Antonio Martin shooting: Protesters back on the streets of St Louis after second police shooting

 

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The Independent US

St Louis was on edge again today after a shooting late on Tuesday of a black man at a petrol station in the suburb of Berkeley by a white police officer. The incident sparked new rounds of protests that began almost immediately and lasted into the early hours of Christmas Day.

Local officials in Berkeley were, however, straining to portray the incident as far different from the August killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, which unleashed angry protests at policing practices in Ferguson and beyond, widely seen as targeting black people.

In this case, police were called to a robbery at the petrol station on Tuesday evening. Officials insist the police officer who fired the shots only did so when the victim, identified as Antonio Martin, also 18 years old, took out a gun and gestured as if he was about to fire it. He was declared dead at the scene.

Berkeley is just two miles from Ferguson, also a suburb of St Louis that was home to Michael Brown. It was engulfed in protests last summer in the wake of his death and then again in November when a St Louis County grand jury concluded there was no reason to prosecute the officer who had killed him.

 

The Ferguson protests became a nationwide movement that has dominated American political conversation for months. It was further fuelled four weeks ago when a grand jury in New York declined to indict a police officer who took the life of a black man on Staten Island after restraining him in a stranglehold.

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Toni Martin-Green, whose son was killed, at a vigil (Reuters)

Even as anger at the police simmered in cities from coast to coast, however, there was widespread shock last weekend when a lone gunman stalked and assassinated two uniformed police officers in Brooklyn after posting social media messages about the killings in Ferguson and on Staten Island.

About 300 people converged on the petrol station in Berkeley after news of the death started to spread.

Leading the effort to distinguish the incident from the shooting of Mr Brown was the Mayor of Berkeley, Theodore Hoskins, himself an African American. “This is not a policeman in the city of Berkeley going out half-cocked,” he said. “You could not even compare this with Ferguson.”

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