Protests spread across US over Ferguson ruling

Protests spread across US over Ferguson ruling

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 8:39 am

Protests in Chicago

Protests in Chicago

Protests spread across the United States late Monday over the explosive grand jury decision in Missouri against indicting a white cop who shot dead an unarmed black teen.

Angry people took to the streets from Seattle out west to Chicago in the middle and New York, the nation’s largest city, as the hotspot town of Ferguson, Missouri — where the decision was rendered — roiled with rioting.

Not long after President Barack Obama appealed for calm over the hotly awaited ruling in Missouri in the case of slain teen Michael Brown by white policeman Darren Wilson, several hundred people gathered in front of the White House.

They chanted slogans such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and waved banners saying “stop racist police terror” and “Justice for Mike Brown.”

That demonstration was peaceful, unlike violence that broke out in Ferguson itself in which a police car was torched, stores were looted and police fired tear gas to disperse angry black demonstrators.

The rally outside the White House dispersed after midnight but demonstrators headed elsewhere, possibly toward the US Capitol, the seat of Congress, AFP correspondents observed.

In New York City’s Times Square, several hundred people rallied carrying banners protesting “police tyranny.” Others had slogans saying “racism kills” and “no justice, no peace.”

Some people likened police to the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.

The police presence in New York City was heavy. A helicopter flew overhead. Another rally was held in the city’s Union Square.

New York City police chief Bill Bratton made an appearance at the Big Apple’s signature crossroads Times Square, where someone splashed him in the face with a red liquid.

Other protests were held in major cities such as Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. In Oakland, California, which has a large black community, protesters blocked a highway. But in these cities there were no immediate reports of violence.

In Ferguson itself, protesters set buildings ablaze and looted stores.

St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said Officer Darren Wilson had fired 12 times after getting into an “altercation” with Brown, and that the jury had found no grounds to file charges.

As McCulloch rounded off his summary of the grand jury’s decision, Brown’s mother burst into tears and the crowd began to chant: “Hey, hey, ho, ho! These killer cops have got to go.”

Members of an angry crowd outside the police station where Wilson had been threw bottles and stones. A police car was set alight and nearby stores looted.

Riot officers responded with teargas, batons and flash grenades, and running battles broke out in the streets of the St Louis suburb, with armored cars moving slowly through the area.

Looters smashed their way into a mobile phone store opposite the police headquarters and ransacked it. An AFP journalist was hurt when he was hit in the face by a hurled brick.

Pam Bailey, a retiree from St Louis in her 60s, said she had expected the decision. “I’ve lived long enough to know that African Americans are not considered human beings,” she said.

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