TIME India

Several Dead as Caste-Related Violence Wracks India’s Gujarat State

The armed forces have been called in to restore order

Correction appended, Aug. 27

Violent clashes in the western Indian state of Gujarat left at least six people dead late Wednesday, with the army being sent in to restore order after a protest by one of the state’s most dominant communities spiraled out of control.

Three people died in the state’s largest city Ahmedabad after hundreds of the estimated half a million attendees began throwing stones and set cars, buses and police stations ablaze, a local police official told Agence France-Presse. Two others were reportedly killed when police opened fire in another part of the state, with a sixth victim also falling to police action in a third district.

By Thursday morning, local newspapers reported that the death toll had risen to nine including a police officer.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat and previously served as the state’s chief minister for more than a decade, appealed for calm in a televised address. “Violence has never done good for anyone,” he said. “All issues can be resolved peacefully through talks.”

The government also imposed a curfew in parts of the state before calling in the armed forces, the first time this has been done in Gujarat since the communal riots that claimed more than a thousand lives in 2002 when Modi ran the state.

The clashes began late Tuesday following a huge rally by the affluent Patidar community, during which protest leader Hardik Patel, 22, was briefly placed under arrest. The Patidars, or Patels as they are more commonly known, have been agitating since June to be included in India’s caste-based quota system aimed at uplifting India’s former “untouchables” and other traditionally disadvantaged social groups through affirmative action. However, the Patidars are relatively well-to-do as a result of their work in India’s burgeoning diamond trade and other successful businesses.

The state government currently led by another Patidar, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, has ruled out including the community in the Other Backward Classes category, but Hardik Patel has said he will continue his movement until their demands are met.

“This is a fight for our rights,” the young firebrand said in a televised interview on Wednesday. “We will continue our campaign on the roads and the streets.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the capital of Gujarat. It is Gandhinagar.

TIME India

Riots Break Out in India Over a Dominant Caste’s Attempt to Gain ‘Backward’ Status

hardik-patel-gujarat-arrest
Shailesh Raval—India Today Group/Getty Images Hardik Patel, center, and others at the Maha Kranti rally at GMDC ground in Ahmedabad on Aug. 25, 2015. The Maha Kranti rally comes after a monthlong agitation by the Patel community for their demand of reservation

Hardik Patel has taken Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state by storm

Correction appended, Aug. 27

Hardik Patel helps his father run a small business selling submersible pumps in rural areas surrounding Ahmedabad, the largest city in India’s prosperous western state of Gujarat. The 22-year-old has a bachelor’s degree in commerce and belongs to a middle-class family.

On Tuesday, however, he was arrested, sparking violent protests from the tens of thousands of people who had gathered to hear him speak. In response, the state government imposed a curfew and shuttered schools in several parts of the state.

Three police stations were set ablaze by the mob, which also attacked the homes of three state ministers, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

Patel is at the helm of a protest movement aimed at declaring the Patidar community he belongs to — an affluent and politically dominant section of Gujarati society — as “backward” under India’s quota system for its historically lower castes, legally termed as Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC). This would give the Patidars access to the 50% of government jobs and places in educational institutions currently reserved for such “backward” castes under a form of affirmative action.

The Patels (or Patidars) run several small and medium businesses not just in India but also in the U.S., Europe and Africa. They are also key players in India’s diamond trade, and have been major supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs to since the late 1980s.

But as Patel warned during his rally on Tuesday, referencing the party’s election symbol, “the lotus will not bloom” if his community’s demands are not met.

“If you do not give us our right, we will snatch it,” he said, before declaring an indefinite hunger strike, following which he was briefly arrested and then released. “Whoever will talk of Patel interests will rule over Patels.”

The Gujarat government led by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel — who also happens to belong to the same community — has rejected Hardik Patel’s demands, saying that the 50% cap on reservations for lower castes has already been met in Gujarat. This means that including the Patidars could only be done by reducing access for more-needy castes. The protest leader counters that the government quota, which ensures a portion of college admissions and government jobs are reserved for lower castes and classes that have traditionally faced discrimination, puts the Patel community at a disadvantage since they are denied access to those positions despite being eligible on merit.

“It’s always the socially and economically better off within each state, the dominant castes of that region [that make such arguments],” Yagati Chinna Rao, chairman of the Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, tells TIME. He cites examples like the Gujjar community in Gujarat’s neighboring state of Rajasthan, and the land-owning Jat community in the northern part of the country, among others, whose similar agitations have met with mixed success.

“Basically, it’s middle-class intelligentsia aggression, since you have the financial resources and education and facilities but you are not able to put your foot into the remaining half of the box, which is sealed,” Rao says.

In terms of actually attaining their goal, though, Hardik Patel and his followers have a long way to go.

“It is in the hands of the government only initially, but this demand will go to a committee and that committee has to do academic studies on whether the community is socially and educationally backward,” Colin Gonsalves, director of New Delhi–based Human Rights Law Network, tells TIME. “Ultimately this is going to the courts, because the expansion of the OBC list is something that the courts are looking at very closely now.”

Gonsalves, like Rao, compares it to the “ambitious and unconstitutional” recent agitation for the Jats of Haryana to be included in the backward classes. Although he says it is too early to write off the Patels for similar reasons, the Gujarat clan “may suffer the same fate.”

“The entire community may be behind Hardik Patel, and I congratulate him for his political movement,” he says. “But a political movement — even a wide-based political movement — may not necessarily result in constitutional recognition.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the capital of Gujarat. It is Gandhinagar.

TIME Crime

Chelsea Manning Is Found Guilty But Won’t Face Solitary Confinement

People hold signs calling for the release of imprisoned wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning while marching in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, California
Elijah — REUTERS People hold signs calling for the release of imprisoned wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning while marching in a gay pride parade in San Francisco, California June 28, 2015

Manning will receive 21 days of recreational restrictions

(WICHITA, Kan.) — Convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning was found guilty Tuesday of violating prison rules and will receive three weeks of recreational restrictions at the Kansas military prison where she’s serving her 35-year sentence, her attorney said.

The transgender Army private was accused of having a copy of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and an expired tube of toothpaste, among other things. Her attorney, Chase Strangio of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a news release that Manning was convicted of all charges after a closed four-hour disciplinary board hearing in which she had no counsel.

Manning received 21 days of recreational restrictions limiting access to the gym, library and outdoors. The maximum punishment she could have faced was indefinite solitary confinement.

The U.S. Army has declined to release any information on the results of the hearing, citing the Privacy Act of 1976. The military said in a statement last week that it is committed to “a fair and equitable process,” and called such proceedings “a common practice in correctional systems to hold prisoners accountable to facility rules.”

The prison infractions include possession of prohibited property in the form of books and magazines while under administrative segregation; medicine misuse over the toothpaste; disorderly conduct for sweeping food onto the floor; and disrespect. All relate to alleged misconduct on July 2 and 9.

“When I spoke to Chelsea earlier today she wanted to convey the message to supporters that she is so thankful for the thousands of people from around the world who let the government know that we are watching and scrutinizing what happens to her behind prison walls,” Strangio said.

Strangio credited public support for keeping Manning out of solitary confinement. Petitions signed by 100,000 people were delivered Tuesday to the U.S. Army by digital rights group Fight for the Future and others.

In addition to the recreational restrictions, the convictions that are now on her record could be cited in future hearings concerning parole or clemency, which could delay her transition to a less restrictive custody status, Strangio said.

The intelligence analyst, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for sending more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks while working in Iraq. She is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for leaking reams of war logs, diplomatic cables and battlefield video to the anti-secrecy website in 2010.

 

TIME Bangladesh

13 Suspects Charged With Lynching a Boy in Bangladesh

BANGLADESH-CRIME-CHILDREN
Munir Uz Zaman—AFP/Getty Images Bangladeshi protesters carry a banner during a demonstration against the lynching of a 13-year-old boy in Dhaka on July 14, 2015

A video of the boy pleading for his life as the assailants laughed went viral

Thirteen men were charged Sunday for the July 8 mob killing of a 13-year-old boy in the Bangladeshi city of Sylhet.

Samiul Alam Rajon was brutally beaten to death after a group of men accused him of stealing a bicycle rickshaw. An autopsy found he had suffered 64 separate injuries.

While “mob justice” attacks on suspected thieves are not uncommon in Bangladesh, this particular case sparked outrage nationwide after a video of the alleged perpetrators laughing during the attack went viral, drawing hundreds of protesters to the streets of Sylhet.

Ten of the men admitted to their role in the crime and have since been arrested in Bangladesh, the BBC reports. Three more who fled the country shortly after the attacks were charged in absentia.

Kamrul Islam, the prime suspect in the case, is allegedly hiding out in Saudi Arabia, according to the BBC. Bangladeshi officials are hoping the country will process his extradition soon.

[BBC]

TIME China

Tianjin Residents Demand Compensation After Deadly Blasts

China Port Explosion
Paul Traynor—AP Residents, some wearing masks, hold banners and placards as they stage a protest outside a hotel where officials held daily media conferences in northeastern China's Tianjin municipality Aug. 17, 2015

"We victims demand: Government, buy back our houses"

(TIANJIN, China) — About a hundred people whose residences were damaged in the massive Tianjin blasts gathered Monday for a protest to demand compensation from the government as the death toll from the disaster rose to 114 with 70 still missing.

The blasts on Wednesday night originated at a warehouse for hazardous material, where 700 tons of sodium cyanide — a toxic chemical that can form combustible substances on contact with water — were being stored in amounts that violated safety rules. That has prompted contamination fears and a major cleanup of a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) -radius, cordoned-off area in this Chinese port city southeast of Beijing.

Chinese work safety rules require such facilities to be at least 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) away from residences, public buildings and highways. But online map searches show the Ruihai International Logistics warehouse was within 500 meters of both an expressway and a 100,000-square-meter (1-million-square-foot) apartment complex. Those apartments had walls singed and windows shattered, and all the residents have been evacuated.

“We victims demand: Government, buy back our houses,” said a banner carried by the residents at a protest outside the Tianjin hotel where officials have held daily news conferences about the disaster. “Kids are asking: How can we grow up healthy?” read another banner.

Tianjin officials have been hard-pressed to answer how the warehouse was allowed to operate in its location. Questions also have been raised about management of the warehouse, and the country’s top prosecuting office announced Sunday that it was setting up a team to investigate possible offenses related to the massive blasts, including dereliction of duty and abuse of power. Ruihai’s general manager is in hospital under police watch.

Bian Jiang, a resident of one of the nearby housing complexes, said he was asleep when the first explosion struck last Wednesday night, shortly before midnight.

“Twenty seconds later I heard the second explosion and saw the rising mushroom cloud. Then, I was thrown out of bed by the force of the blast. I was wondering if we would able to get out alive,” he said, adding that his home is now ruined. “All the windows are gone.”

The blasts claimed the lives of at least 114 people, with 70 still missing, including 64 firefighters and six policemen, Tianjin government spokesman Gong Jiansheng told a news conference Monday.

On Monday, He Shushan, a deputy mayor, confirmed there were 700 tons of the toxic chemical sodium cyanide on the site at the time of the blasts, although the authorities said there have not been any substantial leaks. Authorities also said they had sealed all waterways leading into the sea from the blast site and built retention walls to prevent any runoff.

Sodium cyanide is a toxic chemical that can form a flammable gas upon contact with water, and several hundred tons would be a clear violation of rules cited by state media that the warehouse could store no more than 10 tons at a time.

Tianjin officials have ordered a citywide check on any potential safety risks and violation of fire rules, mandating suspension of operations for factories that cannot immediately comply with safety rules. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Tianjin on Sunday, visiting those injured and displaced by the disaster.

The death toll includes at least 21 firefighters — making the disaster the deadliest for Chinese firefighters in more than six decades — and their toll could go much higher because 64 remain missing. About 1,000 firefighters responded to the disaster.

The public has raised concerns whether firefighters were put into harm’s way in the initial response to the fire and whether the hazardous material — including compounds combustible on contact with water — was properly taken into account in the way the firefighters responded.

The massive explosions late Wednesday night happened about 40 minutes after reports of a fire at the warehouse and after an initial wave of firefighters arrived and, reportedly, doused some of the area with water.

The Tianjin blasts are among the deadliest industrial accidents in China in recent years. In June 2013, a fire at a poultry plant in the northeastern province of Jilin killed 121 people. In August 2014, a dust explosion at a metal plant in the eastern province of Jiangsu left 97 people dead.

___

Associated Press video journalist Wong Wai-bor in Tianjin and writers Ian Mader and Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.

TIME brazil

Anti-Government Protesters Take to The Streets Across Brazil

Brazil Protests
Andre Penner—AP Demonstrators hold a sign that reads in Portuguese "Dilma out" during a protest demanding the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 16, 2015

Protests took place in some 16 states

(SAO PAULO) — Brazilians took to the streets of cities and towns across the country Sunday for anti-government protests being watched as a barometer of discontent with the increasingly unpopular President Dilma Rousseff.

Called mostly by activist groups via social media, the demonstrations assailed Rousseff, whose standing in the polls has plunged amid a snowballing corruption scandal that has embroiled politicians from her Workers’ Party as well as a sputtering economy, a weakening currency and rising inflation.

But the protests drew relatively modest crowds, likely giving the president some breathing room. Huge numbers had come out for two earlier rounds of demonstrations this year.

Turnout appeared significantly lower in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s industrial and economic capital where dissatisfaction with Rousseff has run particularly high and protests in March and April drew thick crowds. The president’s supporters also staged a small counter-demonstration in front of the offices of her mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Datafolha polling firm estimated 135,000 people demonstrated against Rousseff on Sao Paulo’s Avenida Paulista, one of the city’s largest avenues, while state police put the number at 350,000. Crowd-counting experts have long criticized Brazilian police estimates, saying they overestimate crowds by relying on photos of only the most crowded areas to estimate a gathering. Datafolha breaks the avenue up into sections and gauges density for each section.

In Rio de Janeiro, several thousand people, many brandishing green and yellow Brazilian flags, demonstrated at Copacabana Beach. The demonstration was planned to coincide with a cycling test event for next year’s Olympics in the city, but organizers changed the route and timing of the sports event to avoid a possible clash.

Protests took place in some 16 states, including in the Amazonian metropolis of Belem, Recife in the northeast, and the central city of Belo Horizonte. In the capital, Brasilia, a march on a central avenue flanked by ministries and monuments appeared to have drawn several thousand participants.

The demonstrations were called largely by web-based activist groups with demands ranging from Rousseff’s impeachment to a return to military dictatorship like the one that ruled the country in 1964-85.

But an end to corruption appeared to be a top demand. The widening probe into corruption at the state-run Petrobras oil company that began more than a year ago has exposed how widely official graft permeates Brazilian society, snaring top members of the Workers’ and other political parties as well as executives of powerful construction companies.

Marisa Bizquolo, who joined in the Sao Paulo protest, said she held Rousseff responsible for the Petrobras scandal.

“She must be impeached or resign for ultimately she is responsible for all the corruption and the economic mess this country is in,” said Bizquolo, a doctor. “But I am concerned that there is no one who could take her place and run a decent government. We have no leaders.”

Amid the corruption probe and an economic crunch that has seen the once-booming economy teeter on the brink of recession, Rousseff’s popularity ratings have fallen to a level not seen since 1992, when President Fernando Collor de Mello was forced from office after being impeached for corruption.

A poll earlier this month said only 8 percent of those surveyed considered Brazil’s government to be “great” or “good.” By contrast, 71 percent said the government is a “failure.” The Datafolha poll was based on interviews with 3,358 people on Aug. 4 and 5 and had an error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

In a research note, the Eurasia Group political risk consulting firm called Sunday’s protests “an important signpost to monitor.”

“While calls for Rousseff to step down will be the headline of Sunday’s demonstrations … the greater risk for the government would be if massive protests become frequent and if they are followed by movements from organized labor,” the firm said.

In 2013, a wave of nationwide protests took analysts by surprise, with the largest crowds in a generation taking to the streets ahead of the Confederations Cup soccer tournament, a dry run for the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil. Protesters were angry over lavish spending on stadiums and other infrastructure for the tournament, which contrasted with the woeful state of Brazil’s public schools and hospitals.

Dissatisfaction over poor public services and high taxes continues to simmer here as the country gears up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

TIME Missouri

Protests Turn Peaceful in Ferguson After Two Nights of Tension

The St. Louis suburb has seen demonstrations for days

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Police outnumbered protesters along West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson on Tuesday night, perhaps signaling the demonstrations around the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death are starting to fade.

The crowd of around 100 demonstrators was mostly calm and peaceful. Occasionally a few people would march or start a chant, but they spent most of several hours milling around and chatting with one another.

Larry Miller, 58, organizer of the protest group Ferguson Freedom Fighters, said it was clear the latest round of demonstrations were dying down. He wasn’t convinced much was accomplished.

“We already know what needs to be happening is not happening,” Miller said. “We’re still bothered over the killing of Mike Brown because we still need police reform, criminal justice system reform.”

A tense moment Tuesday came when a couple dozen people briefly blocked traffic. But several officers in riot gear, along with St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, quickly moved to break it up.

Police said they made no arrests. Overall, it was a far cry from the violence and tension that marred the previous two nights.

The St. Louis suburb has seen demonstrations for days marking the anniversary of Brown’s killing on Aug. 9, 2014. Brown, 18, was fatally shot by former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson after a confrontation. A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson, but Brown’s death spurred a national “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The events had largely been peaceful until Sunday night, when gunfire erupted and 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr. was shot by officers after they say he fired into an unmarked police van. Harris is hospitalized in critical condition and has been charged with 10 felonies.

St. Louis County police on Tuesday released a 13-second clip of security camera footage they say shows Harris minutes before he fired at plainclothes officers. The clip shows a person police identify as Harris grabbing a handgun from his waistband and running toward a parking lot, police say in response to the other shots being fired.

Harris’ father disputed the police account Monday but declined to discuss his son’s shooting Tuesday.

The gunfire and Harris’ shooting set the city on edge and had protest leaders worried that tensions would escalate. The St. Louis County executive declared a state of emergency Monday, a move that gave Belmar — instead of interim Ferguson Police Chief Andre Anderson — control of security.

On Monday night, the police presence was far greater. Officers lined several blocks of West Florissant, rather than staying confined to a smaller area. Unlike Sunday, there was no gunfire, no injuries and no reports of looting or property damage.

Still though, more than 20 people were arrested. Police never deployed smoke or tear gas, though they were at times pelted with water bottles and rocks.

By Tuesday night, there was far less tension. Police said in a statement that at one point, officers reported rocks being thrown at them. They took no action, and the rock-throwing soon stopped, according to the statement.

Even when armed members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government activist group whose presence Belmar has called “both unnecessary and inflammatory,” appeared, there was little conflict.

While one member was being interviewed by media, several protesters gathered around and chanted loud enough to drown him out briefly. Later, several Oath Keepers and protesters began arguing, but eventually shouting gave way to conversation, and the group parted ways with a pat on the back.

John Karriman, an Oath Keepers leader from southwest Missouri, said members plan to remain in Ferguson at least through the end of the week.

Belmar said the de-escalation over the past two nights was largely due to police work that has been learned in Ferguson since last August.

“It comes back to experience,” he said. “We look at it as we’ve seen it before.”

County Executive Steve Stenger said the state of emergency could be lifted as soon as Wednesday.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Suhr and Alan Scher Zagier and video journalist John Mone contributed to this report.

TIME U.S.

Scenes from the Ferguson Protests One Year After Michael Brown’s Death

On Aug. 9, 2014 the death of Michael Brown sparked sometimes violent protests and a year of debate about the nature of the relationship between police and African Americans. Now, on the anniversary of his death, fresh unrest threatens to enflame racial tensions once again

TIME Missouri

Patriot Group Brings Assault Rifles to Ferguson Protests

The Oath Keepers are described as a "fiercely anti-government, militaristic group"

Heavily-armed members of a controversial patriot group added an extra dose of unease to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, early Tuesday.

The Oath Keepers organization says its members — all former military, police and first responders — pledge to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

However, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their presence as “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”

Protesters and police confirmed that a handful of Oath Keepers with assault rifles, bulletproof vest and camouflage gear were seen early Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, which was under a state of emergency following demonstrations pegged to the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Missouri

Almost Two Dozen People Arrested on Fourth Night of Ferguson Protests

By early Monday evening, hundreds of people had gathered

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Police arrested nearly two dozen people in Ferguson during a fourth consecutive night of demonstrations marking the anniversary of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The gathering that stretched into early Tuesday morning came a day after a protest along West Florissant Avenue that was interrupted by gunfire and a police shooting that left an 18-year-old critically injured. The violence set the St. Louis suburb on edge and had protest leaders worried about whether tensions would escalate.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency, which authorized county Police Chief Jon Belmar to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson.

By early Monday evening, hundreds of people had gathered again along West Florissant, the thoroughfare that was the site of massive protests and rioting after Brown was fatally shot last year in a confrontation with a Ferguson police officer.

The protesters chanted, beat drums and carried signs. When some in the group moved into a traffic lane, officers in riot gear forced people out of the street. Some demonstrators threw water bottles and other debris at officers.

Belmar told The Associated Press: “They’re not going to take the street tonight. That’s not going to happen.”

Ferguson resident Hershel Myers Jr., 46, criticized the police response as aggressive and unnecessary.

A military veteran, he added, “It’s wrong for me to have to go overseas and fight with ‘Army’ across my chest, but we can’t fight on our own street where I live.”

By 1 a.m., the crowd and police presence along West Florissant had been begun to diminish.

County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said approximately 23 arrests were made, though police were still confirming official totals.

There were no shots fired and no burglaries, looting or property damage during the protest, McGuire said in a statement. No smoke or tear gas was used, and no police or civilians reported injuries, he said.

Protests also spilled outside of Ferguson earlier Monday. Almost 60 people, including scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West, were arrested around midday for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis. Another group later briefly blocked Interstate 70 during the late afternoon rush hour, with an additional 64 arrests, according to McGuire.

At the protest that began Sunday night, tensions escalated after several hundred people gathered in the street, ignoring repeated warnings to get to the sidewalk or face arrest. Then, several gunshots suddenly rang out from an area near a strip of stores, including some that had been looted moments earlier. The shots sent protesters and reporters running for cover.

Belmar said he believed there were six shooters, including 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr., who Belmar said then opened fire on officers.

Police had been watching Harris during the protest out of concern that he was armed, the chief said.

During the gunfire, Harris crossed the street and apparently spotted plainclothes officers arriving in an unmarked van with distinctive red and blue police lights, Belmar said. The suspect allegedly shot into the windshield of the van.

The four officers in the van fired back, then pursued the suspect on foot. The suspect again fired on the officers when he became trapped in a fenced-in area, Belmar said, and all four opened fire.

Harris was in critical condition after surgery. Prosecutors announced 10 charges against him — five counts of armed criminal action, four counts of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and a firearms charge. All 10 are felonies.

All four officers in the van, each wearing protective vests, escaped injury. They were not wearing body cameras, Belmar said.

Harris’ father called the police version of events “a bunch of lies.” He said two girls who were with his son told him he was unarmed and had been drawn into a dispute involving two groups of young people.

Tyrone Harris Sr. told The Associated Press his son was a close friend of Michael Brown and was in Ferguson on Sunday night to pay respects.

The elder Harris said his son got caught up in a dispute among two groups of young people and was “running for his life” after gunfire broke out.

“My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot,” he said. “It’s all a bunch of lies … They’re making my son look like a criminal.”

Online court records show that Tyrone Harris Jr. was charged in November with stealing a motor vehicle and a gun, as well as resisting arrest by fleeing. A court hearing in that case is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Belmar said the suspect who fired on officers had a semi-automatic 9 mm gun that was stolen last year.

___

Associated Press reporter Alan Scher Zagier and photographer Jeff Roberson contributed to this report.

 

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com