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Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets Mark Second Day Of Missouri Shooting Protests

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 12, 2014 6:05PM

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri Monday night during a second day of protests, after police killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown last Saturday. The small St. Louis suburb has been rocked by two days of unrest after Brown, 18, was shot by a police officer multiple times. Community members have held prayer vigils and other demonstrations to call for an investigation and ultimately, justice for Brown.

On Sunday, community members attempting to hold a vigil and demand answers were met with riot police. Confrontations continued and worsened, ultimately becoming violent and chaotic, with several stores being looted. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told CNN charges were filed against 10 suspects, saying “What occurred last night, the mob action, we know certainly is not representative of what's going on and what the people in the neighborhood necessarily think."

When demonstrators attempted to gather Monday, they were met with an overwhelming force of police. Along a police line, members of the crowd raised their arms into the air chanting “hands up, don’t shoot.” Protesters said Brown’s shooting was another injustice in a long line of unfair treatment of members of the community by police. Troy Woods, a 48-year-old St. Louis man told the Los Angeles Times “These are the next kids to get shot, right here. 16, 17, 18 years old. They treat us like second class all the way down the line.” Ricky Brown, another person on the scene said:

"At the end of the day, when I'm driving home, they ask me to pull over and get out of the car. No 'license and registration, please.' Get out of the car. Lay on the ground. Put your hands on your head.”

Brown’s parents called for calm, but also demanded justice be served for their son. Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney who also represented Trayvon Martin’s family, told CBS News “Respect how they raised him in the fact that he was a nonviolent kid. We want you in the public to know if you were a witness to what happened, don't feel intimidated come forward.”

The FBI has opened an investigation, but it remains to be seen if it will yield any results. Too often in situations similar to Brown’s, officers responsible end up on “paid administrative leave” and if charges are ever brought, they’re usually minimal. Meanwhile, another black youth is dead in a community that reads those words in the media all too often.

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why the situation in Ferguson has boiled over, and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, the police response has simply fanned the flames in an already tense and terrible situation. New York Times reporter Julie Bosman tweeted a photo of a group of people who wanted to comply with the order to go home, but were not allowed by police. Fox2 published a photo of an officer pointing an assault rifle into a backyard. Ray Downs of the St. Louis Riverfront Times, who at one point reported journalists were also being threatened by police, reported police were firing gas into the yards of neighborhood home owners. Police stated that they would deploy the gas if residents didn’t “go home,” but they were already at home in their front yards. Police can be seen firing at one home-owner as he shouted “This is my property!”

Sadly, the focus from Brown’s story—and all those similar to it—will shift from talking about why he was killed to justifying the use of force by the police on a community that’s all too used to lethal results. As Aisha Sultan for the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes:

“Brown's own family members have said the destruction in their hometown is salt in their wounds. When peaceful protests turn to a city's self immolation, there is no justice for anyone. What's left is a community used to being unheard, roiling in the wake of a deadly police shooting. A powder keg of unemployment and poverty, of neglect and frustration, and those willing to exploit a tragedy for personal gain.

The most economically depressed and violence-torn parts of the city and county, predominantly black neighborhoods, are largely ignored by the civic establishment, unless to explain why the city's high rank in violent crime isn't an accurate depiction of the region.”