December 5, 2021

Ferguson burns in aftermath of grand jury decision NOT to indict cop Darren Wilson for killing black teen Michael Brown

POLICE CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON

  • A grand jury decided not to charge Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson over the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown this past summer
  • Wilson shot dead unarmed Brown on August 9, and evidence released after the decision shows he was pursuing the teen in connection to a convenience-store robbery
  • Brown’s family said they were ‘profoundlydisappointed’ with the decision, while calling for peaceful protests 
  • Ferguson protesters turned violent throwing rocks, looting businesses and setting cars and buildings on fire
  • Police said disturbances in Ferguson ‘much worse’ than those that erupted in aftermath of the shooting
  • More than a dozen local businesses were set on fire including a storage center, Walgreens and pizza shop
  • 150 live gunshots were heard, with reports suggesting police officers were being targeted by rioters
  • Missouri cop was shot amid the violent protests and is in an unknown condition
  • There were 61 arrests in Ferguson overnight and 21 arrests in St Louis, according to the police 
  • Demonstrators close down three New York bridges as peaceful protests occur in 90 cities across the U.S

By Jill Reilly and Louise Boyle and Ashley Collman and David Martokso, U.s Political Editor, MailOnline and Dan Bates In Ferguson, Missouri for MailOnline

Published: 21:26 EST, 24 November 2014 | Updated: 09:46 EST, 25 November 2014

Enraged protesters set fire to buildings and cars and looted businesses in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer over the death of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting exposed deep racial tensions between African-Americans and police.

Violence flared after the decision was announced by St Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch at around 8:25pm on Monday evening, and continued throughout the evening and into early Tuesday morning.

President Barack Obama and the family of Michael Brown asked for calm. As Obama spoke live from the White House briefing room, television networks showed him on one side of the screen, and violent demonstrations in Ferguson on the other.

Angry crowds took to the streets around the Ferguson Police headquarters after the grand jury determined there was no probable cause to charge Wilson with any crime for the shooting of 18-year-old Brown this past summer.

St Louis police reported that rioters fired 150 live gunshots and more than a dozen local businesses were razed to the ground by arsonists. Some reports say that fire fighters have been tackling up to 25 structural fires caused by rioters.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that the disturbances this time were ‘much worse’ than those that erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

There were 61 arrests in Ferguson overnight, many for burglary and trespassing, St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said there were 21 arrests in the city, where some protesters broke business windows along South Grand Avenue. Police said they have not fired any shots.

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Celebration: Protestors parade in the parking lot of a burning auto parts store in Ferguson following the grand jury decision
Celebration: Protestors parade in the parking lot of a burning auto parts store in Ferguson following the grand jury decision

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Police said that up to 25 structures were razed by rioters in Ferguson. There were 80 arrests in the suburb and in the city of St Louis
Police said that up to 25 structures were razed by rioters in Ferguson. There were 80 arrests in the suburb and in the city of St Louis

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Flames: A local storage facility is set ablaze in Ferguson during disturbances that saw 150 live gunshots fired, according to police
Flames: A local storage facility is set ablaze in Ferguson during disturbances that saw 150 live gunshots fired, according to police

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Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer
Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer
Up in flames: Police in riot gear stand near a burning car on a street in Ferguson on Monday. Moments after the announcement by St. Louis County's top prosecutor, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision
Up in flames: Police in riot gear stand near a burning car on a street in Ferguson on Monday. Moments after the announcement by St. Louis County’s top prosecutor, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision
Police arrive at a business Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo., as cars in a parking lot next to the building burn. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Heavily armed police arrive at a business in Dellwood, a neighbouring suburb to Ferguson, as cars in a parking lot next to the building burn
Confrontation: A police officer aims his non-lethal shotgun at protestors in Ferguson
Confrontation: A police officer aims his non-lethal shotgun at protestors in Ferguson
Preparation: Police put on their gas masks after chasing off looters from a business in Ferguson
Preparation: Police put on their gas masks after chasing off looters from a business in Ferguson
Opportunist: Looters run from a gas station as police arrive during the rioting in a heavily armored SWAT vehicle
Opportunist: Looters run from a gas station as police arrive during the rioting in a heavily armored SWAT vehicle
Crackdown: Police dismount from a vehicle as they chase looters away from a business in Ferguson
Crackdown: Police dismount from a vehicle as they chase looters away from a business in Ferguson
Taking stock: Concerned business owners survey damage suffered during rioting in Ferguson
Taking stock: Concerned business owners survey damage suffered during rioting in Ferguson
Raid: Looters smashed their way into a local Ferguson business and helped themselves to products that it sold
Raid: Looters smashed their way into a local Ferguson business and helped themselves to products that it sold
Out of control: Police in riot gear move past a vehicle that continues to burn on the street in Ferguson
Out of control: Police in riot gear move past a vehicle that continues to burn on the street in Ferguson
Fearsome: A demonstrator flashes a peace sign before a burning police car during clashes between police and protesters over the decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown
Fearsome: A demonstrator flashes a peace sign before a burning police car during clashes between police and protesters over the decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown
Patrol: A police officer and his service dog walk past an auto parts store set ablaze by protestors in Ferguson
Patrol: A police officer and his service dog walk past an auto parts store set ablaze by protestors in Ferguson
So far during the Ferguson protests there have been 29 arrests, 13 injuries – and no fatalities, with police saying they have not fired any shots
So far during the Ferguson protests there have been 29 arrests, 13 injuries – and no fatalities, with police saying they have not fired any shots
Pizza: Firefighters work on extinguishing the burning Little Ceasar's restaurant in Ferguson on Monday night. Some protestors taunted police, broke windows and vandalized cars
Pizza: Firefighters work on extinguishing the burning Little Ceasar’s restaurant in Ferguson on Monday night. Some protestors taunted police, broke windows and vandalized cars
Race: A firefighter walks past the burning Little Ceasars restaurant in Ferguson on Monday. Within a few hours, several large buildings were ablaze, and frequent gunfire was heard
Race: A firefighter walks past the burning Little Ceasars restaurant in Ferguson on Monday. Within a few hours, several large buildings were ablaze, and frequent gunfire was heard
Chaos: Police ride on a vehicle past a burning building that was set ablaze by protestors in Ferguson
Chaos: Police ride on a vehicle past a burning building that was set ablaze by protestors in Ferguson
Blaze: Police warned protesters Monday night to stay away from burning police cars which contain live ammunition. Officers used tear gas to try to disperse some of the gatherings
Blaze: Police warned protesters Monday night to stay away from burning police cars which contain live ammunition. Officers used tear gas to try to disperse some of the gatherings
A car burns on the street after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on November 24
A car burns on the street after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on November 24
Ferguson in flames: Helicopter footage shows buildings alight

About 10 St. Louis-bound flights were diverted or canceled Monday night because of concern about gunfire being aimed into the sky, a Lambert-St. Louis International Airport spokesman said, but the restrictions expired at 3:30 a.m.

After three months of waiting for the controversial verdict, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, collapsed in grief as it was announced, screaming ‘This is wrong!’

The victim’s stepfather screamed ‘Burn this b**** down’. Meanwhile, Wilson’s attorneys issued a statement in which he thanked ‘those who have stood by his side throughout the process’.

Within minutes of the announcement by the county’s top prosecutor, crowds began pouring into Ferguson streets to protest the decision. Some taunted police, shattered windows and vandalized cars. Several gunshots were also heard. Officers released tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the gatherings.

Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch said the jury of nine whites and three black jury members met on 25 separate days and heard more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses, including three medical examiners and other experts on blood, toxicology and firearms.

He stressed that jurors were ‘the only people who heard every witness … and every piece of evidence’. He said many witnesses presented conflicting statements that were inconsistent with the physical evidence. ‘These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process,’ he said.

McCulloch pointed out that many early reports in the incident were found not to be true by the official investigation, such as the report that officer Wilson stood over Brown’s body and fired the fatal shots into his back. The autopsy revealed that Wilson shot Brown to death as the young man walked towards him.

After months of reviewing the evidence, the seven men and five women on the grand jury decided not to bring up any of a handful of possible charges against Wilson, which included first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

As McCulloch was reading his statement, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was sitting atop a vehicle listening to a broadcast of the announcement.

She put her face in her hands and sobbed violently.  Seconds before she had said: ‘This is wrong!

‘Everybody want me to be calm but you know how them bullets hit my son.

‘Ain’t nobody had to live through what I had to live through.

‘Why? They (pointing at the police) ain’t never gonna care.’

Brown’s step-father Louis Head jumped up and down as he erupted in rage and said: ‘Burn this b**** down! Burn this b**** down!’

Minutes earlier as Ms McSpadden listened to the decision being read out she shouted: ‘What was he (Wilson) defending himself from?

‘Some of you motherf****** think this is a joke!’

The family released a statement saying they were ‘disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions’. Earlier in the day, the family asked for 4.5 minutes of silence following the verdict and peaceful protests – no matter what the decision.

The crowd with Ms McSpadden erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with objects, including a bullhorn. Officers stood their ground.

The violent protesters went on to damage cars, as well as start fires and loot local businesses. As of early Tuesday morning, more than a dozen local businesses were burning down including a storage center, meat market and Lille Caesars pizza shop.

A few rioters used the chaos as a opportunity to loot local shots, and were pictured fleeing with stolen goods from a liquor store and Toys R Us.

Others congregated and marched shouting ‘Hands up, don’t shoot. No justice, no peace’.

About 400 protesters outside the Ferguson police station became panicked after hearing rapid gunfire down the road.

Protesters tried to flip a police SUV then ran through parked cars smashing windows indiscriminately. They smashed the windows of two restaurants and threw rocks at police in full riot gear. A group was reportedly trying to break into City Hall.

Officers in riot gear responded early on by ordering the crowds to disperse, saying they were blocking the road and gathering illegally.

When the protesters did not comply, police reacted by shooting bean bag rounds, stun grenades and tear gas into the crowds.

Police initially said the canisters thrown into the crowd were just smoke, and not tear gas, but CNN reporters appeared to be struggling to breathe after coming into contact with the exhaust. The police later corrected their statement, saying they indeed had fired tear gas.

The FAA designated a no-fly zone over Ferguson.  Agency sources told MailOnline that the directive was issued because of rounds being fired in the air.

President Barack Obama  held a press conference shortly after the news was announced to calm tensions in Ferguson, saying violence was not the answer.

‘We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make,’ the president said, adding that he stood with the Brown family in calling for peaceful protests.

However, Mr Obama went on to admit that the highly-public investigation showed there are issues that need to be fixed between police and residents in predominantly black communities like Ferguson.

‘There are still issues, and communities of color are not making these things up…These are real issues,’ the president said.

However, he added that a solution would not be found in violence.

‘That won’t be done by throwing bottles, by smashing car windows or using this as an excuse to vandalize property, and it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody,’ the president said.

Brown’s family have said that the teen was trying to surrender when the officer shot him while Wilson’s supporters said that he was acting in self-defense.

However, Wilson claimed that Brown was much more aggressive and that he taunted him, saying: ‘You’re too much of a f****** p**** to shoot me’. County prosecutor McCulloch also said that Wilson was indeed trying to apprehend Brown in connection to a convenience store robbery.

Recounting how he shot six bullets into his body, Wilson said: ‘One of those, however many of them, hit him in the head, and he went down right there.’

In his police interview released as part of the Grand Jury evidence, Wilson said that he was completely calm at the start of the incident as he stopped Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson as they walked along the street in Ferguson, Missouri. Pictures were also released with the evidence, showing Wilson’s minor injuries in the fight with Brown, including some bruising to his face and neck.

Wilson claims he told the pair: ‘Hey guys, why don’t you walk on the sidewalk?’ to which they replied they were nearly home.

‘Okay, but what’s wrong with the sidewalk?’ to which Johnson replied: ‘F*** what you have to say’.

Wilson drove off and then drove back to speak to them at which point Brown suddenly punched him and they got into a struggle as he tried to get out of his police SUV.

Wilson said he reached for his gun and said: ‘Stop I’m going to shoot’ to which Brown replied: ‘You’re too much of a f****** p**** too shoot me’.

The interview was carried out by an unnamed detective the day after the shooting at the St Louis County Police Headquarters.

Recounting the moment he killed Brown, Wilson said: ‘I was yelling at him to stop and get on the ground.

‘He kept running and then he stopped in this area somewhere. When he stopped he turned, looked at me, made a grunting noise and had the most intense aggressive face I’ve ever seen on a person.

‘When he looked at me he then did like the hop…you know when people do to start running. And he started running at me. During his first stride he took his right hand and put it under his shirt and into his waistband.

‘And I ordered him to stop and get on the ground again. He didn’t. I fired a multiple shots.

‘After I fired the multiple shots I paused for a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again, he was still in the same state.

‘Still charging hands, still in his waistband, still hadn’t slowed down.

‘I fired another set of shots. Same thing, still running at me, hadn’t slowed down, hands still in his waistband.

‘He gets about eight to ten feet away, he’s still coming at me in the same way.

‘One of those, however many of them, hit him in the head, and he went down right there.

‘When he went down his hand was still under his, his right hand was still under his body, looked like it was still in his waistband. I never touched him.’

At a later part of the interview Wilson went over the final moments again and described Brown as ‘very aggressive’.

He said: ‘I don’t really know how to describe it. Um, he turns, I look at his face. It was just like intense. It was.

‘I’ve never seen anybody look like that, for lack of a better words, crazy. I’ve never seen that.

‘It was very aggravated, um, aggressive, hostile. You could tell he was lookin’ through ya. There was nothing he was seeing.’

Wilson’s account is in contrast with that of several eyewitnesses and Brown’s companion, Dorian Johnson.

The friend claimed that the unarmed teen had his hands up, or by his side, and begged the officer ‘Stop shooting.’

Before the verdict was announced, groups from across the country have said they would demonstrate in large numbers if charges were not brought – prompting local police to draw up contingency plans over fears of violence.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged police to show restraint in dealing with any protests that may follow the decision on whether to indict Wilson.

There have been reports that a militant group is offering a cash reward for anyone who can give them the location of Wilson.

The group, describing itself as a ‘Militant Resistance to a corrupt police state’, has offered $5,000 for details of the Ferguson police officer’s whereabouts.

Tensions have simmered for months in the St Louis suburb over a case that has become a flashpoint for U.S. race relations.

Police in riot gear arrested three people in Sunday night protests that led to scuffles, St. Louis County police said on Monday. Authorities said they doused one demonstrator with pepper-spray for resisting arrest.

On Sunday, the teen’s father, Michael Brown Sr., made a public service announcement appealing for calm and non-violence among protesters, saying that ‘hurting others is not the answer’.

Mr Brown said: ‘No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.

‘I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St Louis region better for everyone.’

However the father made it clear that there is still more work to be done.

He said: ‘Continue to lift your voices with us and lets work together to heal and to create lasting change for all people regardless of race.’

He also thanked many of the protesters for ‘lifting [their] voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation’.

On Thursday, reports revealed that Officer Wilson had said he felt ‘confident’ he would not charged by the grand jury and was working with city officials to negotiate his resignation from the Ferguson Police Department.

It emerged on Monday that the 28-year-old officer had gotten married last month to a fellow Ferguson cop, 37-year-old Officer Barbara Spradling.

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, said he met with Wilson, who has not been seen since the shooting.

‘It’s fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment,’ Roorda said.

The nearby Jennings School District said it would close on Monday and Tuesday due to the possibility of unrest in neighboring Ferguson.

The district was already scheduled to be closed the rest of the week for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Ferguson-Florrisant school district announced late on Monday that it was planning to close schools on Tuesday, along with all after-school and evening activities.

Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied in cities across the US including Los Angeles and New York to passionately but peacefully protest over the grand jury decision.

They led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’, the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the US.

The most disruptive demonstrations were in the St Louis area and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling around stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

Activists had been planning to protest even before the night-time announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged over the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities far from the predominantly black St Louis suburb.

Police departments in several major cities were braced for large demonstrations with the potential for the kind of violence that marred nightly protests in Ferguson after Mr Brown’s killing.

But police elsewhere reported that gatherings were mostly peaceful following the court announcement.

As the night wore on, dozens of protesters in Oakland got past police and blocked traffic on an interstate highway. Police were able to corral the protesters and cleared the highway in one area, but another group soon entered the traffic lanes a short distance away. Police did not immediately report any arrests.

A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down an interstate highway for a time. A few cars got stuck in the middle of the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ and ‘Black lives matter.’

In Seattle, marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic before moving on, as dozens of police officers watched.

Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Washington, where people held up signs and chanted ‘Justice for Michael Brown’ outside the White House.

Traffic on New York City bridges was reportedly shut down as demonstrators marched in traffic lanes over the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Triboro bridges.

A line of NYPD officers attempted to push protesters off the RFK/Triboro Bridge, with reports that cops were threatening to arrest protesters around 1:25 AM early Tuesday.

Several thousand more people had marched from Union Square to Times Square to protest. Crowds had gathered on the plaza on Monday evening awaiting the decision, but once it was announced protesters mobilized and began marching north.

The family of Eric Garner, a black man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem, lamenting the grand jury’s decision.

In Los Angeles, which was rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officers were told to remain on duty until released by their supervisors. About 100 people gathered in Leimert Park, and a group of religious leaders held a small news conference demanding changes in police policies.

A group of about 200 demonstrators marched towards the city centre.

The marchers briefly shut down an interstate highway in central Los Angeles late last night. California Highway Patrol officers declared an unlawful assembly.

After midnight, about 100 police officers wearing riot gear fired hard foam projectiles into the ground to disperse about 50 protesters in central Los Angeles.

Another splinter group of about 30 people marched all the way to Beverly Hills, where they lay down in an intersection.

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