The Situation in Ferguson Continues to Worsen as the National Guard Steps In

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On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to do another autopsy on the black Missouri teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer that incited a week of peaceful and sometimes violent protests in suburban St. Louis, Nigel Duara and Jim Suhr report, Federal autopsy ordered in Missouri teen’s death. Department of Justice spokesman Brian Fallon cited a family member’s request and the “extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the case of 18 year old Michael Brown to explain the decision. In statement, Fallon explained: “This independent examination will take place as soon as possible. Even after it is complete, Justice Department officials still plan to take the state-performed autopsy into account in the course of their investigation.” Justice Department officials said a day earlier 40 FBI agents went door to door gathering information in the Ferguson, Missouri, neighborhood where the unarmed Brown was shot to death in the middle of the street on Aug. 9. Holder’s latest announcement followed the first night of state imposed curfew in Ferguson which ended with tear gas and seven arrests after police in riot gear used armored vehicles to disperse protestors. Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson explained the protestors were not the reason for the escalated police reaction early Sunday after the midnight curfew, but a report of people who broke into a barbeque restaurant and took to the roof and a man flashed a handgun in the street as armored vehicles approached a crowd of protestors. The protests have been going on since Brown’s death intensified racial tensions between the black community and mostly white Ferguson Police Department, causing several clashes with police and protestors prompting Missouri’s governor to bring in the Highway Patrol to take over security. As the curfew arrived on Sunday, most left but some protestors refused to leave the area as officers announced over a loudspeaker: “You are in violation of a state-imposed curfew. You must disperse immediately.” As officers put gas masks on, a chant from the crowd erupted: “We have the right to assemble peacefully.” A moment later, police fired canisters into the crowd including tear gas and smoke, according to what Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. John Hotz told the Associated Press. Nigel Duara and Jim Suhr reports, Private autopsy reveals Brown was shot 6 times, the preliminary autopsy revealed Brown was shot six times including twice in the head. Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, told the New York Times that one bullet entered the top pf Brown’s skull suggesting that his head was bent forward when he suffered the fatal injury. In addition, Brown was shot four times in the right arm and all bullets were fired into his front. David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who supervised the criminal civil rights sections of Miami’s U.S. attorney’s office, said a federally conducted autopsy “more closely focused on entry point of projectiles, defensive wounds and bruises.” Back in Ferguson, the latest clashes happened three hours before Gov. Jay Nixon’s state imposed curfew as police shouted over bullhorns that the protest were no longer peaceful making it unclear why officers acted ahead of the deadline to get people off the streets.

Earlier in the day, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, whose agency is in charge of security in Ferguson, said he had met with Brown’s family and the experience “brought tears to my eyes and shame to my heart.” He added: “When this is over. I’m going to go in my son’s room. My black son, who wears his pants sagging, who wears his hat cocked to the side, got tattoos on his arms, but that’s my baby. “We all need to thank the Browns for Michael. Because Michael’s going to make it better for our sons to be better black men.” Police had little to say about the encounter between Brown and the officer, except to say the officer and Brown were involved in a scuffled that resulted in Brown being shot and the officer being injured. However, witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple shots. The officer who shot brown was identified as Darren Wilson, a six year veteran of the force and had no prior complaints against him. Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting and the department will not say anything about his whereabouts. On Sunday, 150 people gathers in St. Louis to show support for Wilson as the crowd protested outside a TV station who broadcast in front of the officer’s home. The St. Louis Post Dispatch said the station, KSDK, apologized. The group composed mostly of police and relatives of officers carried signs urging people to wait for all the facts. Unfortunately, due to the tense situation escalating after the first night of the curfew, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Monday ordered the National Guard to the St. Louis suburb, Nigel Duara and Jim Suhr report, Mo. governor sends National Guard to Ferguson. Nixon said the National Guard will help restore peace and order to Ferguson where over the fatal shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown has entered its second week. Police defended their action toward protesters and only responded due to gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails. In a statement, Nixon said: “These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes.” Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is in command in Ferguson, said: “Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of response.”

The Battle for Civil Rights in Ferguson Continues 50 Years Later

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Michael Brown, 18, walked to his grandmother’s neighborhood in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug.9 when he was fatally shot by a police officer sparking outrage from people around the country and inciting clashes with the people of Ferguson and the “militarized” police with their armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets. As Cate Matthews puts it, Photos From Ferguson And 1960s Protests Side By Side Make It Clear How Little Has Changed, the scene in Ferguson looks like the 1960s when such responses were far too common. Social media, however, has changed the way the world sees these action as internet users across the country have uploaded images of the police response to civil rights protests and photos from Ferguson that look eerily similar raising the question: How far have we really come? Sharon Cohen and Alan Scher Zagier, Police images fuel outrage in St. Louis and beyond, describe the images as reminiscent of a war zone with helmeted officers pointing weapons from armored trucks, flash grenades lighting the night sky and tear gas being launched into the crowds. The clashes between police and protestors in the St. Louis suburb has sparked heavy criticism and raised question about whether the tactics used were causing the same violence they aimed to prevent after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Thomas Nolan, a former Boston police officer and criminal justice professor at the State University of New York at Plattsburg, said: “It’s clear what is going on in Ferguson is a complete, hyper-exaggerated, hysterical response on the part of law enforcement. It’s clear that there is no one in charge and no one to corral the officers … and restrain them from engaging in an unprecedented show of brutal force against civilians. It’s horrifying and shameful and a disgrace.” On Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon announced the Missouri State Highway Patrol were relieving the officers of Ferguson and taking over security in the suburb commenting “that we use force only when necessary, that we step back a little bit.” It was the fourth day of street protests spurred by the shooting of the 18 year old by a white police officer resulting in 60 people being arrested since last Sunday. On Thursday, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the police are trying to balance the public’s rights to protests with public safety adding that: “If firebombs are being thrown, property gets destroyed, shots get fired … we have to respond to deadly force.” St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman defended the actions of the police: “In talking to these guys, it is scary. They hear gunshots going off, and they don’t know where they’re coming from.” He also said coins, bricks and rocks also have been thrown at police. Two officers have been injured. One had an ankle broken by a thrown brick, according to authorities. President Obama, who is on vacation, said while “emotions are raw now,” there needs to be a “respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.” Attorney General Eric Holder said the use of military equipment by Ferguson police sent a “conflicting message.” Missouri officials have accepted the help of the Justice Department to control the crowds and help with public safety “without relying on unnecessarily extreme displays of force.” During a visit to Ferguson, Sen. Claire McCaskill said “the militarization of the response became more of a problem than the solution. It escalated the situation. … These people need to be allowed to exercise their rights, with safety and respect.” The events in Ferguson were part of a growing trend among police departments around the country, according to a American Civil Liberties Union reports in June that states police were overwhelmingly relying on SWAT raids for routine work like small amounts of drugs and serving warrants using assault rifles, battering rams and flash grenades. These raids also disproportionately affected minorities.

Late Friday, Jim Salter reports, Police, protestors clash again in Ferguson, police and 200 protestors clashed after another tense day in the suburb following a news conference in which officer Darren Wilson was names and Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson release alleged documents that state Brown stole a $48.99 box of cigars from the convenience store then strong armed a man on the way out. Just before midnight, a rowdy but mostly well behaved crowd broke into the same store and began looting it, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson. Meanwhile, peaceful protestors blocked off the front of the store eventually to help protect it yelling at the aggressors to stop. Wilson, the officer named in the shooting, has been on paid administrative leave and St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could be weeks before the investigation into the shooting wraps up. On Friday, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley asked Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to take over the case as he did not believe McCulloch could be objective. Koster said Missouri law does not allow unless he opts out and McCulloch spokesman Ed Magee said McCulloch will not surrender the case. Some disturbing news out of the St. Louis suburb comes in the form of increased gun sales, according to local gun shops, Hunter Stuart reports, Ferguson Unrest Is Causing Locals To Stock Up On Guns. The unrest in Ferguson is sending residents to the gun shop. Dorian Johnson, 22, who was with Brown when the shooting happened, explained to a local news outlet KSDK-TV that the officer shot Brown while he was running away and then shot him again after Brown put his hands in the air. Brown was two days away from attending college, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Since the shooting, dozens of arrest have been made and reports of gunfire around town including: “A 19-year-old was shot by police Wednesday after allegedly pointing a gun at an officer; the teen is in critical condition. A woman was shot in the head during an alleged drive-by shooting early Wednesday morning. Police have urged protesters to assemble only during daylight hours. Authorities even asked the Federal Aviation Administration to institute a no-fly zone over Ferguson after police helicopters were allegedly fired at.”

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spoke to the media about the situation in Ferguson shortly after the Ferguson Police Department revealed the name of the officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown, according to Paige Lavender, Jay Nixon: ‘Nothing Should Deter Figuring Out How And Why Michael Brown Was Killed’. Nixon stated: “Nothing should deter figuring out how and why Michael Brown was killed.” Nixon said he thinks the decision to give Missouri State Highway Patrol control of the situation in Ferguson made a positive difference in the last 18 hours. Lavender reports before the media was addressed that Nixon released a statement on the Ferguson Police Departments’ release of Wilson’s name: “I’m pleased that the people of Ferguson and the region began to get some long-overdue information today, and I will continue to call for openness and transparency as the parallel investigations into this tragedy proceed to their necessary conclusions. For the sake of the family, the citizens of Ferguson, and the entire region, it is vital that the investigations into the shooting death of Michael Brown move forward in a thorough, open and transparent manner to ensure that trust is restored and justice is done.” No arrest were made on Thursday night, according to Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol who also spoke at the press conference which was a welcomed relief from previous nights of police clashes with protestors in Ferguson.

While Nixon remains optimistic about the situation, Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia called on President Barack Obama to declare martial law in Ferguson, Missouri as police clashed with protestors after the killing of an unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last Saturday, Alex Lazar reports, Rep. John Lewis On Ferguson: ‘Declare Martial Law’. In a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Lewis said, “It is very sad and unbelievable. It’s unreal to see what the police is doing there. First of all, Ferguson, Missouri, is part of the United States of America. People have a right to protest. They have a right to dissent. They have a right to march in an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent fashion. And the press has a right to cover it.” Lewis, who marched in 1965 over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and suffered a fractured skull by police, told Mitchell the situation reminds him of “the ’40s, the ’50s, the ’60s,” pointing to the lack of black officers on the St. Louis suburb’s police force. Lewis added that President Obama “should use the authority of his office to declare martial law. Federalize the Missouri National Guard to protect people as they protest. And people should come together. Reasonable elected officials, community leaders and address what is happening there.” He ended by saying: “If we fail to act, the fires of frustration and discontent will continue to burn, not only in Ferguson, Missouri, but all across America.”