Rioters tossed Molotov cocktails, police fired tear gas, reporters were arrested and city officials pleaded for calm and respect as racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, threatened to overwhelm the community.
The unrest in the St. Louis suburb was sparked Saturday by a police officer’s fatal shooting of a black teen who friends said was unarmed. Police officials contend 18-year-old Michael Brown was in a struggle over an officer’s gun when he was shot.
Politico identified the two reporters arrested as the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly.
Martin Baron, executive editor of the Post, said Lowery briefed the newspaper on the arrest, “and there was absolutely no justification.”
“He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s – and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed. That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous,” he said.
City officials pleaded with protesters to gather only during daylight hours and go home at night.
“The city of Ferguson mourns the loss of Michael Brown’s life that occurred this past Saturday,” the city statement said. “We understand members of our community, and those nationwide, are grieving with us. We have worked diligently to provide an opportunity for our residents to both grieve and voice frustrations through prayer vigils and peaceful protests.”
According to a CBS report, hundreds have attended services in churches this week prompted by Brown’s death.
One church service featured Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who urged calm, and another featured Al Sharpton, who criticized authorities for withholding the name of the officer, a move authorities said was prompted by death threats.
“The local authorities have put themselves in a position – hiding names and not being transparent – where people will not trust anything but an objective investigation,” Sharpton said.
Police Chief Tom Jackson said, “We’re taking the threats seriously.”
The St. Louis County Police Department is investigating the shooting.
According to the Daily Beast, David Hoech, 74 and a Vietnam veteran, drove 60 miles to Ferguson to express sympathy for Brown’s family.
“The only thing that matters in all of this is that mother who lost her son,” he said, urging the community to heal.
“I want to go back there and talk to the people,” Hoech told officers stopping pedestrians at a police line in town.
He eventually convinced officers to let him through.
“This is America. I can go where I want to go. And if you’re going to shoot my a–, go ahead and shoot me,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported crowds launching Molotov cocktails and officers responding with smoke bombs and tear gas.
Jon Belmar, chief of police for St. Louis County, said officers have been targeted with rocks, bottles and gunshots, and dozens of patrol vehicles already have been destroyed.
He said officers were restrained in their response.
CBS reported the Internet hacker group Anonymous publicized what it claimed was the name of the Ferguson officer who shot the teen, warning it would follow with a photo, address and other information.
However, police said the group’s information was wrong.
The NAACP called on the United Nations to get involved, Breitbart reported.
A group of activists presented to a U.N. panel in Geneva, Switzerland, their charge that the U.S. was not in compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination treaty.
WND reported mobs were putting officers on a “hit list,” and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles revealed many of the rioters and looters came from out of town.