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Church rallies as Ferguson protests turn violent

21 August 2014

by a staff reporter


Wound: Renita Lamkin, an African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor, shows where she was hit by a rubber bullet at a protest in Ferguson

Wound: Renita Lamkin, an African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor, shows where she was hit by a rubber bullet at a protest in Ferguson

VIOLENT protests have continued in Ferguson, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, after a black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot dead by a white policeman.

Nightly protests since the shooting, on 9 August, have involved peaceful demonstrations and violent clashes between police and demonstrators, in which the police have used tear gas and stun grenades. A second black man, aged 23, was shot dead by police on Tuesday, after he approached them reportedly brandishing a knife.

The officer who shot the teenager has been placed on administrative leave. An autopsy, paid for by the Brown family, found that Mr Brown, who was 18, had been shot twice in the head and four times in the body.

The policeman who has just been placed in charge of Ferguson, Captain Ron Johnson, spoke at a rally there in Greater Grace Church, on Sunday, which was attended by Mr Brown's family, including his father, Michael Brown Sr (below).

Mr Johnson told the large congregation: "I wear this uniform and I should say that I am sorry. This is my neighbourhood. You are my family, friends. And I am you. I will stand to protect you. To protect your right to protest." He also spoke of Jesus's "picking up" Peter after his failure, and compared the dead teenager to his own son.

A civil-rights leader, the Revd Al Sharpton, also spoke. He said that the case would mark a defining moment in civil-rights history.

President Obama said: "A gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement. In too many communities, too many young men of colour are left behind and seen only as objects of fear."

He has so far turned down calls to visit Ferguson, but announced that the Attorney General, Eric Holder, was going there on Wednesday to meet the FBI and other officials, who are carrying out an independent federal investigation.

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