Last night, police used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse protesters, some of whom threw Molotov cocktails and other objects at officers. This might sound like something that would occur in a country like Ukraine, but no, it’s actually going on in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in response to a fifth night of demonstrations over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer. Protesters faced heavily armed police who occasionally trained automatic weapons on them from an armored truck. After nightfall, the situation had deteriorated, with police ordering demonstrators to go home before using smoke bombs and tear gas. So far, there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that police inched forward to disperse the protesters into small groups pushed down side streets; some people were unable to get to their homes. Earlier in the evening, two reporters, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post, were arrested after police officers tried to clear a McDonald’s. After being detained, the two reporters were released without any charges. Both newspapers spoke out against the incident, saying the the officers’ actions were completely unjustified.
The incidents in Missouri are in response to the fatal shooting of the unarmed 18 year-old Michael Brown last Saturday. Police officers claim that the incident occurred after Brown and a friend got into a scuffle with the police and tried to grab an officer’s weapon. Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when the shooting occurred, tells a very different story, claiming that the policemen tried to force Brown into his car, and when Brown tried to run, the officer ran after him and shot him multiple times. Both Johnson and another witness say that Brown was on the street with his hands raised when the officer repeatedly fired at him. As the protesters faced the police on Wednesday, some of them raised their arms above their heads. The most popular chant of the protests has been, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s shooting, the notorious hacking collective Anonymous burrowed into the city’s website and shut it down for most of the day Monday. They also released what it claimed to be audio experts from St. Louis County dispatch on the day Brown was killed. Authorities have resisted calls to identify the officer who shot Brown, fearing retribution, and claim that there is no police security video of the confrontation.