State of emergency called in Ferguson after gunfire
Violence erupted during protests overnight to mark the police shooting of an unarmed black man one year ago
Authorities have declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted during protests overnight to mark the police shooting of an unarmed black man one year ago that ignited a national firestorm on race relations.
The order was issued for the St. Louis suburb and surrounding areas amid tensions 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 critical condition in a hospital, with four criminal counts, including “assault on law enforcement” and shooting at a motor vehicle. His bond was set at $250,000.
It's troubling that people can't exercise their rights b/c violent people want to disrupt peaceful protests. pic.twitter.com/XXYejUNCvt— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 10, 2015
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.
In Ferguson, a few merchants said they were ready to protect their businesses with firearms, while store owners pleaded for calm.
Dellena Jones, an owner of a Ferguson hair salon vandalized on Sunday night, boarded up a smashed window and had a sign displayed in a window still intact that read: “We Must Stop Killing Each Other.”
Activists call for civil disobedience
On a day of civil disobedience called by activists to protest the shooting of Brown and other unarmed black men across the United States by police, 57 people were arrested as they broke through barricades at a courthouse in St. Louis and blocked the entrance, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said.
Among those arrested was Princeton University professor and activist Cornel West, according to a protest organizer.
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 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.
Brown's death also prompted greater scrutiny of racial bias within the U.S. criminal justice system, giving rise to the “Black Lives Matter” movement that 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.
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