Hundreds join Missouri protest of police shootings

Hundreds of demonstrators stood within touching distance from officers in riot gear late yesterday before dissipating at the start of protests over the 2-month-old death of Michael Brown that activists say was racially motivated.

PTI| Updated: Oct 11, 2014, 13:56 PM IST

Ferguson: Hundreds of demonstrators stood within touching distance from officers in riot gear late yesterday before dissipating at the start of protests over the 2-month-old death of Michael Brown that activists say was racially motivated.

Organisers of the four-day Ferguson October events expected 6,000 participants. The initial protest yesterday outside a St. Louis County prosecutor's office didn't draw nearly that amount.

Later, tensions increased, with protesters outside the Ferguson Police Department chanting anti-police remarks such as, "How many kids did you kill today?"

A wall of about 100 officers in riot gear stood near them. The St. Louis County Police Department announced that it would arrest anyone who touched an officer.

Most of the crowd soon left, with organisers urging people to avoid arrest so that they could come back for more protests throughout the weekend.

Protesters renewed their call for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed. A grand jury is reviewing the case, and the US Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death and a broader inquiry into the Ferguson police force.

"We are here to demand the justice that our people have died for," chanted protest organiser Montague Simmons of the local group Organisation for Black Struggle. "We are here to bring peace, to bring restoration, to lift our banners in the name of those who've been sacrificed."

Police in Clayton reported no arrests, and officers escorted the several hundred demonstrators as they marched.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Police Department said it had encrypted its radio communications system because tactical information relayed to officers had been compromised during recent situations, putting officers and the public at risk.

Tensions remain high after another black 18-year-old's shooting death by a white police officer Wednesday night in St. Louis. Police say Vonderrit D. Myers shot at the officer, who was in uniform but working off-duty for a private neighborhood security patrol. Myers' parents say he was unarmed.

The officer's name hasn't been released.

Today the protests will shift to downtown St. Louis, and on Monday, a series of planned acts of civil disobedience are to take place throughout the region.

Brown's parents have called for peaceful protests.

Black leaders in St. Louis want the Justice Department to investigate Myers' shooting as well. Police said the officer fired 17 rounds after Myers shot at him. Preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed Myers. The officer wasn't injured.

Online court documents show Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with the unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest in June.