WORLD-More forces for Ferguson
FERGUSON –– Aiming to head off more looting and rioting, Missouri’s governor today ordered National Guard reinforcements into the St Louis suburb of Ferguson following overnight violence ignited by the clearing of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot to death by officer Darren Wilson in August, condemned the grand jury process that led to yesterday’s decision not to bring criminal charges against the officer.
About a dozen buildings in Ferguson burned overnight and 61 people, mostly from the St Louis area, were arrested for crimes including burglary, illegal weapons possession and unlawful assembly, police said today. Shops were looted during the unrest.
The case underscores the sometimes tense nature of race relations in the United States. The St Louis County grand jury’s decision also led to protests in other major American cities. The people who took to the streets in Ferguson seemed to disregard calls for restraint issued by President Barack Obama and others.
Police fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters at protesters last night. Police said protesters fired guns at them, lit patrol cars on fire and hurled bricks into their lines.
Brown family lawyers Benjamin Crump and Anthony Gray said in a news conference the process had been unfair because the prosecutor in the case had a conflict of interest and Wilson was not properly cross-examined. They said a special prosecutor should have been appointed.
“This process is broken. The process should be indicted,” Crump said.
Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon said he was meeting with law enforcement and bolstering the National Guard deployment to ensure that people and property were protected in the days ahead.
“Violence like we saw last night cannot be repeated,” Nixon said on his Twitter feed. His office said “the Guard is providing security at the Ferguson Police Department, which will allow additional law enforcement officers to protect the public”.