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A Publication
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Case Ferguson : US Flares Up In Protest

By Countercurrents.org 

25 November, 2014

From coast to coast, protests and demonstrations flared up protesting the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer Darren Wilson, who killed Mike Brown, an unarmed 18-year black boy in Ferguson , Missouri , USA . Thousands of people rallied late Monday in US cities. Most of the protests were peaceful, but passionate. Dozens of arrests have been made. In areas in the country, chaos filled streets. Gunshots were heard on the Ferguson streets and fires raged.

Mike Brown's mother has urged Ferguson protesters to remain peaceful.

According to the jury decision the police officer Darren won't face criminal charges for killing Michael Brown, the black boy. The decision by the grand jury of nine whites and three blacks was announced Monday night by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world.

After the decision was announced, thousands of protesting people joined in marches across the US, waved signs and shouted chants of "hands up, don't shoot," the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the US.

Orderly protests were organized in cities across the US including New York , Los Angeles , Seattle , Philadelphia and Chicago , where about 200 mostly young and mostly white protesters gathered at police headquarters, despite frigid temperatures and light snow.

The killing, on a residential street in Ferguson, set off weeks of civil unrest — and a national debate — fueled by protesters' outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men.

Even before the decision was announced, National Guard troops were dispatched to a police command post in Ferguson ; schools were kept closed for the week.

An AP report quoted Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia , where hundreds marched downtown with a contingent of police nearby: "Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point. How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?"

In Ferguson , demonstrators vandalized police cars and buildings, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives Monday night while police fired smoke canisters and tear gas.

The AP report said:

“The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland , California , where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

“As the night wore on, dozens of protesters in Oakland got around police and blocked traffic on Interstate 580. Officers in cars and on motorcycles were able to corral the protesters and cleared the highway in one area, but another group soon entered the traffic lanes a short distance away. Police didn't immediately report any arrests.

“A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St. Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down Interstate 44 for a time. A few cars got stuck in the midst of the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted ‘hands up, don't shoot' and ‘black lives matter'.

‘There's clearly a license for violence against minorities, specifically blacks,' said Mike Arnold, 38, a teacher. ‘It happens all the time. Something's got to be done about it. Hopefully this will be a turning point.'

“In Seattle , marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic before moving on, as dozens of police officers watched.

“Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Washington, D.C., where people held up signs and chanted ‘justice for Michael Brown' outside the White House.

“In New York , the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem lamenting the grand jury's decision. Later, several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan 's Union Square marched peacefully to Times Square .

“In Los Angeles , which was rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park , and a group of religious leaders held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A group of about 200 demonstrators marched toward downtown.

“The marchers shut down the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 110 in downtown Los Angeles late Monday night, according to City News Service. People stood and lay in the northbound lanes and the center divider.

Another splinter group of about 30 people marched all the way to Beverly Hills , where they lay down in an intersection.

“Chris Manor, with Utah Against Police Brutality, helped organize an event in Salt Lake City .

“At Cleveland's Public Square, protesters' signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday's fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

“In Denver , where a civil jury last month found deputies used excessive force in the death of a homeless street preacher, clergy gathered at a church to discuss the decision, and dozens of people rallied in a downtown park with a moment of silence.”

The New York Times said in a report:

“At the outside the Ferguson Police Department, demonstrators chanted and threw signs and other objects toward the police officers as the news spread. ‘The system failed us again,' one woman said. In downtown Ferguson , the sound of breaking glass could be heard as crowds ran through the streets.”

The report by Monica Davey and Julie Bosman said:

“As the night went on, the situation grew more intense and chaotic in several locations around the region. Bottles and rocks were thrown at officers, and windows of businesses were smashed. Several police cars were burned; buildings, including a Walgreens, a meat market and a storage facility, were on fire, and looting was reported in several businesses. Gunshots could be heard along the streets of Ferguson , and law enforcement authorities deployed smoke and gas to control the crowds.”

It added:

“Before midnight , St. Louis County police officers reported heavy automatic gunfire in the area where some of the largest protests were taking place. Flights to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport were not permitted to land late Monday as a safety precaution, officials said.”

The Clayton datelined report said:

“Mayor James Knowles III of Ferguson, reached on his cellphone late Monday, said he wanted to see National Guard troops, some of whom were stationed at a police command center, move to protect his city. ‘They're here in the area,' he said. ‘I don't know why they're not deploying.'

Just after 1 a.m. , Gov. Jay Nixon called up additional members of the National Guard to Ferguson , where they will provide security for the police headquarters.

“At a news conference around 1:30 a.m. , Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, said at least a dozen buildings had been set on fire.

‘As soon as Mr. McCulloch announced the verdict, the officers started taking rocks and batteries,' said Chief Belmar, who said he personally heard about 150 shots fired. He said the police did not fire a shot.

“He added that 29 people were arrested.

‘I didn't foresee an evening like this,' Chief Belmar said. The night's damage had been far worse than any of the nights of unrest that had followed the shooting in August, he said.”

The report said:

“Mr. Brown's family issued a statement expressing sadness, but calling for peaceful protest and a campaign to require body cameras on police officers nationwide. ‘We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions,' the statement said. ‘While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.'

“But outside the police station, Lesley McSpadden, Mr. Brown's mother, voiced frustration with the decision. ‘They wrong!' she yelled, pointing toward the police officers standing outside of the station. ‘Y'all know y'all wrong!'”

Fighting a police organization

The New York Times in another report headlined “From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over” said:

“Months of anger and frustration, in the end, led only to more anger and frustration.

“Shops were looted and burned on Ferguson 's main street. There were smoke bombs, tear gas, thrown rocks and random gunshots. In Ferguson , the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown was almost as bitter and hollow as his killing itself.”

The Ferguson datelined report by John Eligon and Manny Fernandez said:

“Brien Redmon, 31, stood in the cold watching a burning police car and sporadic looting after the announcement that there would be no indictments for Mr. Brown's death at 18.

“‘This is not about vandalizing,' he said. ‘This is about fighting a police organization that doesn't care about the lives they serve.'

“Thomas Perry, 30, was equally bitter. ‘I support my people who are out there doing it,' he said. ‘For years they've been taking from us. We don't care.'”

The report quoted officials, who said: Firefighters and police officers had been shot at during the evening.

Obama's unusual late-night appearance

At the White House, president Obama appealed for peaceful protest and “care and restraint” from law enforcement. “We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades,” Obama said in the briefing room, where he made an unusual late-night appearance to respond to the decision.








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