Two Police Officers Shot during Ferguson, Missouri, Protest

Kate Munsch, Reuters, March 12, 2015

Two police officers were shot and wounded during a protest rally in Ferguson, Missouri, early on Thursday, hours after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing U.S. Justice Department report finding his force was rife with racial bias.

The shooting of the officers, who were in serious condition at a local hospital, comes after months of turmoil in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, triggered in August by the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman.


On Thursday, a manhunt was underway after the two officers were hit by gunfire outside the Ferguson police headquarters during a protest rally staged hours after the resignation of Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

The two officers who were shot were not part of the Ferguson force, which is almost entirely white, while the majority of the city’s residents are African-American.

A 41-year-old officer from the St. Louis County Police was struck in the shoulder and a 32-year-old officer from the nearby Webster Groves Police Department was hit in the face.

“These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers,” St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters early on Thursday.

“I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” he said, referring to festering tensions in the city since Brown’s death last summer.


The shooting of the officers comes less than three months after the fatal shooting of two New York City patrolmen on Dec. 20 by a man who said he was seeking to avenge the killings of Michael Brown and a second unarmed black man in New York City. {snip}

In Ferguson, the protest started peacefully on Wednesday but about two dozen officers clad in riot gear later faced off with demonstrators, and at least two people were taken into custody.

When gunshots rang out about midnight, the scene turned into pandemonium. Many of the few dozen demonstrators who were still at the scene fled, some of them screaming.


Belmar said the shooter was among the demonstrators standing across from the officers.


But protesters at the scene said on social media that the shots did not come from where they were standing.

“The shooter was not with the protesters. The shooter was atop the hill,” activist DeRay McKesson said on Twitter.

“I was here. I saw the officer fall. The shot came from at least 500 feet away from the officers,” he said.

Activists had called for the police chief’s removal since the fatal shooting of Brown, but McKesson said many were not satisfied merely with Jackson’s departure and also wanted to see the city’s mayor, James Knowles, step down.


The Ferguson rally was staged on the same night as a march to protest the killing of an unarmed man in Madison, Wisconsin.

About 1,500 people, some banging plastic pails or blowing whistles, marched on Wednesday in the state’s capital city after last week’s fatal police shooting of a young biracial man.


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