Four days have passed since a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen. The officer has placed an administrative leave after fatally shooting 18-year old Michael Brown. The officer’s identity has been put on hold due to death threats against the officer.
Protesters took to the sidewalks and streets, facing a row of police guarding the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office. “Hands up!” they chanted, their arms aloft. “Don’t shoot.” The hands-up- a sign of surrender and submission black men and boys here say they learn early on when dealing with police – has been transformed into a different kind of weapon. “If you’re angry, throw your arms up!” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who traveled to St. Louis in the wake of the death of Michael Brown. If you want justice, throw your arms up, because that’s the sign Michael was using. He had a surrender sign. That’s the sign you have to deal with. Use the sign he last showed. We want answers why that last sign was not respected.”
Since the shooting, stores have been looted, a gas station has been burnt, a Catholic’s charity’s window was smashed, teens have hurled rocks at cops and officers have launched tear gas. President Barack Obama also urged calm, saying people must comfort each other “in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
Benjamin Crump a lawyer representing Brown’s parents, has demanded that police identity the officer who shot Brown, but the Ferguson police chief, Tom Jackson declined to do so, citing death threats.
Brown was shot and killed by an officer on Saturday while according to a witness, he was running away with his hands up. Police say the shooting occurred after a struggle between Brown and a policeman the officer’s gun.
Investigators have released a few details, saying only that a scuffle unfolded after the officer asked Brown and another Teen to get out of the street. At some point, the officer’s weapon fired inside a patrol car, police said. The fullest account of Brown’s death so far has come from Dorian Johnson, who said he was walking home from a convenience store with Brown when they were approached by an officer in a squad car who, using expletives, ordered them to move to the sidewalk.
In the hours after the shooting, Johnson told news crews that he and Brown had kept walking and explained to the officer they were near their destination. The officer then reversed his car “to where it almost hit us.” The officer, Johnson said, tried to open his door, but he was so close to the men that it” Ricocheted” back.
Johnson said the officer then reached through the window, “grabbed my friend around the neck” and tried to pull him into the car. The officer then reportedly pulled out his weapon and said, “I’ll shoot you, or I’m going to shoot,” Johnson said. When the officer opened fire, Brown was hit and started to bleed, Johnson said.
Johnson ran to hide behind a car. Brown “kept running, and he told me to keep running because he feared for me, too, Johnson said.
Johnson said the officer pursued Brown with his weapon drawn and fired again. When Brown felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and started to get down on the ground. But the officer kept firing. Johnson said. “And my friend died. He didn’t say anything to him. He just stood over and he’s shooting.”
The Ferguson police force has 53 officers, three of whom are black. The city has had trouble recruiting and retaining black officers, according to Police Chief Jackson.