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Ferguson Protesters Urge Calm After Two Policemen Injured

Ferguson Protesters Urge Calm After Two Policemen InjuredFerguson Protesters Urge Calm After Two Policemen Injured

Protesters called for calm but vowed to keep pushing for change in Ferguson a day after the shooting of two officers in front of the city’s police department heightened tensions in the St. Louis suburb.

Dozens gathered for a candlelight vigil Thursday night, where they expressed sympathy for the wounded officers. They also prayed for peace as Ferguson moves forward in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report on racial bias in its law-enforcement practices, AP reported.

A larger crowd of about 200 protesters gathered later outside the police department, but the scene was a marked contrast to the previous night, when fights broke out before the shootings.

Some called for specific changes: the resignation of Ferguson’s mayor or the disbanding of the police department. Others were there to remember 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting death by a Ferguson police officer in August made the city a national focal point.

“We’ll not be derailed in the pursuit of justice by anybody or anything that wants to get in our way,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, a member of the state’s Ferguson Commission who led the prayer vigil at a public plaza in downtown Ferguson near the police department. “We refuse to stop.”

Officers from the St. Louis County Police Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol were summoned to bolster security but largely stood idle in the distance. The protesters had largely disbanded by 11:30 p.m. No arrests were made.

The shootings just after midnight on Thursday came as protesters had gathered after the resignation of the city’s embattled police chief. They marked the first time in more than seven months of tension in Ferguson that officers were shot at a protest, and the bloodshed threatened to inflame the already fraught relationship between police and demonstrators.

Both wounded officers were released from the hospital Thursday, but St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar – who called the attack an ambush – said they could have been killed. One was shot in the right shoulder, the bullet exiting through his back. The other in the right cheek, just below the eye. The bullet lodged behind his ear.

The gunman may have fired from up to 120 yards away, a distance longer than a football field. But with a line of roughly 20 officers standing in front of the building, the shooter did not have to be particularly accurate to hit two of them, Belmar said.

 

Financialtribune.com