UK & World News

  • 14 August 2014, 11:24

Missouri Cops In Violent Clash With Protesters

Police have fired tear gas and smoke bombs at protesters throwing Molotov cocktails during violent protests in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson.

The clashes came as protesters took to the streets for another night amid unrest caused by a policeman's fatal shooting of a black teenager on Saturday.

Police say 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead during a scuffle with an officer, but a witness told local media Mr Brown had his hands in the air when he was killed.

The fresh protests saw crowds face off with heavily-armed police in the streets, as officers trained weapons on them from an armoured truck.

The protesters shouted slogans including "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and waved signs asking for answers about the teenager's death.

The situation on the streets worsened after nightfall, with police ordering people to go home and then using smoke bombs and tear gas.

Two reporters - Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post - were also detained by police during the clashes. 

They were later released without any charges. Both say they were assaulted but not seriously hurt.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said the St Louis County investigation into the shooting could take weeks to complete.

He said his department welcomes Justice Department training on racial relations in Ferguson, where two-thirds of the 21,000 residents are black while all but three of the police force's officers are white.

"Unfortunately, an undertow (of racial unrest) has bubbled to the surface. Race relations is the top priority now," Mr Jackson said.

However, he said the identity of the officer who shot Mr Brown in being withheld for the time being out of concerns for the officer's safety.

Officials have urged demonstrators to remain calm. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles called for "any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight".

"Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours," he said.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama appealed for calm after what he called a "heart-breaking" incident, noting that the FBI had opened a civil rights investigation into Mr Brown's death.