Tear gas fills Ferguson’s streets again as people protest officer-involved shooting

Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-13 22:52:06-04

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Tristan Smith


FERGUSON, Missouri (CNN) — Police fired tear gas at a crowd of protesters late Wednesday for another night, as they gathered to protest the deadly shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer.

Officers in riot gear then marched toward the protesters near a burned out a gas station, which has become the gathering point for demonstrations.

Police announced that they no longer considered the protest peaceful, before they fired the canisters, CNN producer Yon Pomrenze said. People fled in all directions, as the stinging clouds wafted by them.

A separate small group of over a dozen people gathered outside Ferguson’s police station holding up signs and chanting protests for a fifth day.

Officer not named

Police have said Brown died in a dangerous struggle after trying to grab the officer’s weapon, but witnesses say seemed a brazen act of aggression by the officer on Saturday, and that Brown was unarmed and not threatening.

On Wednesday, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson told CNN that the officer had been hit and suffered swelling on the side of his face. He was taken to a hospital and released the same day, Jackson said.

Five days have passed since Brown’s killing, and the public still does not know the name of the person who pulled the trigger.

There have been cries of a cover-up.

“That doesn’t give the community confidence. That doesn’t make it transparent,” attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters. “And remember, we’ve got a long way to go before this community starts to believe that the police are going to give them all the answers and not try to sweep it under the rug.”

Crump was one of the attorneys who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager who was killed in a 2012 altercation with Florida man George Zimmerman.

But Mayor James W. Knowles said police have received death threats against the officer and his family. They want to prevent further violence, he said.

Hackers have gone after his personal information and worked people up against members of government and the police, he said.

Someone claiming to be part of the shadowy Internet organization Anonymous also posted a video to YouTube on Tuesday promising to hack city websites and release information on Ferguson police unless the identity of the officer involved was released.

Trouble at night gatherings

Police have asked protesters to restrict their gatherings to daylight hours.

“Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours,” the department said.

Later, the police chief added: “We understand the anger; we understand that people want answers. We understand that we’ve got a problem, but we’re just asking people to be peaceful.”

The Ferguson-Florissant School District announced that it was pushing back the start of classes this year. School had been scheduled to resume Thursday.

“The decision has been made to cancel school on Thursday, August 14 and on Friday, August 15, in response to concerns expressed by many about continuing unrest in our community,” the district said in a statement.

Protests on Sunday and Monday ended with clashes with police and looting . Police have made 47 arrests after Brown’s shooting, KMOV reported.

Civil rights

As federal civil rights investigators and the FBI carry out their own inquiry into the controversial case, tensions are running high in the town of 21,000, where there’s a history of distrust between the predominantly black community and the largely white police force.

“Race relations is a top priority right now and, as I said, I’m working with the Department of Justice to improve that,” Jackson told reporters Wednesday, adding that he has tried to increase the diversity of the department since he got there.

Only three of the city’s 53 officers are African-American.

Dorian Johnson, who said he saw the shooting, told CNN on Tuesday that the officer who opened fire is white.

‘Full, fair, complete and impartial investigation’

Alongside the federal investigation into any potential violation of the civil rights law, the St. Louis County Police Department and the county prosecutor’s office will conduct a parallel investigation into whether any state laws were broken.

“We are still in the information gathering part of the investigation,” St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said Wednesday. “There is so much information out there — some of it good, some of it bad.”

He urged anyone with information about the shooting to step forward and promised to go wherever the investigation leads.

“We will do a full, fair, complete and impartial investigation into this. Nothing will be left untouched,” McCulloch said.

College-bound teen sought a better life

Brown was going to defy negative stereotypes, staying away from the street life that plagued many African-American young men by instead going to college, his mother said.

“People may do things and it becomes repetitive in a certain race, but we didn’t. We don’t live like that. Not our family,” his mother, Lesley McSpadden, told CNN.

“We feel like we can do anything and go anywhere. … Just because my son is a 6-foot-4-inch black male walking down a city street does not mean he fit the profile for anything other than just walking down the street.”

CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet wrote in Atlanta, and Tristan Smith reported from Ferguson. CNN’s Julian Cummings, Ben Brumfield, Michael Pearson, Don Lemon, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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