Ferguson keeps calm night after shooting of police officers
6 Q’s About the News | ‘Ambush’ Seen in Shooting of 2 Police Officers in Ferguson.
FERGUSON, Mo. (Reuters) – The shooting of two police officers at a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered a sweeping manhunt for suspects on Thursday and ratcheted up tensions in a city at the centre of a national debate over race and policing. In “2 Police Officers Shot in Ferguson ‘Ambush’ Are Released From Hospital,” John Eligon and Richard Pérez-Peña report on more violence in Ferguson, Mo. The most powerful image in Ferguson on Thursday night was not the handful of protestors, surrounded by twice as many camera crews, in the parking lot opposite Ferguson Police station.
Louis County Police Department, was denounced by all sides in the continuing conflict over law enforcement here after the death, at the hands of the police, of an unarmed black teenager last summer, and the police crackdown on the ensuing protests. President Barack Obama condemned the attack on the officers, who were released from a hospital after being treated for wounds, and Attorney General Eric Holder called it a “pure ambush.” The pair were hit by gunfire outside police headquarters in the St. Police SWAT units surrounded a house a few blocks from the scene of the shooting, and officers climbed onto the roof and broke through a vent to gain access.
Ferguson, in recent months, has been one of the hot spots for the long-standing US problem of harsh treatment of young black men by mainly white police. They also prayed for peace as Ferguson moves forward in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report on racial bias in its law-enforcement practices.
The three, Iresha Turner, who lives at the home, and her friends Martez Little and Lamont Underwood, said they had attended the protest but had nothing to do with the shootings. A larger crowd of about 200 protesters gathered later outside the police department, but the scene was a marked contrast to the previous night, when fights broke out before the shootings. While condemning the wounding of the officers, organizers vowed more protests Thursday night, as well as a candle-light prayer vigil for peace which was attended by about 40 people a short distance up the road from the police station. “We deplore all forms of violence,” said Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, who was in the crowd when shots rang out. “But we also deplore the findings of the Department of Justice report and the suffering and the misery that this community has endured.” To prevent further bloodshed, officials said St.
Others were there to remember 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting death by a Ferguson police officer in August made the city a national focal point. “We’ll not be derailed in the pursuit of justice by anybody or anything that wants to get in our way,” said the Rev. Witness Markus Roehrer told CNN that the atmosphere at the protest was tense and that when he first heard the gunfire he thought it might be firecrackers. The shootings came at a vulnerable time, just as the city was making “good-faith steps,” as Holder put it, toward restoring faith in its criminal justice system. In a statement, the city of Ferguson said it was “diligently working to make systematic changes necessary to instill confidence,” but added, “We cannot continue to move forward under threats of violence and destruction.” When the shots echoed through the crisp air, striking the two officers, demonstrators and police officers hit the ground. Belmar said the shooter had used a handgun and that shell casings were recovered, and he said the bullets came from the middle of the crowd of protesters.
Witnesses among the demonstrators denied any link to the shootings, saying that they believed the shots originated from the top of a hill about 220 yards directly opposite the station. The Justice Department last Wednesday said it lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute officer Wilson on federal civil rights charges over the August 9 death of 18-year-old Brown after an altercation on a quiet residential street. Wednesday night’s rally came just hours after the resignation was announced of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, a long-held demand of the demonstrators.
Other Ferguson officials to resign have included Ferguson’s municipal court judge, two long-time police commanders — including Wilson’s supervisor — and, on Tuesday, its city manager. The harassment created a “toxic environment,” the report said. (Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, and Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Writing by Frank McGurty and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bernadette Baum, James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker) But with a line of roughly 20 officers standing in front of the building, the shooter did not have to be particularly accurate to hit two of them, Belmar said. Wilson, no longer with the overwhelmingly white Ferguson police force, said he shot Brown after the youth — a suspect in a corner-store shoplifting — tried to grab hold of his firearm.
We ask our residents and clergy in this area to partner with us as we make our way through this process.” The calls for healing and reconciliation weren’t received favorably by all.
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