamed in pain.
Jayson Ross, who was leading the protesters toward police, said, “They got guns. We got guns. We are ready.” As midnight approached, New Black Panther Party leader Malik Shabazz roamed the street with a bullhorn, encouraging people to leave for their own safety.
“C’mon you all, let’s roll out,” Shabazz said through his bullhorn. “Let’s roll out of here, get some rest and come back tomorrow.”