Peaceful protests organized in response to the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police turned chaotic Sunday night when stores were ransacked, cars vandalized and many arrested by police who responded to the scene.
Brown, who was to begin college on Monday, was shot multiple times by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. He was unarmed.
From St. Louis Today:
While some people prayed, others spilled onto West Florissant Avenue, choking off traffic. Looting was reported at a QuikTrip at 9420 West Florissant Avenue about 9 p.m. and soon spread from there. Most of the businesses being targeted were mainly along West Florissant.
Around 11 p.m., looters smashed into a Wal-Mart in the area near Interstate 270, as well as cell phone, clothing and dollar stores. A large fire was burning at West Florissant and Northwinds Estates Drive. A civilian was reported beaten near West Florissant and Chambers.
Video from the Associated Press reportedly shows residents in Ferguson, a town right outside of St. Louis, looting from local stores:
Despite the chaos, however, many residents outraged by the shooting of the 18-year-old at the hands of law enforcement continued their peaceful demonstrations, gathering in front of the Ferguson police station to call for thorough investigation into the shooting.
State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, said of the gathering in front of the Ferguson police station: “This demonstration has to happen to release all the negative energy people are feeling on the inside. And we are doing it peacefully.”
A spokesperson for Eric Holder said the Attorney General has asked civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department to monitor the case. In the meantime, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar promised an investigation into the shooting.
A motive for the shooting remains unclear, though authorities say a struggle with the police officer led to the shooting. Witnesses, however, say the teen had his hands in the air when he was shot multiple times.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Dorin Johnson, a friend of the victim, told Fox 2 that he was walking in the street with Brown when the police squad car pulled up. The officer said to “Get the eff onto the sidewalk,” he recounted.
“It was not but a minute from our destination and we would be off the street,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the officer didn’t get out of his police car, but “reach[ed] his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around the neck.”
“I witnessed the police chase after the guy, full force,” Piaget Crenshaw said. “He ran for his life. They shot him and he fell. He put his arms up to let them know that he was compliant and he was unarmed and they shot him twice more and he fell to the ground and died.”
Brown’s family has since hired Benjamin Crump, the national civil rights attorney who represented the family of Trayvon Martin. In addition, the “hacktavist” group Anonymous has also threatened to release information about Ferguson police in the wake of the fatal shooting.
“The entire global collective of Anonymous is outraged at this cold-blooded murder of a young teen,” the group said in a video they released to demand justice for Brown’s family.
You can watch that video below: