TIME Crime

See Pictures of the Weekend of Protests Around St. Louis

More acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in and around St. Louis over the weekend, calling for justice after two racially charged police shootings since August.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that several days of demonstrations called “Ferguson October,” which marked just over two months since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, gave way to a sit-in at St. Louis University during a rally for Vonderrit Myers Jr., another black teenager who was fatally shot on Oct. 8. Police say Myers fired at them first, but his family insists he was unarmed. Additional acts of civil disobedience are planned beginning on Monday.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME justice

Ferguson Protesters Arrested in First Confrontation With Police in Weeks

A police officer observes the crowd gathered in protest the police shooting of teenager Mike Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, Sept. 29, 2014.
A police officer observes the crowd gathered in protest the police shooting of teenager Mike Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, Sept. 29, 2014. James Cooper—Demotix/Corbis

A new round of clashes after nightly taunts by demonstrators

Police in Ferguson, Missouri arrested about half a dozen protesters Thursday night after days of late-night demonstrations and repeated acts of civil disobedience, marking an end to a period of relative calm after weeks of violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement after the August shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

Those arrested included members of an activist group known as the Millennials as well as a freelance journalist for CNN, The Washington Post reports. It’s not clear on what charges the protesters were arrested, but according to the Post, the demonstrators had been staging confrontations with the police for days, linking arms to block the street or loudly chanting in the streets well past an 11 p.m. noise ordinance.

On Thursday, police reportedly asked the group to quiet down, which sparked only louder chants and an eventual clash between law enforcement and demonstrators, reports the Post.

[The Washington Post]

TIME justice

Feds Seek to Patch Up Relations Between Cops and Communities

Justice Department's $4.5 million program is a response to the crisis in Ferguson

The Justice Department is launching a program to improve relations between communities and the law enforcement officers that police them, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday.

The $4.5 million program is part of the department’s response to the crisis in Ferguson, which shed light on the deep-seated tensions between the police and urban and black communities.

“Each of us has an essential obligation – and a unique opportunity – to ensure fairness, eliminate bias, and build community engagement,” said Attorney General Holder.

Through the program, titled the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, law enforcement agencies will be provided training on “bias reduction and procedural fairness,” according to the Department of Justice.

TIME Health Care

What Missouri’s New Abortion Law Means for Women

Missouri Abortion
Elizabeth War looks over a gathering of her fellow abortion opponents in the Missouri Capitol rotunda in Jefferson City, Mo. on Sept. 10, 2014. Jeff Roberson—AP

A 72-hour waiting period could have big consequences

A new Missouri law imposing a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions could decrease the abortion rate in the state, increase the abortion rate elsewhere and drive up expenses for women terminating pregnancies.

The Missouri legislature voted late on Sep. 10 to override Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the law, which requires women seeking abortions to have an in-person appointment at Missouri’s only abortion clinic, wait three days and return for the procedure itself. Abortion rights advocates say the 72-hour waiting period, which is similar to policies in Utah and South Dakota, makes accessing abortion far too arduous and intrudes into women’s personal health care decisions. Anti-abortion advocates say it gives women time to fully consider their decisions and could reduce the number of terminated pregnancies.

Reliable data on how Missouri’s new law will affect either the abortion rate or when in their pregnancies women choose to have them does not exist, but researchers have found that 24-hour waiting periods, which are law in more than 20 other states, cause women to undergo abortions later in pregnancies and travel to other states instead. This is according to an analysis of existing research compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. In a 2009 paper, Guttmcher researchers explained that after Mississippi imposed a 24-hour waiting period in 1992, the number of abortions in the state fell 22 percent and the proportion of women who underwent abortions after 12 weeks gestation increased 17 percent. After accounting for women who traveled to other states to access abortion services, the researchers said 11 to 13 percent of women who would have had abortions did not get them due to the 24-hour waiting period law.

In addition to affecting the timing, location and rate of abortions, waiting periods also increase costs for some women who are forced to travel to clinics at least twice. In a state like Missouri, which has a single abortion clinic, some women will have to travel long distances twice or spend three or four days away from home to make time for an initial appointment, the waiting period and abortion itself. In addition to the basic travel expenses, such trips can include additional costs in the form of childcare and time off from work.

One recent study, which has not been published, examined the impact of Utah’s 72-hour waiting period. In a 2013-2014 survey of 500 women who showed up for their initial counseling visits, researchers found that when contacted three weeks later, 85 percent of women had had abortions. Of those who had not, some had miscarried, others were still seeking abortions and some decided to continue their pregnancies. The rate of women who decided against having abortions was similar to the rates in other studies of locations without waiting periods, according to the study’s lead author, Sarah Roberts, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

In addition, Roberts says the study found that the average period of time between the first visit for women in Utah and the abortions was eight days, not three, due to the need to arrange logistics like lodging, transportation and childcare. She says the average additional cost imposed by Utah’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period was $40 to $50, equal to about 2.5 percent of monthly household income for women in the survey. “The costs are not insignificant,” she says, particularly for low-income women. Roberts says the Utah study also found that the three-day waiting period forced women to tell more people about their abortions, in the course of making arrangements.

As for Missouri, Roberts says it’s impossible to accurately predict what the new waiting period will mean for women in the state. But, she says,“based on our data, I would continue to expect that women would face additional financial costs. Making arrangements to go back would probably force women to tell more people about their abortions.” And, she says, “we would expect additional delay.”

TIME Disease

Hundreds of Children Stricken by Rare Respiratory Illness in Colorado

The illness appears to almost uniquely target children

Just as schools usher in a new group of students, plus all of their germs, hundreds of children in Denver have come down with an unusual and severe respiratory illness that has ailed communities across the U.S. in recent weeks.

Officials at Children’s Hospital Colorado told the Denver Post that the hospital has treated more than 900 children for the illness since Aug. 18. Similar outbreaks have been reported in geographic clusters around the Midwest this summer, including in St. Louis.

Health officials believe that the sickness is related to a rare virus called human enterovirus 68 (HEV68), the Post says. HEV68, first seen in California in 1962, and an unwelcome but highly infrequent visitor to communities worldwide since then, is a relative of the virus linked to the common cold (human rhinoviruses, or HRV), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HEV68, which almost uniquely affects children, tends to first cause cold-like symptoms, including body aches, sneezing and coughing. These mild complaints then worsen into life-threatening breathing problems that are all the more dangerous to children with asthma. Since viruses do not respond to antibiotics, hospitals have treated the illness with asthma therapies.

Although extremely unpleasant, no deaths have so far been reported from this summer’s outbreak.

There is no vaccine for HEV68, and health officials are encouraging the same practices that guard against the common cold: keep your hands to yourself, and wash them often.

TIME Civil Rights

Justice Department Opens Civil Rights Probe Into Ferguson Police

US Attorney General Eric Holder delivers remarks on the Justice Department’s efforts in Ferguson, Missouri.
US Attorney General Eric Holder responds to a question from the news media on the Justice Department’s efforts in Ferguson, Missouri during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, on Sept. 4, 2014. Shawn Thew—EPA

"Our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests."

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department would open a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department in the wake of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teenager last month.

The Aug. 9 encounter prompted riots and days of protests in the St. Louis suburb, and the Department of Justice is already separately investigating whether any civil rights laws were violated during the shooting of the teenager, Michael Brown.

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference on Thursday that city leaders would be cooperating with the investigation into whether there was a pattern or practice of discrimination in the force. He also said the so-called “pattern or practice” investigation could be expanded to include police departments in neighboring jurisdictions.

“In Ferguson, our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that are brought to light,” Holder said.

The Department was given the legal authority to open “pattern or practice” investigations in 1994 and in the past five years it has opened 20 such investigations across the country.

TIME Crime

Missouri Governor Lifts Ferguson State of Emergency

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri speaks to the media on Aug. 15, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Scott Olson—Getty Images

Governor Jay Nixon said he saw encouraging signs of 'folks getting back to their normal routines'

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted a state of emergency for the city of Ferguson Wednesday, arguing that weeks of unrest over the shooting of an unarmed teenager had finally subsided.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen students getting back to school, businesses reopening their doors and folks getting back to their normal routines,” Nixon said in a statement. “This progress is a testament to the efforts of community and faith leaders, working alongside state and local law enforcement officers, to bring peace to the streets of Ferguson and much-needed stability to its citizens.”

Nixon declared the state of emergency on August 16 after demonstrators spilled into the streets to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by police officer Darren Wilson. The governor’s declaration mobilized the National Guard, which set up a unified command center with local police in an attempt to exercise crowd control and enforce nightly curfews. The National Guard was dismissed and the command center closed last week.

TIME Crime

Ferguson Reaches ‘Turning Point’ as Violence Eases

Andrew Cutraro—REDUX for TIME

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson praised the efforts of the local community in helping to disperse violent protests, as 47 were arrested

Tuesday night marked a significant decline in violence between protesters and police in Ferguson, Mo., 10 days after the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer brought nights of unrest to the streets of this St. Louis suburb.

For the first night in a week, police did not employ tear gas, instead using National Guard tactical teams to identify the loudest and most imposing protesters, arresting some 47 people, mostly for failure to disperse. Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told reporters at an early morning conference that it was a sea change from the looting and unrest of previous nights.

“I believe there was a turning point made tonight,” he said, speaking the day Attorney General Eric Holder was due to arrive in Ferguson to meet with investigators looking into the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer on Aug. 9. A grand jury probe of Brown’s death was also expected to be convened on Wednesday morning.

Johnson praised the efforts of local clergy and civilians to diffuse the tension on the contested strip of West Florissant Ave. Peacefully-protesting organizers, including members of the clergy, held a large prayer circle at 12:35 a.m., then sought to send the crowd home rather than see them clash with police.

In the minutes following that prayer, elder protesters approached the teens and 20-somethings on the fringes and pleaded with them to go home. Most, if not all, declined. In an exchange witnessed by this reporter, linebacker-sized community activist Paul Muhammad, wearing fatigues and a black t-shirt reading “Peacekeepers,” approached a teenage boy wearing a red bandana over his face. “If you’re going to be out here all night, then I’ll be out here all night. Let’s just go home,” he said. When the teen demurred, Muhammad asked him to show his face. “You don’t need the mask,” he said. The teenager replied: “I don’t got no face.”

It was from this cluster of fringe onlookers, who had declined to participate in marches up and down W. Florissant for much of the evening, that a single water bottle was hurled at police. The bottle missed its mark, yet set in motion a police advance south on W. Florissant, with glass and urine being hurled at police and officers responding by pepper-spraying several protesters. One such agitator, said Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, was an out-of-state violator from Austin, Texas.

Johnson was visibly weary yet in a celebratory mood after a day that saw several store owners re-open their doors on W. Florissant, and an easing of nighttime violence. He told reporters at a 2:30 a.m. news conference that he and other officers had encountered a local woman grilling out on her front lawn. She offered officers “hot dogs and ice-cold water,” he said, “and what a good hot dog it was. That is the true spirit of Ferguson.”

Demonstrators in Ferguson have decried what they describe as an influx of out-of-towners who have been involved in violence and looting. In the previous day’s clash with police, 21st ward alderman Antonio French claimed to have identified a man from Chicago in a picture who was launching projectiles at police.

Peaceful protesters on Tuesday night took heed of the reports of French and others, carefully monitoring protesters who seemed non-native to St. Louis County. At one point, two masked men hurled to the ground a fair-skinned man who seemed to reach for a brick as police advanced toward the group of protesters. The man recovered and ran south and out of sight as his attackers screamed “Where you from?”

Missouri Attorney-General Chris Koster earlier in the day delivered to protesters the news of the grand jury investigation. That news, repeated over and over again on a loudspeaker by a protester following the impromptu prayer, didn’t seem to resonate with those who had earlier chanted the anti-police invective “F–k 12.”

For them, these protests have become about something else.

—With reporting by P. Nash Jenkins

TIME Ferguson

Attorney General Holder Appeals for Calm in Message to Ferguson

Obama Meets Holder About the Situation in Ferguson
United States Attorney General Eric Holder looks on during a meeting in the Oval office of the White House with U.S. President Obama to receive an update on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery—Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

"This is my pledge to the people of Ferguson: Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for an end to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, as he promised the Justice Department investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer “will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent.”

“At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened,” Holder wrote in a piece published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The U.S. Attorney investigating the case told TIME Tuesday his department’s work is going smoothly, but cautioned the released of information will be a slow process.

Holder’s message comes as violent unrest continues nightly in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after the August 9 death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old killed by a police officer there. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered National Guard troops to the area Monday after local police were heavily criticized for what many argued has been an excessive response to the unrest. However, the National Guard’s presence did little to calm tensions Monday night, as at least 78 people were arrested during violent demonstrations that continued through the evening.

Holder arrived in Ferguson Tuesday to take stock of the situation and “be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation” that’s currently underway, he wrote. Holder says the Department of Justice has committed around 40 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to the case in addition to Civil Rights Division prosecutors investigating the shooting. Holder also urged Ferguson’s peaceful protestors to work together to calm those who have been looting and rioting during the ongoing demonstrations.

“I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord,” Holder wrote.

TIME Crime

Grand Jury to Probe Ferguson Teen’s Death

As city issues call for "nighttime quiet and reconciliation"

A grand jury will begin investigating the circumstances surrounding the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., officials said Tuesday, an incident that has sparked more than a week of violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.

A spokesman for the St. Louis County prosecutor on the case told Bloomberg News that a grand jury probe would begin on Wednesday, and that grand jurors will ask Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson to testify about the events that led to the shooting of Michael Brown.

Meanwhile, the city of Ferguson released a notice to residents urging them to stay indoors at night and allow “peace to settle in, and allow for the justice process to take its course.”

The city has been rocked by nighttime protests over the past 10 days, which police have responded to with volleys of tear gas.

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