Ferguson police accused of being ‘aggressive’

Local police and state troopers were out in force on the streets of Ferguson as protests continued. Picture: Getty

Local police and state troopers were out in force on the streets of Ferguson as protests continued. Picture: Getty

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POLICE arrested nearly two dozen people in Ferguson during a protest that stretched into early yesterday marking the anniversary of the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American by a white police officer, although there was no repeat of the violence that scarred weekend demonstrations.

There were no shots fired and no burglaries, looting or property damage during the protest, county police spokesman Shawn McGuire said. The St Louis suburb thoroughfare was the focus of months of massive protests and sometimes violent unrest last summer after the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, which sparked a nationwide protest movement and a fierce debate over how police treat minorities.

Police detained protesters during disturbances in Ferguson. Picture: Getty

Police detained protesters during disturbances in Ferguson. Picture: Getty

On Monday night, no smoke or tear gas was used, and no police or civilians reported injuries, Mr McGuire said. By 1 a.m., the crowd and police were heading home.

Mr McGuire said approximately 23 arrests were made.

Late on Sunday, a protest in the same area was interrupted by gunfire and a police shooting that left an 18-year-old suspect critically injured. The violence set Ferguson on edge and had protest leaders worried that tensions could escalate. St Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency that authorised county Police Chief Jon Belmar to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson.

On Monday night, hundreds of protesters were chanting, beating drums and carrying signs. When some in the group moved into a traffic lane, officers in riot gear forced people out of the street. Some demonstrators threw water bottles and other debris at officers. Protests also cropped up outside Ferguson. Almost 60 people, including scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West, were arrested around on Monday for blocking the entrance to the federal courthouse in St Louis. Another group later briefly blocked a highway during the afternoon rush hour, with 64 arrests, according to Mr McGuire.

Ferguson resident and military veteran Hershel Myers Jr., 46, criticised the police response as aggressive and unnecessary.

At the Sunday night demonstration, tensions escalated after several hundred people gathered in the street, ignoring repeated warnings to get to the pavement or face arrest. Several gunshots rang out from an area near a strip of stores, including some that had been looted moments earlier. The shots sent protesters and reporters running for cover.

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