New US Shooting in Spotlight as Ferguson Calms – NDTV
Surveillance video released Wednesday showed that the boy, Tamir Rice, was shot last weekend only seconds after two officers arrived in a patrol car at a Cleveland, Ohio park.
Audio broadcast on US TV shows that a man who first observed the boy waving and pointing the gun and called police to report it specified at least twice he thought it was probably “a fake.”
But the dispatcher speaking to officers racing to the scene fails to mention that this witness thought the gun was not real.
The video emerged as tensions eased in Ferguson, after two days of often violent unrest sparked by Monday’s decision by a grand jury not to charge a white policeman who shot dead an unarmed black teenager.
Just a few dozen protesters and clergy braved rain and light snow to protest outside the police department in the St Louis suburb, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed on August 9.
The shooting sparked weeks of protest and a debate about race relations and military-style police tactics.
A Missouri grand jury decided Monday not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots — a move that inspired coast-to-coast anger in the United States as well as a rally across the Atlantic in London.
The simmering fury led a small group of protesters to attempt to storm St Louis city hall Wednesday. After they were rebuffed, extra police and a National Guard Humvee were drafted to protect the building.
In Ferguson late Wednesday, the group of mostly young people — bundled up against the cold — shouted, “This is what democracy looks like.”
One or two taunted and swore at the 50 National Guard in riot gear who stood on duty at the police department.
Witnesses said police took one person into custody.
Later a couple dozen protesters accompanied by clergy, volunteer medics and a gaggle of media marched down the road from Ferguson police station past city hall to an intersection where the National Guard had a discreet presence.
They briefly blocked traffic but dispersed peacefully after police in riot gear turned up. Protest organizers ordered them out of the road onto the sidewalk to avoid confrontation with the police.
During the day volunteer clean-up crews swept the streets of Ferguson, where angry crowds on Monday torched businesses and looted stores.
Heavy security — police, state troopers and National Guard troops — was still visible in the streets Wednesday, but the situation was stabilizing. Already, Tuesday night did not see the scale of destruction that followed Monday’s decision.
In Britain, where thousands of sympathizers angered by Brown’s treatment marched in London chanting the same slogan: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
“We need to send a message to Mike Brown’s family,” said Carol Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man whose shooting by British police in 2011 sparked riots in London.
US civil rights leaders have called for more protests on Saturday.
Similar rallies were held last year after the acquittal on murder charges of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot dead another unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, in Florida.
In Ferguson, where the National Guard presence was tripled to 2,200 on Tuesday in a bid to quell violence, residents said on the eve of Thanksgiving that they hoped looting and arson would stop.
Karen Gold, who owns a shop selling repurposed furniture and handmade items from local artists near the Ferguson city hall, painted festive scenes on her boarded-up shop front.
“Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I hope we can pull together as a community,” Gold, who is white, told AFP. “I want to move on from this.”
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told CBS News that they hoped protests would remain peaceful.
“We continue to ask for calm,” McSpadden said.
Brown’s parents however had harsher words for Wilson, who had said Tuesday he had a “clean conscience” about the shooting.
The grand jury found that Wilson had shot Brown in self-defense after an altercation with him. A total of 12 shots were fired.
In his first televised comments since the incident, Wilson told ABC News he had feared for his life during the confrontation, believing Brown was attempting to wrestle his gun away from him.
A visibly emotional McSpadden said on NBC’s “Today” show that Wilson’s remarks added “insult after injury” and were “so disrespectful.”
His father, Michael Brown Sr, said on NBC he felt the officer’s version of events was “crazy.”
“For one, my son, he respected law enforcement,” Brown said.
“Two, who in their right mind would rush or charge at a police officer that has his gun drawn? It sounds crazy.”