Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Obama asks for calm after no charges in shooting

Published:Wednesday | November 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Protesters lay down on a street in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Calfornia, yesterday, after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old. - AP Photos
Protesters shut down Interstate 580.
Cars burn at a dealership yesterday in Dellwood, Missouri.
Protesters gather around burning refuse in Oakland.


Enraged protesters set fire to buildings and cars and looted businesses in Ferguson after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black 18-year-old, whose fatal shooting exposed deep racial tension between African-Americans and police.

Ferguson burned through the night despite pleas for calm from President Barack Obama and the family of Michael Brown after St Louis County's top prosecutor announced the officer faces no state criminal charges. Monday night's destruction appeared to be much worse than the protests after Brown's August death. Authorities used tear gas to try to disperse protesters and reported hearing hundreds of gunshots, which for a time prevented fire crews from fighting the flames.

Officer Darren Wilson's fatal shooting of Brown during an August 9 confrontation ignited a fierce debate over how police treat young African-American men and focused attention on long-simmering racial tensions in Ferguson and around the US, four decades after the 1960s civil rights movement. Police were criticised for responding to protests with armoured vehicles and tear gas.

Those protests, which lasted for weeks, were often peaceful, but sometimes violent. Monday night's protests were "probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August" after Brown was killed, said St Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, who added that police had not yet fired a shot. He said the fabric of the community has been torn apart in Ferguson, a predominantly black community patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force.

Belmar said that unless his agency could bring in 10,000 officers, "I don't think we can prevent folks who really are intent on destroying a community."

Obama said on Monday night from the White House that some Americans might be angry, but need to accept the grand jury's decision.

"We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," Obama said. He echoed Brown's parents in calling for any protests to be peaceful.

The vast majority of protesters had left the streets by late Monday, but looting and gunfire were reported well after midnight.