TIME Crime

Ferguson Erupts Again After Cop Cleared in Killing

Peaceful protests gave way to violence in the St. Louis suburb after the grand jury didn't charge Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown

The calls, overwhelmingly, were for peace. But the result was anything but.

A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, after an encounter in the St. Louis suburb on Aug. 9. The decision, announced Monday evening, means Wilson will not face criminal charges in a case that ignited a national debate about race, privilege and policing in America.

The announcement immediately revived the frustration of protesters who filled the streets of Ferguson for weeks this summer, leading to a renewed wave of clashes with riot gear-clad police. As the news spread, demonstrators blocked the street in front of the Ferguson Police Department, chanting obscenities and throwing objects at officers.

As the night wore on, the demonstrations erupted into violence. In an echo of the worst of the earlier unrest, businesses were set on fire and looted and law enforcement fired smoke bombs and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the angry crowds. The sting from the chemical hung in the air for blocks, and the sidewalks and parking lots near the Ferguson Police Department were filled with people washing out burning eyes and vomiting in gutters.

It was precisely the response many feared but never wanted. The days leading up to the decision were a drumbeat of pleas for peace, with clergy, local residents and even President Obama urging crowds to channel their anger into something more productive. The Brown family echoed those calls in a statement after the decision. “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.”

Protests spread to cities across the U.S. late Monday, with thousands rallying in cities from New York to Los Angeles. Demonstrators in Oakland, Calif. flowed onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 580, temporarily blocking traffic, but the majority of protests outside of the St. Louis area remained mostly peaceful.

Speaking from the White House about an hour after Wilson’s fate was made public, the President said he hoped the incident could force the nation to address the larger sense of mistrust between African-Americans and police.

“We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to the broader challenges we still face as a nation,” he said. “In too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.”

Obama, too, called for a peaceful response, yet as he spoke television news networks aired split-screen footage of police deploying tear gas and smoke grenades at demonstrators.

The President’s wishes went unheeded, at least in the immediate aftermath. That the grand jury’s decision was revealed after dark surely didn’t help.

In a lengthy news conference announcing the grand jury’s decision, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch painstakingly described the events leading up to Brown’s death. The grand jury, he said, heard contradictory testimony from eyewitnesses, some of whom changed their stories to reflect the evidence. He later released thousands of pages of documents reviewed by the grand jury including photos of Wilson taken at a hospital after the shooting that appear to show bruising to his neck and face.

“As tragic as this is, it was a not a crime,” McCulloch said.

Preparing for the Worst

Even before the decision was announced, police had gone to great lengths to prepare for protestors’ frustration to spill over. City, county and state officers, as well as National Guard, were marshaled under a unified command as part of a state of emergency that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon imposed in advance on Nov. 17, citing “the possibility of expanded unrest.” The atmosphere has been so charged that many area schools closed early for Thanksgiving break and Nixon reiterated his call for calm on Monday ahead of the grand jury’s announcement.

The preparations on both sides fed a sense that the first official finding in Brown’s death would inevitably generate another occasion for talking past one another, and perhaps more violence. Far from being resolved, the mistrust that marked the largely spontaneous original protests — characterized by raised arms and chants of “Don’t shoot” — had not abated. Nor had the reality that propelled Ferguson onto the national stage: the unwelcome attention African Americans routinely receive from police, and disproportionate treatment from the justice system as a whole.

In that realm, the details of the Brown case are less significant than the broader experience of many black Americans any time they encounter a uniformed officer. Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in September that, though he served as the nation’s top law-enforcement official, as an African-American man who has been searched unnecessarily by police, “I also carry with me the mistrust that some citizens harbor for those who wear the badge.”

In Ferguson, where the population is two-thirds black, the situation was exacerbated by the composition of a police department that had only four African Americans on a force of 53. When protests broke out, the heavy-duty military gear officers donned to confront them did nothing to diminish the impression of antagonism between police and public. Much of that armor was left over from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and distributed by the Pentagon to local law-enforcement departments. The battle gear did little to serve a police force that, like many in the U.S., is seen by minorities “as trying to dominate rather than serve and protect,” in the phrase of Yale Law School Professor Tom Tyler, an expert on law enforcement and public trust.

“This is more than Michael Brown,” area resident Rick Canamore, 50, said as he protested in front of the Ferguson police headquarters. Brown’s death “tipped the pot over, but this has been boiling for years.”

Two federal investigations are still pending. The FBI is investigating whether Wilson violated Brown’s civil rights. Separately, the Justice Department is examining the civil rights record of the Ferguson Police Department as a whole. And Brown’s family could still file a civil wrongful-death lawsuit.

After the decision, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated that the federal civil rights investigation is distinct from the grand jury proceedings. “Though we have shared information with local prosecutors during the course of our investigation, the federal inquiry has been independent of the local one from the start, and remains so now,” Holder said in a statement. “Even at this mature stage of the investigation, we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence. And although federal civil rights law imposes a high legal bar in these types of cases, we have resisted forming premature conclusions.”

An Unusual Grand Jury Proceeding

But the fraught months following Brown’s death have been focused on the grand jury’s finding, which was both expected and atypical. Expected because a series of leaks in October revealed details that supported Wilson’s version of the encounter. These include medical reports of injuries to Wilson’s face, which officials have said occurred when Brown reached into the patrol vehicle and struck Wilson. Two shots were fired inside the vehicle, but Brown was killed after Wilson climbed out of the vehicle to pursue the 6-ft. 4-in., 289-lb. teen.

Though the leaks and a certain sense of fatalism had prepared protesters for the outcome, the grand jury’s finding is statistically rare. Ordinarily, almost every case that a prosecutor takes to a grand jury ends in indictment. At the federal level, of 42,140 grand jury investigations in 2012, only 56 targets escaped indictment, according to records provided to TIME by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. Similar figures were not available for St. Louis County grand jury investigations.

Local officials emphasized that the grand jury examining the Ferguson case had unusual leeway — though that leeway may have served Wilson. The panel, which had already been seated at the time of the Brown’s death, was broadly representative of St. Louis County, with nine whites and three African Americans. It met weekly for three months, and was presented “absolutely everything” about the altercation, said St. Louis County chief prosecuting attorney Robert P. McCulloch. The jury, which began hearing testimony on Aug. 20, reached its decision after two days of deliberations.

That meant it heard from witnesses who said Brown appeared to have had his arms up in surrender at the moment he was shot, as well as from witnesses who supported Wilson’s account that the teen attacked him, and was charging at him head-down at the time of the shooting. One of Brown’s six bullet wounds was on the top of his head.

In another departure from normal proceedings, the grand jurors did not hear a prosecutor recommend a charge and present evidence supporting it. Instead, they were offered a range of possible charges, from murder to involuntary manslaughter.

In addition, Wilson took the unusual step of testifying, which seldom happens because defense attorneys are not allowed to be present in grand-jury proceedings. But it may well have helped the officer, inasmuch as the question before jurors was whether he had reason to fear for his life.

In short, the grand jury’s inquiry proceeded very much like a trial — but in secret, as grand jury proceedings always are. That sat poorly with attorneys representing Brown’s family. The prosecutor’s office took the unusual step of recording the sessions, and released them after the decision in hopes of achieving a measure of transparency after the fact.

That might not have been possible. “If there’s no true bill,” Adolphus Pruitt of the St. Louis NAACP told TIME in September, “as a community, we are going to be thrust right back into the same discontent and civil disobedience we experienced the first time around.”

Similar vows were heard from a variety of groups that descended on Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision. The community remained on edge despite town meetings moderated by national figures, efforts at police reform such as wearable cameras, and sometimes fumbling attempts at reconciliation by local officials. In late September, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson apologized for leaving Brown’s body in the street for about four hours – infuriating bystanders who saw it as yet another sign of disrespect. The chief’s apology was offered to Brown’s parents, but delivered in a video aired on CNN, and distributed by a public-relations firm. Another grievance came Monday afternoon, when attorneys for the Brown family say the parents first learned that the grand jury had reached a decision when they were asked about it by a reporter.

New incidents, meanwhile, kept emotions raw. In Ferguson, where some police officers wore wrist bands reading “I am Darren Wilson,” an officer was shot in the arm while chasing two men who ran from him when he approached them on Sept. 27. And on Oct. 8, an 18-year-old African American was shot and killed by an off-duty St. Louis police officer after allegedly firing a stolen gun at him.

The protests that began the night Brown’s lifeless body fell onto Canfield Drive never really stopped. Mostly peaceful demonstrations continued day and night over the weekend before the grand-jury announcement, the rowdiness growing the later it got. A dozen people were arrested in a four-day period ending Sunday. The weather helped police, with cold and continuous rain causing protesters to disperse on several occasions, according to the St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman.

The ongoing protests have cast a pall over virtually every corner of the community. Area businesses report sales down as much as 80%. That many decided to board their windows as a preventative measure ahead of the grand-jury decision kept even more shoppers away. Donations to local religious groups and nonprofit organizations have been sluggish. A local food pantry’s stock is low because “people don’t want to come into the area,” says Jason Bryant, a local pastor.

For many local residents eager to see Brown’s death lead to something positive, the fallout from the grand jury’s decision will only make matters worse. “Police have hurt our people for years, for decades,” says Cassidy Jones, 42. “But this is not the answer. This is anger making more anger. It’s not good.”

— Kristina Sauerwein reported from Ferguson, Mo. With additional reporting by Alex Altman and Zeke J. Miller / Washington, D.C.; Dan Kedmey / New York City; and Katy Steinmetz/San Francisco

Read next: Ferguson Is the Wrong Tragedy to Wake America Up

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TIME Crime

Ferguson Braces for the Worst Ahead of Grand Jury Decision

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon talks during a press conference at the Missouri Highway Patrol Headquarters in Weldon Springs on Nov. 11th, 2014.
Bryan Sutter—Demotix/Corbis At a Nov. 11 press conference, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said the National Guard could again be deployed to deal with violence in Ferguson.

'You can literally see the fear in people’s eyes,' says one area gun shop owner

Here in Ferguson, you can measure the dread in sales figures. At the Original Reds BBQ on West Florissant Avenue, where the wafting aroma of rib tips and catfish fillet used to draw looping lines, the chairs stayed stacked on tables on a recent Friday at lunchtime. Boarded windows darkened the near-empty restaurant, which is now open only three days a week. “Why replace any of it if it’s just going to get broken again?” shrugs Al Bee, the 44-year-old head cook. “Business is bad, very bad.”

A few miles away, at the Metro Shooting Supplies gun shop in Bridgeton, the sense of threat has driven record sales, including more than 100 handguns and other weapons sold over a three-day stretch ending last Sunday. Shooting lessons are booked through 2015. “You can literally see the fear in people’s eyes,” says owner Steve King. “People are anticipating far worse than last time.”

Throughout the St. Louis area, citizens fear the riots that engulfed the city over the summer are about to return. A grand jury deliberating whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown is expected to come to a decision this month, perhaps as soon as late this week. And amid a steady drip of leaks that appear to corroborate Wilson‘s account of the encounter, protesters are readying for the possibility that the officer won’t be indicted on murder or manslaughter charges.

As a result, local law enforcement, politicians and protesters alike are bracing for the specter of another wave of unrest in a city that was filled with tear gas in the turbulent nights after Brown, an unarmed African-American 18-year-old, was shot to death on Canfield Drive by Wilson, a white police officer. The subsequent protests and law enforcement’s response to them stoked a national debate about race, representation and policing in America.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, announced Tuesday a chain of authority to maintain order in the wake of the grand jury announcement. “Violence will not be tolerated,” Nixon said. Police and government officials have met daily with each other and protest leaders to plan. More than 1,000 area law enforcement officers have received more than 5,000 hours of additional training. And once again, the Missouri National Guard will be at the ready if needed. “There’s a large sense of anxiety out there,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said.

St. Louis-area law enforcement agencies are replenishing and ramping up supplies of weapons and riot gear. “No one wants to use them, but it would be irresponsible if we didn’t prepare,” said Sgt. Brian Schellman, spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police Department. The county police have spent more than $100,000 since August on riot gear, tear gas, smoke bombs and so-called non-lethal ammunition such as rubber bullets and beanbag rounds.

School districts across the region have formally asked St. Louis officials to schedule the grand jury announcement during the weekend or after school hours to protect student safety. Administrators have also mailed letters outlining emergency procedures. “The students are definitely aware of the situation in the community,” says Emily Kuehl, a middle school teacher in Ferguson.

The sometimes violent demonstrations in August have continued to affect virtually every corner of the community. Religious groups and nonprofit organizations are dealing with sluggish charitable donations and fewer civic programs because of “fear of riots,” says Ferguson Public Library Director Scott Bonner. The library lost an educational program in which honor high-school students from affluent nearby communities would tutor Ferguson kids. Donations to food pantries have dwindled because “people don’t want to come into the area,” says Jason Bryant, 32, a father of two and a pastor who has lived in Ferguson for a decade. Bryant says he had to put his home renovation on hold because his contractors won’t show up to work. They say it’s “too dangerous.”

Shannon Kozeny, a 41-year-old single mom who lives in Kirkwood, an affluent suburb about 20 miles from Ferguson, says she recently bought a gun to protect her young daughter. “You don’t have to live in Ferguson to feel threatened,” she explains. “God forbid anything happens, I have a little girl to protect. If it comes down to life and death between my kid and somebody else, somebody who’s bigger than us, and angrier, I will stop it.”

Even peaceful protesters are bracing for violence. Last week, a coalition of 50 activist groups requested advance notice of the grand jury decision to quell the anger they say it may unleash.

On West Florissant Avenue, the shopping strip that was the center of the unrest in August, business owners say they fear for their lives as well as their livelihoods. “I’m scared,” says Rokhaya Biteye, 45, who owns a hair-braiding parlor on the Ferguson street. “I fear this time it will be more violent.”

Read next: Missouri Prepares for Ferguson Grand Jury Announcement

TIME Crime

Michael Brown Will Be Given Independent Autopsy, Attorney Says

Daryl Parks, an attorney for the family of Michael Brown, addresses the media during a press conference outside the police department on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Daryl Parks, an attorney for the family of Michael Brown, addresses the media during a press conference outside the police department on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown family's lawyer Anthony Gray tells TIME that noted forensic pathologist Michael Baden will examine remains of the teenager killed one week ago Saturday

An attorney for the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. one week ago, said Saturday that the family’s legal team had hired a well known forensic pathologist to conduct an independent autopsy of the teenager’s body.

Brown’s body is in the process of being prepared for Michael Baden, who has worked on such high-profile cases as John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and O.J. Simpson, and is the host of HBO’s Autopsy, said Anthony Gray, the St. Louis-based attorney for Brown’s family.

The undisclosed costs of the autopsy will be absorbed in overall legal fees, Gray said. “We want the facts so we can get justice for Michael Brown,” he told TIME. “The family deserves it.”

An autopsy carried out by the St Louis County Medical Examiner’s office the day after Brown’s death concluded that he died as a result of gunshot wounds. The office has not yet released the number of times he had been shot.

Gray also said Brown’s family is saddened by the looting of early Saturday morning, and considered it a dishonor to their son. “Imagine how they must feel,” Gray said. “There was yet another attack on their son while they are preparing for him to rest in peace.”

 

TIME Crime

Ferguson Protestors Mark a Week Since Brown Shooting

People hold hands in prayer on Aug. 16, 2014, at a convenience store that was burned after Michael Brown was shot by police a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.
Charlie Riedel—AP People hold hands in prayer on Aug. 16, 2014, at a convenience store that was burned after Michael Brown was shot by police a week ago in Ferguson, Mo.

"We are dedicated to calmness and peace," said vigil's organizer, after a night in which calm protests were marred by looting and disorder

One week after the shooting of an unarmed black man led to riots and tore open racial divides in Ferguson, Mo., about three dozen activists held a prayer vigil for the slain Michael Brown on Saturday.

Heads bowed in prayer, tears trickling down cheeks and hands symbolically held in the air, the activists in Ferguson prayed for peace and justice Saturday afternoon following the day’s predawn looting.

Activists promised a silent vigil for Mike Brown every Saturday at noon across the street from the Ferguson Police Department until justice is served, which, for those gathered, meant a murder conviction for Darren Wilson.

“We are dedicated to calmness and peace,” said co-organizer Beverly Logan, 58, who invited anyone–“black, white, blue…young or old”–to the vigil. She said she will rally peace seekers to form human chains around local businesses, if needed, to prevent vandalism and theft — as demonstrators reportedly did during unrest early Saturday morning.

“We will also knock on doors, if we must, and find the people who looted,” she said. “I will snatch the hair weave off of the person who stole it. They are not what Ferguson is about.”

Logan and some protesters wore T-shirts and carried signs showing a mocked-up TIME magazine cover of President Obama that read: “TIME for change.”

While some protesters have called on Obama to visit Ferguson, Logan said she wore the shirt “because it represented a joyous time,” she said. “I thought there would be more change by the American people about race, but we have a long way to go.”

The vigil follows a tumultuous week that exposed widespread mistrust of the police in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown. Looting and tense standoffs with police brought the town to its knees as heavily armed SWAT times imposed martial order on the town.

Police maintain that Brown struggled with his arresting officer last week before he was shot, while eyewitnesses said they saw Brown put his hands up in surrender shortly before he was repeatedly shot.

As people prayed, the sound of supportive honking car horns mixed with the melancholy notes of a trumpet playing, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” a patriotic hymn with deep roots in civil rights movements.

“God gave me a gift with the trumpet,” said Eugene Gillis, 56. The music signifies the “sweet beauty” and compassion of most people, Gillis said. “Most people are good and want peace.”

TIME Crime

Ferguson Erupts Again After Spell of Calm

Peaceful protests in the town gave way to fresh unrest after midnight, as bands of people began looting local stores

Updated, Aug.16, 3:55 a.m. ET

Tensions flared anew on the main thoroughfare of Ferguson, Mo. early Saturday morning, after hundreds of protestors gathered for a day of raucous yet peaceful protests to demand justice for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old whose fatal shooting at the hands of a local police officer kindled riots earlier in the week between angry residents and an aggressive police force.

Police tried in vain to disperse a crowd of protesters who refused to clear West Florissant Avenue shortly after midnight, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch. A lengthy standoff ensued. After protesters faced off with a line of police, small bands of people broke off from the crowd and looted a few stores along the street as other protesters sought to block them, the newspaper reported. Police held their line and cordoned off all entrances to the area by 2 a.m. as they repeatedly warned the crowd to go home or be subjected to arrest. A TIME reporter returning to the scene was prevented from accessing the area.

It was a marked departure from a few hours earlier. Until that point, it had been the second night in a row that the protests went off largely without incident. Under spitting rain, protestors gathered along the street toting signs, honking horns, playing music and shouting chants, mingling with uniformed police for stretches of the evening, a drastic departure from the clashes earlier this week.

The shift was spurred in large part by the appointment of a new officer in charge, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson. After scores of residents criticized the paramilitary approach of local police, Johnson has adopted a conciliatory tack, abandoning the heavy weaponry and circulating through the crowds to discuss protesters’ concerns.

Amid the rage vented this week at what demonstrators say is rampant police brutality and profiling, it was striking to see a cop become a beloved figure. But Johnson strolled through the crowd like an A-list celebrity on the red carpet, high-fiving young men and obliging requests for selfies. The captain said that he hopes to turn tensions of the past week into a national example of how police can restore trust with an African-American-American community that says it is targeted by Ferguson’s nearly all-white police force.

“Ferguson has an opportunity to help make positive changes for communities everywhere,” Johnson told TIME Friday.

Earlier in the day, fears rose that the Ferguson police department’s release of an incident report alleging Brown had been involved in a robbery prior to his shooting would rekindle the riots. But Brown’s family and attorneys pleaded for calm, and the crowd at first heeded the advice.

For much of the night, the demonstrations resembled an outdoor festival, with protesters drumming, dancing and singing as they sought shelter from the rain under a gas-pump overhang. Protesters ordered delivery pizza by the dozens, joined their kids as they scrawled on the sidewalk with colored chalk and organized booths for causes like voter registration.

Even celebrities materialized. Jesse Jackson held a vigil, and former NFL defensive back Demetrious Johnson, who grew up in inner-city St. Louis, chatted with local police. “I like the way it is going tonight, just like last night,” Johnson said. “Before, police were making the situation worse. They violated some [protesters’] civil rights and created chaos with their intimidation.” Johnson said he would be coordinating a clean-up at the gas station on Saturday with local high-school football players. “These kids want to be a part of something,” he said. “They want to make a difference.”

Like nights past, crowds spilled into the main street, dangling out of car windows with their hands in the air. Unlike most other nights, protesters smiled and laughed with each other–and for much of the evening, the police as well. But the late escalation was a reminder that this St. Louis suburb may be a powder keg for some time.

This story was updated to reflect events that occurred after it was published.

TIME Crime

Protests Build in Missouri Town Where Police Shot Unarmed Teen

TEAR GAS SHOT AT PROTESTORS
Robert Cohen—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT/Zuma Press A demonstrator throws back a tear gas container after tactical officers worked to break up a group of bystanders on Chambers Road near West Florissant in Ferguson on Aug. 13, 2014.

Pleas for calm go unheeded

Violent protests escalated early Wednesday in the St. Louis suburb where a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager last weekend, with two people shot despite pleas for calm from officials including President Barack Obama.

One man was critically wounded shortly after 1 a.m. by a St. Louis County Police officer following a night marked by loud, angry protests near the QuikTrip convenience store that was looted and burned following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. St. Louis County Police Officer Brian Schellman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that authorities received reports of shots fired in the area and armed men in ski masks, culminating in a man pulling a handgun on an officer, who then fired back. A handgun was recovered at the scene and police used tear gas. Also on Wednesday, just after midnight, a woman was apparently shot in the head in a drive-by shooting, also near the QuikTrip. But it’s unclear if the violence is related to the protests. The woman is expected to survive.

The shootings erupted after a tense night between protesters and police in full riot gear, guns sometimes drawn, as they stood in line barricading streets near the QuikTrip. At least three armed SWAT tanks were also on the scene.

The shooting death of Brown has had the town of Ferguson on edge for days, drawing national attention as some hold it up as an example of racial disparities in police action and the criminal justice system. Police have said Brown was killed in a struggle after he reached for an officer’s weapon, an account disputed by one of his friends and by his family.

Ferguson police also issued their first official statement since the shooting, saying Wednesday that they are “working to restore confidence in the safety of our community and our neighborhoods so that we may begin the healing process.”

“We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” the police department said.

Protests on Tuesday altered between calm and raucous, with protestors throwing bottles at police and sometimes refusing to disperse. In one instance, a man accelerated his car toward the police line, coming within about 30 ft. of authorities before turning around to both cheers and jeers from the crowd.

Throughout the night, crowds mobbed the busy street near the QuikTrip, with some walking sporadically in the street, obstructing traffic, while others peacefully marched on the sidewalk to the church where national civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton preached justice and peace during a town hall meeting.

From noon to midnight on Tuesday, the sound of car horns could be heard near the QuikTrip, with drivers honking in support of protesters yelling, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and brandishing signs that read “RIP Mike Brown.”

Obama called the shooting of Brown “heartbreaking” on Tuesday and called for calm.

“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said in a statement. “We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

Community members swept glass shards and bagged debris from the burned and looted QuikTrip on Tuesday. Several businesses that were vandalized reopened, including the Northland Chop Suey, where the inside smelled more like the plywood boarding windows than the crab ragoon customers love.

“It’s been slow,” said Boon Jamg, 60, “I’ve owned restaurants in the area for 35 years and I know people by name, many since they were kids. This is a good community. I love these people. I respect them. I am sad that some people disrespected me by vandalizing my business.”

He said the violence doesn’t represent Ferguson. “People are friendly,” Jamg said. “They care about this neighborhood. I’ve never had any problems until this week.”

TIME Crime

Police Won’t Name Officer Who Shot Unarmed Missouri Teen

Ferguson St. Louis Missouri Police Shooting Riots Protests
Scott Olson—Getty Images Riot police lock down a neighborhood in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 11, 2014.

Cite officer's safety in case that has sparked protests

Police said Tuesday that they won’t release the name of an officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager last week in a St. Louis suburb following threats to the officer’s life, a move that could further inflame protesters who have clashed with authorities while demanding the officer’s arrest.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Monday the officer’s name would be made public by noon Tuesday. But Officer Timothy Zoll said today that the department will indefinitely postpone the release the shooting officer’s name “for safety purposes.”

“A lot of threats against the officer were made on Twitter, Facebook, all social media,” Zoll said. “We are protecting the officer’s safety by not releasing the name.”

The St. Louis County Police Department, which has been a constant presence in the town since Saturday’s fatal shooting, is also keeping mum.

“We will not ever release the name of the police officer,” said Officer Brian Schellman. “We are investigating the incident, we are investigating the officer, but it is not for us to release the officer’s name. It is a personnel matter. It is up to Ferguson Police.”

The city of almost 21,000 just north of downtown St. Louis has been simmering since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in an encounter with police. Circumstances surrounding his death remain contested, but the case has been held up by protesters as an example of police brutality and inequities in the criminal justice system.

On Sunday, the protests boiled over into burning and looting of some local businesses. Monday’s protests were largely peaceful, though police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Brown’s family called for peace Monday night during an emotional news conference.

“I just wish I could have been there to help him,” said his mother, Lesley McSpadden.

Tensions remain high Tuesday morning, with more protests planned and dozens of law enforcement officers from across the region stationed in town.

TIME justice

Parents of Slain Missouri Teen Plead for Justice

Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself and his son during a news conference on August 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
Jeff Roberson—AP Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself and his son during a news conference on August 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.

"He was a good boy, he didn’t deserve none of this"

As the parents of an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by police in a St. Louis suburb publicly appealed for justice, the FBI opened a civil rights inquiry and Attorney General Eric Holder promised a “thorough, fair investigation” into the shooting that has erupted into a national debate.

“I just wish I could have been there to help him,” Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, said at a news conference in Ferguson, Mo. Monday. She broke down crying as she spoke, an enlarged photo of her firstborn in her hands.

“He was funny, silly, he could make you laugh.. He was a good boy, he didn’t deserve none of this,” his father, Mike Brown Sr., said. “We want justice for our son.”

The shooting has sparked outrage in Ferguson, a predominantly African-American city of some 21,000 people northwest of St. Louis. Sunday night protests led to violence, with several local businesses damaged in looting and unrest. Tempers continued to flare Monday, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds that gathered the site of a convenience store burned the night before, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier in the day, members of Brown’s family tried to dissuade protesters from turning to violence.

“Why would you burn your community?,” Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s grandfather, said. “Why? This should not be his legacy.”

Attorney Benjamin Crump said the family wants a full investigation into the death of the teenager, who was killed Saturday afternoon in an altercation with police. “I don’t want to sugar coat it, their baby was executed in broad daylight,” Crump said. “Our children deserve the dignity and respect of law enforcement when they’re walking down the street.”

Authorities said there was a struggle over an officer’s weapon, though witnesses have disputed that account. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Monday that an autopsy showed Brown had been struck by multiple gunshots. The location of the bullets has not been disclosed. Officials have said they will reveal the identity of the officer who shot Brown by Tuesday afternoon.

“These parents know in their heart, and they reject what the police department said how this played out,” Crump said.

Holder promised Monday that the incident would receive a “fulsome review,” with the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division working in conjunction with local officers. “The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities,” Holder said in a statement. “At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right.”

Brown’s shooting is the latest recent, high-profile incident of an African American dying at the hands of police. On Aug. 5, a 22-year-old holding a BB gun inside an Ohio Walmart was fatally shot by officers after allegedly failing to drop the weapon. Last month in New York City, Eric Garner died mid-arrest after allegedly being placed in a chokehold by police officers responding to a nuisance call. And the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012, continues to reverberate. Crump represented Martin’s relatives and said Monday that the teen’s father, Tracy Martin, reached out to Brown’s family.

Missouri lawmakers, meanwhile, called for a “transparent understanding” of the events that led to Brown’s death.

“As a mother, I grieve for this child and his family,” Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill said in a statement. “I pray that the wonderful, hardworking, and God-loving people of Ferguson will find peace and patience as we wait for the results of what will be numerous and thorough investigations of what happened.”

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said in a statement Brown’s recent graduation from high school “should have been a beginning of better things. Everyone deserves a transparent understanding of what happened here.”

— With reporting by Kristina Sauerwein / Ferguson, Mo.

TIME justice

FBI to Probe Police Shooting of Unarmed Missouri Teen

Demonstrators took to the streets of a St. Louis suburb Monday to protest the fatal shooting Saturday of an unarmed black teenager by police, as officials appealed for calm after a night of riots and the FBI said it would investigate the incident.

“Ferguson police show us no respect,” Chanel Ruffin, 25, said during the protest. “They harass black people all the time.”

“This is a terrible tragedy,” Ferguson, Mo., police chief Tom Jackson said Monday on CNN as protesters marched. “Nobody wanted this to happen but what we want to do is we want to heal. We want to build trust with the community and part of that is to have a transparent, open investigation, conducted by outside party.”

The protests Monday remained mostly peaceful, in contrast to the looting that took place Sunday night. A spokesman for the family of the teenager, Michael Brown, told media outlets his family wants “justice.” A list of demands being circulated among protestors Monday was much broader, calling for, among other things, a more diverse police force and that the officer who shot Brown be identified, fired and charged with murder. In a sign of the growing national attention focused on the small town, the hacking group Anonymous hacked Ferguson’s website on Sunday night.

Jackson said he understood the concerns of demonstrators and that a full, independent probe would help the community move forward. The FBI informed Jackson on Monday that it will investigate, the Associated Press reports. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, among other officials, had called for such an investigation.

“It is vital that the facts about this case are gathered in a thorough, transparent and impartial manner, in which the public has complete confidence,” Nixon said.

Attorney General Eric Holder also released a statement saying the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will work in conjunction with local officers to conduct a thorough investigation.

“The federal investigation will supplement, rather than supplant, the inquiry by local authorities,” Holder said in a statement. “At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right. “

It remains unclear—and a matter of hot dispute—what led to the shooting Saturday of Brown, 18. Police say the teenager had assaulted an officer and reached for his gun. Many in community are skeptical of that account.

In downtown historic Ferguson on Monday morning, hundreds of protestors gathered around the Ferguson Police Department demanding justice for Brown, who they called a “gentle giant.” With raised hands in the air, people shouted “Don’t shoot me.”

Some protesters were peaceful. Others got in police officers’ faces, screaming obscenities and crossing police lines. Officers shouted “cuff him” while arresting at least a half-dozen protesters. Most protesters dispersed after a couple hours.

As news of the protests spread via social media, people of all races came from the region—one more than 60 miles—for a second, impromptu anti-police protest, this time in front of a burnt and looted convenience store. Protesters said they heard about the earlier demonstrations and drove to Ferguson to support to Brown’s family and the community.

Police in riot gear stayed mostly quiet as protesters shouted “no justice, no peace” and drivers honked in support. Police were not addressing the crowds.

The shooting has come at a time of heightened scrutiny across the country over police tactics and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. But Jackson resisted comparisons to other cases.

“This case, I know it seems like it’s similar to others, but what I would really hope is that we could allow the investigation to play out,” said Jackson, who, in an indicator of how hot tensions are running, reported being shot at himself Sunday night in a local Walmart parking lot.

The riots Sunday night in Ferguson left a trail of destruction, with cars vandalized, stores looted and walls spray-painted. More than 30 rioters were arrested, and police said two of their officers were injured.

“People were acting out of emotions,” Ruffin said. “There are a lot of people hurting. I’m not saying what they did was right. … We want justice.”

Police were on hand Monday to keep order.

“We can’t have another night like last night,” Jackson said on CNN. “So we hope it doesn’t happen, but we’re prepared for the worst.

About 130 police formed a line, in riot gear, as protesters chanted “we’re not stupid. We ‘re not stupid.” Protesters formed their own line with their hands up, crying out things like “don’t shoot me” and “you got to stop killing our people.” Brice Johnson, 27, held up a sign that read: “Please do not shoot. My hands are up. RIP Mike Brown.”

Police arrested at least half-a-dozen people who did not disperse.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” Jackson, the police chief, said of the shooting. “Nobody wanted this to happen, but what we want to do is we want to heal, we want to build trust with the community. And part of that is to have a transparent, open investigation, conducted by outside party.”

-Kristina Sauerwein reported from Ferguson, Mo.

 

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