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Ferguson police arrest 47 as protest degenerates

By Agencies in Ferguson, Missouri | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-21 06:52

Three guns seized in latest rally over the police shooting of black teenager

Police said on Wednesday they arrested 47 people as tensions rose after an otherwise peaceful night of protests in Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb rocked by violence over the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Three guns were seized in the latest protest rally in Ferguson, which has become ground zero of a new national debate on police treatment of minorities after Michael Brown, 18, was shot Aug 9 by a white police officer.

 Ferguson police arrest 47 as protest degenerates

Demonstrators protest against the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday. The shooting of a black teenager by a white policeman has ignited more than a week of racially charged clashes in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Joshua Lott / Reuters

Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said protesters threw glass and plastic bottles of water and urine at police toward the end of Tuesday night's protest, prompting officers to intervene and make the arrests.

Johnson stressed that unlike a violent protest on Monday night, this time protesters did not fire guns at police, and officers refrained from using tear gas to break up the rally.

"Tonight we saw a different dynamic," he said.

He attributed this to a concerted effort by community leaders, activists and clergy to keep the rally peaceful and prevent it from being taken over by what he described as violent "agitators".

Meanwhile, a grand jury was to begin on Wednesday hearing witnesses to Brown's killing, amid calls for the police officer, Darren Wilson, to be put on trial for murder.

Meanwhile Brown's family was preparing for his funeral, which their lawyer said would take place on Monday.

In contrast to previous nights, rather than firing tear gas head-on into the crowd, police with riot shields and armored vehicles kept a lower profile.

'Criminal elements'

They finally intervened around midnight, pushing the remaining crowd toward a newly designated public assembly area in a former car dealership.

Mingling with citizens at the outset of the march, who insisted on their right to protest, Johnson - who is black and charged with restoring order in this mainly black town of 21,000 - denounced what he called "criminal elements" who, after dark on Sunday and Monday, had ignored police orders to disperse.

"Cowards hide in the dark, and it's time for that to stop," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, in nearby St. Louis, officers shot dead an agitated man who yelled "Kill me now!" as he rushed at them with a knife during an apparent convenience-store robbery.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Captain Ed Kuntz said an investigation had been launched, but, based on what he had heard, "it seems reasonable to say it was justifiable".

Murder charge

Police have identified the white police officer who shot Brown on a residential street as Darren Wilson, 28, a police officer for six years.

Brown's family wants Wilson - who reportedly has been granted leave from his duties - charged with murder for "executing" their son.

Police contended that Brown was rushing at the officer, but other witnesses said the teenager - who was about to start vocational college - had his hands up, ready to surrender.

AFP - Reuters

(China Daily 08/21/2014 page12)

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