Frustration and rage boiled over once again on Sunday night in Ferguson, Missouri, as protesters took to the streets and clashed with police and state highway patrol officers shortly before preliminary autopsy results revealed that 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times.
Early reports indicate that at least two people in the crowd were hit by gunfire that came from within the protest and not from police, who moved in with tear gas, rubber bullets and armored vehicles two hours before the newly instated midnight-5 a.m. curfew took effect.
The results of a preliminary private autopsy conducted on behalf of the Brown family by Dr. Michael M. Baden, former chief medical examiner in New York, showed that Brown was shot at least six times, two to three times in the face and several more times in the torso and arm, according to the New York Times.
All the bullets entered from the front, contradicting early reports that Brown was shot in the back as he tried to retreat from police. There was also no gunpowder residue on Brown's clothing, which also contradicted reports that the unarmed teen was shot at close range; Baden was not given access to Brown's clothing, so a final autopsy could provide clarity on that issue.
Family attorney Daryl Parks told CNN on Monday morning (August 18) that the preliminary autopsy results do not clearly show what he called the "kill shot," to the top of Brown's head, which would indicate that the teen was hit again when he was down on the ground at close range. Baden confirmed that there was a gunshot sound at the top of Brown's skull, "suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury." Baden concluded that Brown would not have survived the shooting even if he had been taken to a hospital right away. The Justice Department will also conduct its own autopsy as part of its investigation into the case.
"People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1," Dr. Baden told the paper after the autopsy. "They don’t do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that."
Police Move On Protesters
The latest street clashes took place just hours after family and friends gathered at a Justice for Michael Brown rally at Greater Grace Church, more than a week after Brown was killed by officer Darren Wilson. "What I want y'all to remember is that Michael Brown was not just some young black boy. He was a human being ... ," cousin Ty Pruitt told the crowd. "He was not a suspect. He was not an object. He was not an animal. But that's how he was killed."
After one male was shot overnight on Saturday and a handful of arrests took place, Sunday night saw the peaceful daytime protests turn violent once again as officers in riot gear advanced on the crowd and fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets in response to Molotov cocktails hurled their way. There were also reports of one person being shot from within the crowd.
Multiple reports indicated that there were children among the protest group, some of whom were overcome by the tear gas.
"It hurts them to see this type of thing going on as Michael Brown is going to be buried this week," attorney Parks told CNN of the street clashes that have become an almost nightly occurrence in Ferguson.
Five nights after two reporters were arrested during a protest, several reporters said they were detained or confronted by police on Sunday night, including, briefly, Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko.
National Guard Called In
Early Monday morning Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard into Ferguson to help quell the violence after what police said were the "pre-planned" acts of aggression Sunday night, according to USA Today. The move came after police said they were shot at and some protesters looted, hurled bottles and bottle rockets and attempted to block off some roads and overrun the police command center in the two hours before the curfew was set to begin.
"Based on the conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response," said Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who was brought in to ease tensions between Ferguson protesters and local police following last week's clashes. "We had to act to protect lives and property." Johnson, who is black, had temporarily brought a momentary peace to the protests, marching arm-in-arm with the protesters and helping to calm the atmosphere and demilitarize the police response.
In addition to at least one person shot on Sunday, seven or eight people were arrested and will likely be charged with failure to disperse. Among the stores reportedly looted on Sunday night is the liquor store where Brown allegedly stole some cigars shortly before he was shot.
According to accounts so far, Brown was walking down the middle of the a city street with friend Dorian Johnson holding some cigarillos he had allegedly stolen from that liquor store just minutes before. They were stopped by Wilson, who ordered them off the street and onto he sidewalk. What ensued was some sort of struggle between Brown and Wilson -- who was not aware of the alleged liquor store theft -- which ended with Brown being shot.
In interviews, Johnson has said that the confrontation was a result of racial profiling and aggressive police action by a white officer toward a black man.
Chances are you want to learn more, or take action on what is happening in Ferguson, so we’ve put together some ideas for you.
+ What is happening in Ferguson has drummed up a lot of talk about racial bias. If you have an idea for a digital tool that would help you and your friends have productive conversations about bias, you should take part in Look Different’s Challenge. There’s $10k prize at stake!
+ Get educated and check out Look Different’s Implicit Bias Quiz. It’s important to know exactly why we are talking about Ferguson, and that might mean examining our own hidden biases.
+ Take the conversation offline. Talk with your friends about their feelings about what is happening in Ferguson, and the shooting of Mike Brown. Use this as an opportunity to connect and learn from each other.