• Saturday, December 20, 2014

Freedom in the air

National Guard sent to Missouri unrest

BBC Online
A protester reaches down to throw back a smoke canister as police clear a street after the passing of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters
A protester reaches down to throw back a smoke canister as police clear a street after the passing of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters

The US state of Missouri is sending the National Guard to the town of Ferguson as protests escalate over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Governor Jay Nixon signed an order to "help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson".

The decision was made as police clashed with angry crowds shortly before a second night under curfew began.

Police in Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, said they came under attack and had "no alternative" but to respond.

Capt Ron Johnson said protesters had thrown Molotov cocktails and bottles at security forces, and set up barricades before the five-hour curfew began at midnight (05:00 GMT).

"For those who would claim that the curfew was what led to [the] violence, I will remind you this incident began three and a half hours before the curfew was to have started," he told journalists in Ferguson on Monday.

The killing of Michael Brown by a white policeman in a street on 9 August has inflamed racial tensions in the largely black suburb.

Protesters gesture as they stand in a street in defiance of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Protesters gesture as they stand in a street in defiance of a midnight curfew meant to stem ongoing demonstrations in reaction to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Officer Darren Wilson shot the teenager after reportedly stopping him for walking in the street, disrupting traffic.

The governor of Missouri has criticised police for releasing CCTV footage which apparently shows Brown stealing some hours before his death.

Nixon said the release of the footage "appeared to cast aspersions" on the dead man, saying "it made emotions raw".

But he also condemned the protesters: "These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes."

A preliminary post-mortem examination by the St Louis County Medical Examiner's office on the day after Brown's death found he had been shot, police said, without disclosing how many times.

But a preliminary private post-mortem report has since revealed that he was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, the New York Times reports.

The bullets did not appear to have been fired from very close range due to the lack of gunpowder on the victim's body, forensic pathologist Michael Baden was quoted by the paper as saying.

He flew to Missouri on Sunday to conduct a separate autopsy at the request of the family.

Officials last week confirmed that the officer who shot Brown was a six-year police veteran with no previous complaints against him. He has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

Published: 10:35 am Monday, August 18, 2014

Last modified: 10:30 pm Monday, August 18, 2014

TAGS: USA Missouri curfew Ferguson Michael Brown

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