Gunfire erupts during second night of rioting in St. Louis suburb
More than 50 people were arrested in a mostly black suburb of St. Louis last night as a second night of rioting erupted ostensibly over the death of a young black man at the hands of police.
Police reported shots being fired as tear gas was used to disperse the crowds.
At this point, details of what occurred are very sketchy. It is believed that the young man, Michael Brown, was in the police car for a still unspecified reason, when he had an altercation with a police officer. Several shots rang out before the officer left the car.
"He just graduated and was on his way to college," said Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, speaking through tears at a news conference on Monday, which would have been her first-born son's first day at school.
She called for calm, but demonstrations demanding the arrest and conviction of the police officer turned violent. Fire trucks, ambulances and more officers converged on the area in a chaotic scene. One officer in riot gear stood behind a squad car in a standoff with a group of young demonstrators.
Crowds, driven out of one area by tear gas gathered outside a police station chanting "Hands up, don't shoot".
"We aren't going to let this one go," said 18-year-old Dreya Harris, of St. Louis. "People feel like in the Trayvon Martin case that there was no justice."
Other demonstrators had photographs that appeared to show Brown's body lying on the street and shot videos of the confrontations with their mobile phones.
"They are throwing bottles, coins, rocks at the police ... That's why the tear gas has been deployed," St. Louis County Police Department spokesman Brian Schellman said.
More than 50 people have been arrested by early Tuesday morning, said police and local media.
On Sunday night, crowds broke car and shop windows, set fire to one building and looted shops. At least two dozen businesses were damaged, 32 people were arrested, and
The FBI inquiry, opened on Monday, would supplement the main investigation by St. Louis County police, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
The officer involved in the shooting, who was not identified, is a six-year veteran and has been put on administrative leave, police said. The officer's race has not been disclosed.
After Sunday night's riots and looting, several business owners took security of their property into their own hands:
Nobody is robbing St. Louis Ink Tattoo Studio anytime soon. Or County Guns, for that matter.
The two north county businesses share a storefront in a Florissant strip mall less than ten minute drive from the epicenter of last night's riots in Ferguson. After nightfall, what began as a community's peaceful demonstration against the Ferguson Police Department's shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown turned increasingly violent. Crowds plundered a QuikTrip and burned it to the ground, and local news began reporting brazen raids on other stores in the area.
After hearing of the roving bands of looters, Mike Gutierrez knew he had to protect his tattoo shop. He brought a posse with him, including Adam Weinstein, owner of County Guns, who was acutely worried about criminals getting their hands on his merchandise.
"We didn't want them coming in here and then running around with a bunch of free guns," Weinstein told Daily RFT when we arrive at the store around 12:30 a.m. this morning. Weinstein was outfitted with an assault rifle, pistol and tactical vest. Gutierrez cradled his own rifle in his hands.
Gutierrez, Weinstein and their group arrived to find thieves tearing through a Dollar General in the same strip mall that houses their business. Weinstein says the looters attempted moving toward the shop, but were scared off by the guns. Then the police arrived.
"There were like two SWAT vans, two dozen cop cars," said one woman. The cops apparently checked out the situation and then tore off to some other crisis.
"It is what it is," said Gutierrez, summing up the situation. He adjusted the straps on a Kevlar bib that looked cartoonishly tiny compared to his bulk. "People just got too into their emotions."
There were reports of people coming in from out of town to join in the looting.
Now that the Justice Department is involved, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the police officer in question is going to be charged with something. As for the rioters, if they want justice for Michael Brown, they're going to have to give justice to the business owners of the stores they trashed. Justice does not exist in a vacuum. And "justice for all" is not an empty slogan, but rather codified in the Constitution. Denying justice to some while claiming it for yourself doesn't work, either for Michael Brown or anyone else.
But, of course, "justice" is the last thing on the rioter's minds and getting free stuff is.