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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson shooting: National Guard called in after night of riots

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Missouri's governor has ordered hundreds more National Guard troops to the St. Louis suburb rocked by rioting after a white policeman was cleared in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, while the local mayor said the governor did not do enough to protect businesses from looting.

Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot to death in Ferguson by officer Darren Wilson in August, condemned as biased the grand jury process that led to Monday's decision not to bring criminal charges against Wilson.

The killing in Ferguson, a predominantly black city with a white-dominated power structure, underscores the sometimes tense nature of US race relations.

Violent protests and looting flared after the St. Louis County grand jury's decision, with Governor Jay Nixon calling the resulting damage "heartbreaking."

About a dozen Ferguson buildings burned overnight and 61 people were arrested on charges including burglary, illegal weapons possession and unlawful assembly, police said. Police said protesters fired guns at them, lit patrol cars on fire and hurled bricks into their lines. Police fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters at protesters.

"Lives and property must be protected. This community deserves to have peace," Nixon told a news conference, saying about 700 guard troops were deployed on Monday and hundreds more will be out this evening to protect homes and businesses. He said there are more than 2,200 guardsmen now in the region.

"We must do better and we will," Nixon said.

Criticizing the governor's response to the unrest, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the National Guard "was not deployed in enough time to save all of our businesses."

"The decision to delay the deployment of the National Guard is deeply concerning," Knowles told a news conference. "We are asking that the governor make available and deploy all necessary resources to prevent the further destruction of property and the preservation of life in the city of Ferguson."

The unrest came despite calls by President Barack Obama and others for police and protesters to exercise restraint. Police had been preparing for months but admitted they were overtaken by the violent events that unfolded.

The grand jury decision also shifted the legal spotlight to the ongoing US Justice Department investigation into whether Wilson violated Brown's civil rights by intentionally using excessive force and whether Ferguson police systematically violate people's rights by using excessive force or discrimination.

Obama was briefed about the situation in Ferguson by Attorney General Eric Holder, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

A day after the grand jury's decision, protests were held in major US cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington.

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Tags:  Ferguson  Missouri  police  grand jury  riots  violence  national guard  US  World  





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