President Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday that violence is undermining justice in Ferguson, Mo.
Charles Dharapak • Associated Press,
National Guard military police officers conferred with Missouri Highway Patrol officers at the police command center near Ferguson.
Whitney Curtis • New York Times,
Lethal details: Dr. Michael Baden, right, spoke Monday as Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump, left, held a diagram produced during a second autopsy done on 18-year-old Michael Brown. The independent autopsy authorized by the family showed that Brown was shot at least six times.
Jeff Roberson • Associated Press,
Protest In Atlanta: Protesters marched Monday in the rain in Atlanta during a rally in memory of Michael Brown, who was shot by police in Ferguson, Mo.. More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered, chanting, “No justice, no peace,” while others proclaimed, “I am Mike Brown.”
David Goldman • Associated Press,
Obama calls for calm as protests continue in Missouri
- Article by: Monica Davey, John Eligon and Alan Blinder
- New York Times
- August 18, 2014 - 10:40 PM
FERGUSON, Mo. – Missouri National Guard troops entered this battered city Monday even as an overnight curfew was lifted, the latest in a series of quickly shifting attempts to quell the violence that has upended Ferguson for 10 days.
In the days since a black teenager was shot to death by a white police officer Aug. 9, an array of state and local law enforcement authorities have swerved from one approach to another: taking to the streets in military-style vehicles and riot gear; then turning over power to a state Highway Patrol official who permitted the protests and marched along, then calling again for a curfew.
Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday he was calling in the National Guard. Hours later, he said he was lifting the curfew and said the Guard would have a limited role.
“While I understand the passions and anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown,” President Obama said in Washington, “giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions.”
The president said that Attorney General Eric Holder would go to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with FBI agents conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
Obama said he had told the governor in a phone call on Monday that the Guard should be “used in a limited and appropriate way.”
He said he would be closely monitoring the deployment.
“I’ll be watching over the next several days to assess whether in fact it’s helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson,” said Obama, who emphasized that the state of Missouri, not the White House, had called in the Guard.
Before dark, along West Florissant Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares and a center of the weeklong protests, scores of people marched peacefully, carrying signs and chanting. Officers herded some into a parking lot, where the police said protest was permitted.
A few blocks away, at the police command post, National Guard members, dressed in fatigues, some with military police patches on their uniforms, rolled up in buses and military vehicles.
Residents seemed puzzled and frustrated by the continuously changing approaches, suggesting that the moving set of rules were only serving to worsen long-standing tensions about policing and race.
“It almost seems like they can’t decide what to do, and like law enforcement is fighting over who’s got the power,” said Antione Watson, 37, who stood near a middle-of-the-street memorial of candles and flowers for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old killed here.
“First they do this, then there’s that, and now who can even tell what their plan is?” Watson said. “They can try all of this, but I don’t see an end to this until there are charges against the cop.”
Changes after tense night
The latest turn in law enforcement tactics — the removal of a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew imposed Saturday and the arrival of the Guard — followed one of the tensest nights in Ferguson so far. Police officers reported incoming gunfire and firebombs from protesters and responded with tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets.
By Monday, the police seemed intent on taking control of the situation long before evening and the expected arrival of protesters, some of them inclined to provoke clashes. The authorities banned stationary protests, even during the day, ordering demonstrators to continue walking, particularly in an area along West Florissant, not far from where the shooting occurred. One of those told to move along was civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Six members of the Highway Patrol, plastic flex-ties within easy reach, stood guard at a barbecue restaurant that has been a hub of the turmoil. Just north of the restaurant, about 30 officers surrounded a convenience store that was damaged early in the unrest.
Several people were arrested, including a photographer for Getty Images, Scott Olson, who was led away in plastic handcuffs in the early evening and later released.
Brown is now the subject of three separate autopsies. The first was conducted by St. Louis County, the results of which were delivered to the county prosecutor’s office Monday but not made public. Another, on Monday, was done by a military doctor as part of the Justice Department’s investigation.
On Sunday, at the request of Brown’s family, the body was examined by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner.
The findings showed that he was shot six times from the front and that he did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no powder burns were found on his body. That determination could change if burns were found on his clothing, which was unavailable.
Trying to surrender
At a news conference Monday, family members and Baden said that the autopsy confirmed witness accounts that Brown was trying to surrender when he was killed.
Daryl Parks, a lawyer for the family, said the autopsy proved that the officer should have been arrested. The bullet that killed Brown entered the top of his head and came out at an angle that suggested he was facing downward, Parks said.
What the autopsy did not show was what Brown was doing at that moment.
“Why would he be shot in the very top of his head, a 6 foot 4 man?” he said. “That’s why we believe that those two things alone are ample for this officer to be arrested.”
Piaget Crenshaw, who witnessed Brown’s death from her nearby apartment, seemed unsurprised by the eruptions of anger, which left schools closed and businesses looted.
“This community had underlying problems way before this happened,” Crenshaw said. “And now the tension is finally broken.”
© 2014 Star Tribune