Ferguson: Scenes of chaos on the streets as protests over Michael Brown shooting continue

It was clear that the police were again at a loss over how to deal with the unrest

Ferguson, Missouri

An evening of mostly peaceful protest on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, dissolved once again into pandemonium in the early hours of today. Scores of heavily armed police in riot gear repeatedly gave chase to youths: some of whom attempted to escape the onslaught by mingling with journalists and camera crews.

What appeared to be an effort by the commanders to send small tactical groups into the crowd to pick out those identified as troublemakers resulted in scenes of chaos, not least because of the difficulty of getting around members of the media who themselves were ordered over and over either to move, stand still or go to different spot.

The night was arguably less ugly than several before it in part because no tear gas was fired. The police made multiple arrests, however.

But it was also clear that they were again at a loss over how to deal with the unrest now in its second week and triggered by the shooting of teenager Michael Brown on 9 August by a local police officer.

"You have got to help us," said Captain Ron Johnson, the State Trooper who took charge of security in Ferguson at the end of last week amid hopes he would restore calm.

To whom he was talking was not clear, but it was most likely to the media whose presence clearly complicated the landscape for the police. 

Video: The latest from Ferguson

Indeed, several members of the media covering Tuesday night’s demonstrations said that they had felt intimidated by some among the crowds, both youths and others who appeared to be self-appointed "peacekeepers" who yelled at them to leave and made other threats.

"All they want is a circus," one man scolded.  It meanwhile appeared that at least one of those arrested was a journalist, brought down hard by police officers immediately next to this reporter.

Even until midnight, it had seemed to many that the fever of the last several nights might have broken and the demonstrations might pass at last without incident or clashes. 

One trio of young men even joined the marchers aboard a Thomas the Tank Engine toy with "Peace Train" pasted to its back and blaring tracks from Marvin Gaye's "What’s Going On?" and "Makes me want to Holler": both originally Vietnam War protest tracks.

All it took, however, was one plastic water bottle, flung from the crowd into the police. Helicopters with lights on swooped down, SWAT trucks rolled in and suddenly a large phalanx of police plunged into a strip mall car park, intent on grabbing several young men in face masks. 

“Don’t let them shoot us,” one pleaded to scattering reporters. 

The fresh unrest came on the eve of a visit to Ferguson today by Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, who will meet with local law enforcement officers to discuss both the local and federal probes already under way into the shooting of the teen.

Sign reads: 'My blackness is not a weapon' Sign reads: 'My blackness is not a weapon' Mr Holder is also believed to be opening a second, broader investigation into the tactics on this and other occasions of the Ferguson police department to see whether there is a more general issue with racial bias.

Today also is expected to see a first secret meeting of grand jury in St Louis to begin sifting through the evidence in the case, specifically to see whether any charges against the officer who fired the shots, Darren Wilson, 28, should be filed. 

Demands for the officer’s arrest have been made many of the protestors and the family of Mr Brown. However, the grand jury may take weeks to consider all the evidence and reach a decision.

Likely to hamper both the grand jury’s deliberations and the already ongoing federal investigation are sharply different versions of what happened when the boy was shot offered by different witnesses. 

Two autopsies have now shown that Mr Brown was struck by six bullets. But critical now is determining whether some of those were fired when he was in a posture of surrender to the officer, as some have claimed, or not.

Police said he reached for Wilson’s gun during an altercation inside a police car; witnesses insisted Mr Brown had his hands up when he was shot. A preliminary private autopsy was conducted on Sunday at the Brown family’s request by Dr Michael Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York.

Anthony Gray, a lawyer representing the family, said the trajectory of one of the two bullets that struck Mr Brown in the head was particularly noteworthy. “To have a shot that’s at a 90-degree angle from the top of his skull to the bottom of his chin, almost vertical, that sounds like an officer standing over him,” Gray said.

The Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, late Tuesday night issued a statement emphasising the need for findings to be reached as soon as possible so peace can be restored.

“The democratically elected St. Louis County prosecutor and the attorney general of the United States each have a job to do,” Mr. Nixon said. “Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly and correctly, and I call upon them to meet those expectations.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there