AFRICANGLOBE – Authorities in a St Louis suburb where unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown was gunned down by police have used teargas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds as unrest continued through Monday night.
Ferguson police Chief Tom Jackson said a group had gathered relatively peacefully throughout the day on Monday at a burned-out convenience store but turned rowdy as night fell.
Jackson claimed people threw rocks at police and gunfire came from the crowd. He says officers used teargas and shot “beanbag rounds” meant to stun them.
An Associated Press photographer said police were telling people to go home but authorities had blocked exit streets off. Jackson said police blocked off the area where most of the vandalism occurred the previous night out of concern that cars passing by might hit demonstrators in the street.
Jackson said officers were focused on dispersing the crowd, which was smaller than the night before, but were making arrests and reported being fired on at some locations. “They are shooting at us now,” Jackson said, adding that officers from 10 to 15 jurisdictions were assisting Ferguson.
St Louis county police spokesman Brian Schellman later said there were at least five arrests and no reports of looting. He said police using loudspeakers were urging people to go home.
Looting and unrest initially broke out on Sunday following a vigil for 18-year-old Michael Brown, who according to witnesses was gunned down on Saturday by Ferguson police while his hands were in the air.
The FBI opened an investigation on Monday into the death. Police have said Michael Brown was shot multiple times on Saturday after being confronted by an officer in Ferguson, where nearly 70% of the 21,000 residents are Black.
Authorities were vague about exactly what led the officer to open fire on Michael Brown, except to claim that the shooting was preceded by a scuffle with a man. It was unclear whether Brown or a man with him was involved in the altercation. Some witnesses have denied there was any scuffle under way involving Michael Brown when he was shot.
The FBI was looking into possible civil rights violations, said Cheryl Mimura, a spokeswoman for the agency’s St Louis field office. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, said the case deserved a full review.
Following a candlelight vigil on Sunday night, crowds burned stores, vandalized vehicles in anger at another wanton police killing of an unarmed Black teen.
Thirty-two people were arrested, police said. Two officers suffered minor injuries. There were no reports of civilians hurt.
On Monday the scene of the shooting was marked with a makeshift memorial of candles and signs in the middle of the narrow street where Michael Brown was gunned down.