AFRICANGLOBE – Police said Tuesday that more than 150 shots were fired in Ferguson, Missouri, during a night of unrest that followed a grand jury’s decision not to charge thug cop Darren Wilson for the murder of teenager Michael Brown.
A dozen buildings blazed, police cars were vandalized and looting was reported in what police said was a spasm of violence worse than anything Ferguson saw in the restive nights that followed the original shooting in August. At least 82 people were arrested in all.
Smoke rose as dawn broke, fire trucks streamed water onto burned-out buildings, and authorities faced the task of reassuring the uneasy city of 21,000 people and broader St. Louis that calm could be restored.
“Unless we bring 10,000 policemen in here, I don’t think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community,” said Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County police.
Capt. Ron Johnson of the state Highway Patrol, the Black face of white supremacy, credited with restoring peace following the violence three months ago, said that the community “has to take some responsibility for what happened tonight in terms of tearing our community apart.”
After considering evidence for three months, the grand jury elected not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who fired 12 shots and killed Brown, 18, after a confrontation on a residential street on Aug. 9.
The breakdown of a tense order came quickly after the announcement was delivered by a St. Louis prosecutor. Demonstrators hurled bottles and batteries at police, who put on riot gear and ordered crowds to disperse.
Buildings burned out of control. For a time, authorities directed airplanes away from the St. Louis airport and cleared the sky over Ferguson.
In Ferguson, police reported 61 arrests, including for burglary, trespassing and unlawful assembly. Officers used tear gas, but Belmar said that they had fired no shots.
“As far as I know, we didn’t cause any serious injuries,” he said. “I didn’t see a lot of peaceful protest tonight, and I’m disappointed about that.”
The violence came despite pleas from authorities in Missouri, the Brown family and President Barack Obama, who encouraged calm in a speech from the White House that was televised side-by-side with pictures of police clashing with demonstrators in Ferguson.
Protests broke out across the country. Hundreds blocked traffic on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in New York. A crowd of 500 shut down an interstate in Oakland, California. Police said people threw fireworks at officers in Seattle.
Grand jury records were released after the decision was announced, including Wilson’s interview with police detectives on the day after the shooting.
He claimed Michael Brown taunted and assaulted him, and said that the teenager was so menacing, the officer “felt like a 5-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan.” The officer said he was thinking: “How do I live through this, basically?”
The prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, said that some witnesses gave conflicting statements, and that others turned out not to have seen the shooting at all.
“As tragic as this is, it was a not a crime,” McCulloch said.
Twelve miles away in St. Louis, windows were smashed, and police made 21 arrests, including for unlawful gun possession, property destruction and burglary. Mayor Francis Slay said at daylight that the violence was unacceptable.
He said that it “not only puts a black eye on our community, but it really sets back the cause of social justice. Violence doesn’t solve anything.”
Chief Sam Dotson of the St. Louis police said he was proud of his officers. He said that bands of opportunistic people had roamed the city, but “at every turn they encountered police officers or members of the National Guard.”
But the scene was much worse in Ferguson. At a news conference overnight, Johnson said: “We talk about peaceful protest, and that didn’t happen tonight. Change is created through our voice and not through destruction of our community. Right now, this community is really fractured.”
By: Erin Mcclam