Saturday 1 October 2016

State of emergency in Ferguson after gun battle during protest

Carey Gillam in Ferguson

Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30

Officers from the St Louis County Police Department process demonstrators from the
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement that had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol watch as St Louis County Police Department officers process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol watch as St Louis County Police Department officers process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman cries on the shoulder of a friend after being detained and released after having a seizure while protesting with other demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A crowd gathers along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police patrol on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Crowds chant in the street along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police take a mug shot of a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police detain a protester in Ferguson, Missouri, August, 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
St. Louis County Police arrest people along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A police officer holds his weapon as a protester is detained (rear) in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police detain a protester in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police ask protesters to stay off the street in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A police officer holds a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Protesters hold up signs on top of a closed business in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police take a mug shot of a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Authorities declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, yesterday in an effort to quell a repeat of the violence that erupted during demonstrations to mark the police shooting of an unarmed black man one year ago.

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The order was issued for the St Louis suburb and surrounding areas amid already tense relations between residents and police, after officers shot and critically wounded an 18-year-old man in an exchange of gunfire that marred what had been a day of peaceful demonstrations.

Prosecutors charged the man, Tyrone Harris, who was in a critical condition in hospital, with four criminal counts, including "assault on law enforcement" and shooting at a motor vehicle. His bond was set at $250,000.

St Louis County executive Steve Stenger said he made the state of emergency declaration because of "the potential for harm to persons and property".

It marked another chapter in the turmoil that has gripped Ferguson since Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead by white officer Darren Wilson a year ago.

On a day of civil disobedience called by activists to protest the shooting of Mr Brown and other unarmed black men across the United States by police, several people were arrested as they jumped barricades at a courthouse in St Louis, news video reports showed.

Officers from the St Louis County Police Department process demonstrators from the
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement that had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the St Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol watch as St Louis County Police Department officers process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol watch as St Louis County Police Department officers process demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement who had been arrested for protesting on Interstate 70 in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman cries on the shoulder of a friend after being detained and released after having a seizure while protesting with other demonstrators from the "Black Lives Matter" movement in Earth City, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Dozens of protesters were arrested on Monday afternoon after blocking rush-hour traffic on Interstate 70 a few miles (km) from Ferguson, Missouri, during demonstrations over the police shooting of an unarmed black man a year ago, according to a Reuters witness. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A crowd gathers along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police patrol on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Crowds chant in the street along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police take a mug shot of a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police detain a protester in Ferguson, Missouri, August, 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police hold a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
St. Louis County Police arrest people along West Florissant Avenue, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson was a community on edge again Monday, a day after a protest marking the anniversary of Michael Brown's death was punctuated with gunshots. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A police officer holds his weapon as a protester is detained (rear) in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police detain a protester in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police ask protesters to stay off the street in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A police officer holds a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Protesters hold up signs on top of a closed business in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Police take a mug shot of a protester who was detained in Ferguson, Missouri, August 10, 2015. Protesters regrouped in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday evening after a state of emergency was declared, aimed at preventing a repeat of violence the night before on the anniversary of the police shooting of unarmed black man Michael Brown. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Clergy and civil rights groups led the rally of more than 100 people through city streets, shouting, "this is what democracy looks like" and "black lives matter".

The death of Mr Brown and a grand jury's decision to spare the white officer from criminal charges led to a wave of demonstrations that boiled over into rioting and arson at times and spawned sympathy rallies across the country.

Mr Brown's death also prompted greater scrutiny of racial bias within the US criminal justice system, giving rise to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. It has gained momentum from other high-profile killings of unarmed minorities by white police in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and most recently Arlington, Texas.

What began as peaceful demonstrations on Sunday night in Ferguson descended into chaos. Volleys of gunshots rang out as police in riot gear tried to disperse protesters blocking traffic and smashing storefront windows along a street that was a flashpoint of riots last year after Mr Brown (18) was shot dead.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called Sunday's violence "a sad turn of events" carried out by a criminal element and appealed for peaceful rallies yesterday.

But Nixon, who had deployed the National Guard to quell violence last year, did not make any mention of additional security for those rallies.

The county's order allows it to distribute money and material for emergency purposes "and to protect the health and safety of residents". It also allows police to perform "all duties necessary with respect to preservation of order".

Police said Sunday's gunfire began with two groups of agitators apparently shooting at each other, before one gunman darted across a parking lot and was confronted by four officers who pulled up in an unmarked vehicle.

Police said that the suspect, Mr Harris, then opened fire on the police vehicle and was badly wounded in the ensuing foot chase and exchange of gunshots with the four detectives.

The shooters "were criminals; they weren't protesters", St Louis County police chief Jon Belmar said, estimating that 40 rounds had been fired in the exchange. "We can't sustain this as a community. We can't afford to have this kind of violence. It's untenable at this point".

Mr Harris's father said his son did not have a gun.

"He was running for his ... life because someone was shooting at him," Tyrone Harris Snr said.

Activist groups said the plain-clothes officers who shot Mr Harris should never have been deployed to the scene.

"It was a poor decision to use plain clothes officers in a protest setting because it made it difficult for people to identify police officers, which is essential to the safety of community members," said Kayla Reed, a field organiser with the Organization of Black Struggle.

Irish Independent

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