Ferguson (Missouri), Aug. 16: Tension between the police and demonstrators infuriated by the shooting death of Michael Brown a week ago was renewed early today, as protesters barricaded a major thoroughfare and police officers in riot gear quickly responded, prompting a standoff.
The police, using megaphones, were ordering the demonstrators to abandon their protest. Some demonstrators threw glass bottles toward the authorities, who repeatedly warned that they could make arrests.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” an unidentified police officer told the protesters as a law enforcement helicopter, its spotlight on, circled the scene in this St Louis suburb of about 21,000.
The developments, coming after a night of calm that provoked optimistic comments from public officials, amounted to the first confrontation since the Missouri State Highway Patrol assumed responsibility for security here earlier in the week.
Demonstrators, some wearing bandannas over their noses and mouths, broke into a liquor store, racing through and leaving with bottles of alcohol. But at certain other retail outlets, like a beauty supply store, protesters blocked entrances to keep potential looters away.
Some protesters pleaded with others to avoid confrontation, while some urged a fierce encounter with the authorities. “It’s going to be a long war,” one young man told another. “We need to win a few battles.”
One demonstrator said the police had provoked the confrontation, arguing that the death of Brown, who was fatally shot by a police officer on August 9 while unarmed, and the authorities’ reaction to the ensuing protests had laid the groundwork for trouble.
“The police are the ones ensuring the violence,” said Mauricelm-Lei Millere, who said he lives in Washington and travelled to Ferguson to join the protests. “This is a police state,” Milliere added.
Earlier, one protester had sought to rally others to action through a megaphone, telling them, “You say you’re ready to jam? Let’s jam.”