Police in the US town of Ferguson, Missouri, have fired smoke canisters to disperse some 200 protesters defying a midnight curfew. Many residents remain angry at the recent police killing of a black teenager.
Acting in defiance of a midnight curfew declared by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, some 200 demonstrators gathered early on Sunday in the area of Ferguson where the teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown, was shot dead by a police officer on August 9.
Heavily armed riot police, backed by armored cars, hurled smoke canisters before slowly moving in to disperse the crowd. No injuries were reported.
The unrest comes following a wave of rioting triggered by the shooting of Brown by a white police officer.
Nixon said on Saturday he had declared the curfew and a state of emergency “to protect the people and property of Ferguson” after looters raided town stores and clashed with police overnight Friday to Saturday. On that occasion, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to deter the looters, who threw Molotov cocktails and bricks at police.
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered peacefully near the site where Brown was shot to mark the exact time he was killed just over a week ago.
Renewed racism debate
Brown’s death has set in motion a renewed national debate about the treatment of African Americans by law enforcement officials.
Brown’s family has appealed for calm, but has criticized police for “smearing” their son’s character by releasing a surveillance video — after his death — allegedly showing Brown robbing a convenience store.
The robbery occurred just minutes before the policeman shot Brown dead, but police say the officer did not know of it when he fired at the teenager, and had stopped him for walking in the middle of the street.
Some witnesses say Brown had his hands in the air when he was shot a number of times.
tj/ipj (AFP, Reuters)