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Masked individuals carry items out of a store, during on-going demonstrations to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, August 16, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  Masked individuals carry items out of a store, during on-going demonstrations to protest against the shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, August 16, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson   

Looting Resumes In Ferguson

Photo of Chuck Ross
Chuck Ross
Reporter

After two days of relative peace, looting and violence fell on Ferguson again Friday night.

The store where Michael Brown stole cigars and man-handled a clerk was the primary target of the action. The violence bubbled up late in the evening, after many of the protesters and media in the St. Louis suburb had declared that the night would end peacefully.

But a group of agitators squared off with authorities. The armored officers and SWAT units that had been replaced after a massive altercation on Wednesday were brought back to clear the streets after agitated protesters began getting out of hand and throwing bottles.

Later, they began looting.

 

 

 

 

Ferguson Market was heaviest hit. The small store became a focal point Friday after Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson announced that Brown was the prime suspect in a strong-arm robbery that took place there minutes before he was shot by Officer Darren Wilson.

Thursday was hailed as a new beginning. Ferguson and St. Louis County police had been criticized for their heavy-handed police tactics, which included the use of mine-resistant military vehicles, SWAT units, tear gas and rubber bullets. The agencies justified the armored display as a legitimate response to heavy looting that occurred Sunday.

Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson to manage the police presence and interact with the community. Johnson, a native of Ferguson, walked the streets and interacted with residents, protesters and the media in an effort to prevent violence.

But the mood changed Friday after Jackson released Wilson’s name. At the same time, Jackson also released the bombshell that Brown had been involved in the strong-arm robbery.

Brown family attorneys and protesters voiced outrage at the timing of the information release. They generally felt that the information was being released in order to smear Brown’s name by making it seem as if he deserved to be shot.

Jackson did not help lay that concern to rest. After releasing Wilson’s name he had to clarify later that Wilson did not know Brown took part in a robbery before he encountered the 18-year-old. And Jackson clarified further by saying that Wilson realized during the encounter that Brown was likely responsible for the robbery, which the officer had heard reported on dispatch radio.

On Friday, Brown family attorney Anthony Gray predicted that any violence that occurred Friday night would be Jackson’s responsibility.

But others blame Johnson and the State Highway Patrol.

Former St. Louis County police chief Tim Fitch said that police were reluctant to intervene in the looting.

Though police were on hand to clear the streets, they apparently did not attempt to stop the looting. One store owner told Fox 2 that they are angry that state police drove by their looted store without stopping.

 

Fox 2 in St. Louis reported that St. Louis County police said they were instructed to stand down.

Owners at Sam’s Meat Market resorted to defending their own store after looters had torn it apart.

 

 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol plans to hold a news conference Saturday afternoon.

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