St. Louis suburb smolders after racially charged riots -UPDATED

At least a dozen buildings were set on fire in Ferguson, Missouri, most of them destroyed, in a wave of civil unrest following a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in August

St. Louis suburb smolders after racially charged riots -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Schools closed in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri and demonstrations were planned on Tuesday outside the courthouse where a grand jury cleared a white police officer in the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teen, sparking violent protests.

About a dozen buildings in Ferguson burned overnight and police fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters at protesters, said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar Sixty-one people were also arrested, police added.

Although no serious injuries were reported, Belmar said the rioting on Monday night and early Tuesday morning was "much worse" than disturbances which erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

Protests were also staged on Monday night in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C., over a case that has highlighted long-standing racial tensions not just in predominantly black Ferguson but across the United States.

Schools in Ferguson and its surrounding cities said they planned not to open on Tuesday. Protesters planned to demonstrate on Tuesday outside the courthouse in Clayton, Missouri, where the grand jury sat.

The rioting came despite calls for calm from officials ranging from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to President Barack Obama. Activist leaders had spent weeks training protesters in nonviolent civil disobedience techniques and police had also been through conflict de-escalation training, though tempers flared after crowds threw bricks and police and set patrol cars on fire following the grand jury's decision.

Officials disclosed that ruling well after sunset and hours after saying it was coming, a set of circumstances that led to protesters taking to the streets well after dark.

"I didn't see a lot of peaceful protests out there," Belmar said, adding that the rioting was "probably much worse than the worst night" of demonstrations in August following Brown's death.

"Unfortunately, this spun out of control," said Belmar.

St. Louis police reported heavy gunfire late on Monday in the area near where Brown was slain, but Belmar said officers did not fire a shot, even after they were pelted with rocks, bottles, batteries and other debris.

In other developments, authorities released Wilson's testimony in which he recounts how the confrontation with Brown occured.

He told the grand jury that he feared Brown could beat him to death as the teen started punching him in the face after being identified as a possible suspect in a theft incident.

"As he is coming towards me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn't. I shoot a series of shots. I don't know how many I shot, I just know I shot it," he testified according to the documents.

He said his main goal was to arrest him and "to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there."

More than 1,000 people gathered Monday night in front of the White House to protest a Missouri grand jury's decision not to prosecute a white police officer for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in the city of Ferguson.

Holding up signs reading "No justice, no peace" and "Black lives matter," the protesters walked towards the Congress buildings, watched by Washington police.

The crowd in front of the White House, the presidential residence and office building, was made up mostly of teenagers. They said the protests would continue.

Michael Brown's family expressed their "profound disappointment" at the decision.

"While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen," they said in a statement urging demonstrators to keep protests peaceful.

President Barack Obama urged demonstrators to heed Brown's parents call. "Michael Brown's parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes," he said.

"We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation," he said in a televised address following the announcement. "The fact is, in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color."

Obama said that grievances in communities of color had to be understood and addressed.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Brown's death "has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve."

"While constructive efforts are underway in Ferguson and communities nationwide, far more must be done to create enduring trust," he said in a statement stressing that the Justice Department is continuing its own investigation into allegations over whether the Ferguson Police Department has been involved in "unconstitutional policing patterns or practices."

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard were in the area to provide security at critical facilities, including police stations, in order to help law enforcement officers. He had declared a state of emergency last week.

The region had been preparing for the announcement since last week, amid fears that the clashes previously seen on the streets of Ferguson could return should the jurors fail to issue an indictment against Wilson.

Last Mod: 29 Kasım 2014, 15:32
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