Latest on Ferguson: Protest Outside Police Station Disbands
Police, activists try to tamp down tensions in Ferguson.
FERGUSON — With measured remarks and a conciliatory tone, police, political leaders and civil-rights activists today (March 13, morning, Singapore time) sought to tamp down tensions after two police officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department during a protest. The officers were quickly released from the hospital, but St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said they could have easily been killed and called the attack “an ambush”.
Several people were taken in for questioning after a SWAT team converged on a Ferguson home near the shooting site, but they were later released, and no arrests were made. The attack also seemed to create another layer of race-related mistrust after a week in which an unarmed young black man was killed by a white officer in Madison, Wisconsin, and a University of Oklahoma fraternity chapter was thrown off campus after a video surfaced showing members singing a racist chant.
The shots were fired early Thursday just as a small crowd of protesters began to break up after a demonstration that unfolded hours after the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. In Washington, President Barack Obama took to Twitter to relay his prayers to the officers and to denounce violence against police. “Path to justice is one all of us must travel together,” Mr Obama wrote, signing the tweet with his initials to indicate the president personally composed it. Tensions have been high in Ferguson since August and escalated in November after a grand jury declined to prosecute officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s killing. Louis community activist, said the shooting was conducted by outside agitators who are intent on hijacking attention from peaceful, reform-minded protesters.
In a statement, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and the city council said that though they respect the right to protest peacefully, “we cannot continue to move forward under threats of violence and destruction to our community. We ask our residents and clergy in this area to partner with us as we make our way through this process.” Mr Belmar said he reached out to civil-rights leaders, asking them to urge peace.
He treaded lightly in response to questions about how police will prepare for other potential demonstrations, saying he would seek officers from other departments. Though the crowd was small compared with some earlier protests, with fewer than 200, Ferguson officers were concerned enough to ask officers from neighbouring towns to assist.
A lot of people out here tonight we haven’t seen before.” “All of sudden gun shots came through and everybody just started running,” she said. “It seemed like they were just trying to shoot any police officer.
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