'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Thursday, March 12, 2015
Ferguson: Two police officers shot amid protests outside department HQ in St Louis suburb
Two police officers have been shot in Ferguson, Missouri, during a protest outside the police
station in the troubled St Louis suburb. At least three shots rang out from the hill opposite the
station, witnesses said, in the early hours of Thursday morning as numbers at
the protest started to dwindle.
One of the officers was hit in the face, the other in the
shoulder, in what St Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar described as "very
serious gunshot wounds". Neither officer was from the Ferguson police unit itself, Belmar
said. He identified them as a 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves and a
41-year-old from St Louis County, and said both were conscious in hospital.
Journalist Bradley Rayford Witnesses described "three
or four muzzle flashes" coming the crest of Tiffin Avenue Hill opposite
the station - not from the group of peaceful protesters themselves. "Two cops were shot in Ferguson tonight," he wrote
on Twitter. "I was standing close to them when they were shot. The bullets
went right past [my] head."
As of 2.30am local time (7.30am GMT), a small number of
protesters remained at the scene, held back by police tape and officers
declaring "this is a crime scene". Peaceful demonstrations have become routine at the police
station on South Florissant Road, ever since the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown by
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August last year.
Jackson was the sixth employee to resign or be fired after a
Justice Department report cleared white former Ferguson police officer Darren
Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting of 18-year-old Brown in Ferguson
last summer. A separate Justice Department report found a profit-driven court
system and widespread racial bias in the city police department. Jackson oversaw the Ferguson force for nearly five years
before the shooting that stirred months of unrest across the St Louis region
and drew global attention to the predominantly black city of 21,000.
Jackson took nearly a week to publicly identify Wilson as
the shooter and then further heightened tension in the community by releasing
Wilson's name at the same time as store security video that police said showed
Brown stealing a box of cigars and shoving a clerk only a short time before his
death. During a 12-minute news conference, Ferguson Mayor James
Knowles III said Jackson resigned after "a lot of soul-searching"
about how the community could heal from the racial unrest stemming from the
fatal shooting last summer. "The chief is the kind of honourable man you don't have
to go to," Knowles said. "He comes to you when he knows that this is
something we have to seriously discuss."
The acting head of the Justice Department's civil rights
division released a statement saying the US government remains committed to
reaching a "court-enforceable agreement" to address Ferguson's
"unconstitutional practices," regardless of who's in charge of the
city. A US law enforcement official said on Wednesday the Justice
Department had not pressured or encouraged Jackson to resign during meetings
with him but had also not resisted the idea. The official spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the ongoing meetings between the Justice Department and
the police department.
Besides Jackson, Ferguson's court clerk was fired last week
and two police officers resigned. The judge who oversaw the court system also
resigned, and the City Council on Tuesday agreed to a separation agreement with
the city manager.