The police in Ferguson, Missouri got a chance to use all that fancy riot gear Sunday night as violence broke out late in the evening during what had been peaceful, if tense, protests over the police shooting of 18-year old Michael Brown, who was unarmed when he was shot dead by police Saturday afternoon.
St Louis Times-Dispatch reports:
Hundreds of people gathered at the shooting site Sunday night for a vigil for Michael Brown, 18, who was to begin technical school classes today.
While some people prayed, others spilled onto West Florissant Avenue, choking off traffic. The situation grew more tense as the night wore on. Looting was reported at a QuikTrip at 9420 West Florissant Avenue about 9 p.m. Businesses along West Florissant were broken into. Around 11 p.m., looting was reported at a Wal-Mart in the area. A large fire was burning at West Florissant and Northwinds Estates Drive.
A civilian was reported severely beaten near West Florissant and Chambers.
At Ferguson Street and West Florissant Road, hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic. They were taunting police officers, who were lined up in riot gear, carrying shields and batons.
“It could have been one of your kids,” yelled Charles Staton, 35, of Ferguson, at the officers. “Protect and serve. They aren’t protecting.”
At the same time, about 100 people remained in front of the Ferguson police station, where South Florissant Road was also blocked by demonstrators. There the emphasis was on keeping the peace.
Some of the videos on Twitter show the crowd angry, but nonviolent. It's hard to know what sparked the violence and looting, but I'm betting it didn't have much to do with Michael Brown's killing.
Here are some of the photos and videos posted on Twitter:
Some reactions to the violence:
The FBI has opened an investigation into the shooting. In case you haven't seen the police excuse for why they put eight bullets into an unarmed kid, here it is:
In a news conference Sunday morning, Belmar, the county police chief, said the Ferguson officer had an encounter with two “individuals” about noon Saturday and that Brown pushed the officer back into his car and “assaulted” him in the vehicle.
Belmar said one shot was fired by the officer’s gun inside the car during the struggle, hitting no one, and that the officer then fired multiple times as Brown ran away. Brown fell dead in the street. Belmar said the crime scene covered a distance of just 35 feet.
Belmar did not describe the reason for the initial contact, nor indicate whether police think the shooting was justified. He also did not provide any details about the person who had been with Brown.
He said the shots that hit Brown were “more than just a couple but I don’t think it was many more than that.” He said an autopsy was pending.