Ferguson protests: Time and rain cool tempers; hunt on for shooting suspects

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Calm prevails in Ferguson after shooting of police officers.

Two officers who were shot and wounded during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, had been the victims of an “ambush”, police said today – as they vowed to track down those responsible.FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Protesters called for calm but vowed to keep pushing for change in Ferguson a day after the shooting of two officers in front of the city’s police department heightened tensions in the St.

Law–enforcement officers search for evidence in a neighborhood of Ferguson, Mo., where the gunshots that wounded two police officers Wednesday night were believed to have been fired. An intense manhunt is under way for a suspect or suspects in the shootings of the officers, who have been treated and released from hospital, St Louis County police said. News video footage showed officers on top of a house, seemingly trying to break through the roof. “People have been taken in for questioning,” police spokesman, Sergeant Brian Schellman, said, adding: “No arrests at this point.” Protesters who gathered outside the city’s police headquarters late on Wednesday evening were beginning to disperse when shots rang out and the two officers were hit, one in the shoulder and the other in the face.

They prayed for the officers and for peace as the city moves forward in the wake of a Justice Department report alleging racial bias in its law-enforcement practices. Great efforts have been made to reduce tensions since the fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer last August.

Protestors took to the streets following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson – who was the third city official to resign this week – to show that they were not satisfied and demanded more changes. The report said the department operated a “toxic” system of apprehending members of Ferguson’s mostly black citizenry for minor misdemeanours as often as possible to boost the city’s coffers. Eric Holder, the Attorney General, denounced the shooting as “repugnant” and Barack Obama also responded. “Violence against people is unacceptable,” said a message on the White House Twitter feed. “Our prayers are with the officers in MO [Missouri].

They also recalled the December killing of two police offices in New York by a lone assailant who was seemingly fixated on avenging police killings of African-Americans. According to an initial investigation, the bullets that struck the officers came from 120 yards beyond the protest itself and were fired by a handgun.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson, whose force had been castigated by Justice Department investigators for unfairly targeting black residents, had agreed to step down. Confidence among Ferguson’s majority black population in the white-run city administration and police force was already minimal well before the Brown tragedy. Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Mr Brown’s parents, said the family condemned the shootings and insisted a small number of people were responsible for any violence. His departure had been a key demand of the protest movement that sprang up last summer, after a white Ferguson officer shot and killed an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown. The Ferguson protest started peacefully on Wednesday soon after Mr Jackson said he was stepping down, but about two dozen officers in riot gear later faced off with demonstrators and at least two people were taken into custody.

But after midnight, somebody opened fire from a hilltop, shooting out of the darkness over a small crowd of protesters and into a line of officers outside the Ferguson Police Department. Police scrambled, with many taking defensive positions with weapons drawn and some huddling behind riot shields, according to a video published online. Holder Jr. said Thursday afternoon in Washington, as his department offered local officials its full range of investigative resources. “This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson.

This was a damn punk, a punk, who was trying to sow discord.” On Thursday, the shooting – along with the tense protests that preceded it – appeared to have deepened distrust between police and protesters here, after months of gradually diminished tensions. Direct intervention from Washington has momentous precedents: one thinks of the federal troops sent to ensure the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957, and of the University of Mississippi in 1962, and to protect the third voting rights march at Selma in 1965. Kevin Ahlbrand, president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, said that the protests late Wednesday were especially confrontational, with a vocal minority of demonstrators shouting abuse and racial epithets at officers. “I don’t understand it,” said Ahlbrand, who is a sergeant with the St.

Those condemning the attack included a lawyer for the family of Mr Brown. “There may be a few people who are misguided or confused, but in large part the majority of the protesters and the majority of Americans want justice,” Benjamin Crump told CNN. Why are they angrier now?” Protest leaders condemned the shooting and worried that it may trigger a more aggressive police crackdown. “Whoever did this last night put us all in danger,” the Rev.

And it wasn’t intended to derail us from the path that we’re on right now.” On Thursday, President Obama tried to soothe tensions via Twitter: “Violence against police is unacceptable. Thursday’s shooting quickly revived a bitter debate about American policing, which began with Brown’s killing, and the hyper-militarized response of local police to Ferguson protesters. Since then, public anger has erupted repeatedly at police violence – over the killing of a 12-year-old in Cleveland and an unarmed man in Madison, Wis., and after a New York police officer was not indicted for the choking death of an unarmed man in Staten Island.

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