If there were any questions as to whether America has begun to “heal” a year after the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri touched off months of racial tension across the country, culminating (but not ending) with a night of rioting in Baltimore in April, they were answered on Sunday when a day of peaceful protests in suburban Missouri turned into a night of violent clashes with police on the one year anniversary of the Michael Brown’s death.
Storefronts were smashed, helicopters circled overhead, and after a glass water bottle and rocks were thrown at police, gunshots rang out. Although it was initially unclear who shot first, CNN now says a man with a stolen handgun “unleashed a remarkable amount of gunfire” when pursued by officers. The man was then shot and is reportedly in critical condition and undergoing surgery. Here, allegedly, is what happened:
When officers first saw him, he was running away after allegedly exchanging gunfire with an unknown person.
Some gunfire rang out as reporters were talking to Ferguson’s acting police chief, Andre Anderson. A startled Anderson continued speaking with a steady burst of gunfire in the background. Crowds scattered.
Detectives in an unmarked SUV turned on its emergency lights and pursued him, only to be shot at, according to Belmar. The bullets hit the vehicle’s hood and windshield several times, Belmar said.
As the detectives got out of the car, the suspect allegedly turned around and fired again.
Then he ran toward a fenced area, where he continued firing — until officers struck him multiple times, Belmar said.
The four plainclothes officers involved in the shooting have between six to 12 years of experience, he said. They have been placed on administrative leave.
(1/2) A St. Louis County officer was involved in an officer-involved shooting after comin g under heavy gunfire. pic.twitter.com/L4PqopaEF1
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) August 10, 2015
The moment the shooting began is caught on tape:
As you can see from the visuals below, Sunday’s incident will do nothing to dispel the notion that American cities are being for all intents and purposes militarized in the face of what police view as an increasingly tenuous relationship between a marginalized portion of society and authorities.
More color from The New York Times:
St. Louis County police officers shot and critically injured a man who fired at them here late Sunday night, the authorities said, setting this region on another tense and uncertain course on the same day that hundreds gathered to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white officer.
The shooting came after rival groups began shooting at each other on the west side of West Florissant Avenue, the center of the Ferguson protests, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department said. Chief Belmar said that there had been two more shootings in the area, and that the police had used smoke canisters.
The man, who was not publicly identified, was part of one of the rival groups, the chief said, and four plainclothes officers saw him running across a parking lot on the opposite side of the avenue.
The officers drove their unmarked sport utility vehicle, with its interior lights flashing, toward him, and he opened fire on the car, Mr. Belmar said. The police returned fire from inside the car, and then chased the man on foot, he said. Dozens of gunshots were fired, and all four officers shot back and hit the man, who fell to the ground.
A gun that the police recovered from the shooting victim was a 9-milimeter Sig Sauer that they said was reported stolen last year, the authorities said. Chief Belmar said that the four detectives who had shot the man had between six and 12 years of experience, but he declined to provide information about their race.
The shooting, which followed an otherwise peaceful day, was another vexing turn for activists and the authorities alike. It was the second consecutive night of gunfire on West Florissant.
“They were criminals; they weren’t protesters,” Mr. Belmar said of the groups exchanging gunfire. “Protesters are the people out there talking about a way to effect change. We can’t afford to have this kind of violence, not only on a night like this but any point in time if we’re going to move forward in the right direction.”
The violence comes just days after Hillary Clinton told Al Sharpton that it’s “as clear as could be” that police in America treat African Americans unfairly and after Louis Farrakhan warned that “if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us.” It remains to be seen if Sunday’s events will serve to ignite still more violence in the days and weeks to come, but one thing is for sure, one shouldn’t expect the following graph to improve any time in the near future: