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Again — Rage against police for civilian killing

Christian Finkbeiner | 8/18/2014, 12:23 p.m.
People in the small predominantly black city near St. Louis began rioting and looting after the Saturday shooting death of ...
Lesley McSpadden weeps over the police killing of her son, Michael Brown Jr., in Ferguson, Mo. His death has sparked protests and riots in the community outside St. Louis.

Once again, a city has erupted in violence after the death of a person of color at the hands of police.

This time, it’s Ferguson, Mo.

People in the small predominantly black city near St. Louis began rioting and looting after the Saturday shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.

Michael Brown Jr.

Michael Brown Jr.

The rage was triggered by witnesses’ claims that a Ferguson police officer shot the unarmed Mr. Brown in the back, then shot him several more times after he turned around and attempted to surrender.

More than 50 people have been arrested since the rioting began.

Early Wednesday morning, St. Louis County police responded to reports of four or five men wearing ski masks and wielding shotguns at the site of protests over the Brown shooting.

They encountered multiple suspects running, one of whom pulled a gun on an officer and was shot.The injured man was taken to a local hospital.

Mr. Brown’s family and friends and supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, have appealed for an end to the violence.

“I need all of us to come together and do this right, the right way,” said Mr. Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., said at a church gathering.“No violence.”

Rev. Sharpton reiterated the call for peaceful protest.

“To become violent in Michael Brown’s name is to betray the gentle giant that he was,” the civil rights activist said.

The case evoked memories of other police shootings and confrontations with civilians that have generated national controversy, from the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles in 1991 to the killing of a Los Angeles man that inspired the movie “Fruitvale Station.”

In this case, the only thing that witnesses and police agree on is that the officer ordered Mr. Brown and a friend, Dorian Johnson, to move off the street and onto the sidewalk as they walked to visit Mr. Brown’s grandmother.

Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, which is conducting the investigation, has publicly claimed Mr. Brown scuffled with the officer and tried to take his gun.

However, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brown’s family dispute these claims and allege the officer opened fire when Mr. Brown was not a threat. The officer’s name has not been disclosed, and no official report has been released.

Mr. Johnson alleges that the officer opened his car door “aggressively” after the two men questioned his order to move off the street. According to Mr. Johnson’s account, the officer grabbed Mr. Brown and pointed his gun at him, threatening to shoot.

Mr. Brown freed himself from the officer, Mr. Johnson said, and was moving away when the officer shot him in the back. Mr. Brown then turned and held his hands in the air, telling the officer to stop shooting, Mr. Johnson said, but the officer then shot Mr. Brown several more times.

Ferguson police cars do not have dashboard cameras so there is no recording of the incident.

Tensions have been high in Ferguson with residents reporting that officers harass them and treat them disrespectfully.