What To Expect In Ferguson This Week After A Man Was Shot By Police & A State Of Emergency Has Been Declared
As crowds gathered on Sunday night in Ferguson, Missouri to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's death, a man was shot and wounded by the St. Louis County Police. According to Police Chief Jon Belmar, rival groups were shooting at one another near the center of the gathering. The victim, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris, Jr., allegedly shot at four officers when they pursued him. After dozens of shots were fired, Harris was struck by a bullet and taken to the hospital, where he was in critical condition Monday morning. Following the death of Brown last August, protests continued in Ferguson for months. So what should we expect in Ferguson this week after the latest police shooting?
Harris' father, Tyrone Harris, Sr., told the Associated Press that his son was shot between eight and 12 times, and called the police's account of the shooting "a bunch of lies." He also told KMOV that witnesses claim his son was not armed, but simply running away from the situation. Harris Sr. might not be alone in his distrust — NAACP board member John Gaskin III told the AP that more people might be reluctant to trust the police's story, saying, "There's still a tremendous level of distrust between law enforcement and the community."
More rallies have been planned for Monday night in response to Harris, Jr.'s shooting in and around Ferguson, and previously-planned protests, including the Ferguson Action Coalition's day of civil disobedience and national call to action, are still set to take place. Protest leaders have criticized the St. Louis County Police for the shooting, and Kayla Reed, of the Organization for Black Struggle, told the AP that the police's use of force on Sunday night was "excessive and antagonistic."
However, the city isn't expected to erupt into violent unrest like it did after Brown's death last year. Gaskin told The AP that he expects Monday night in Ferguson to be free of reactive violence, thievery, and destruction. Gov. Jay Nixon also doesn't think that the shooting will cause a lot of turmoil. In a statement released Monday, he said: "For the sake of all, it is my hope and expectation that today’s events will be peaceful so that these efforts can continue to move the region in a positive direction." With the county Executive Steve Stenger declaring a state of emergency in the area on Monday afternoon, Chief Belmar is given the ability to "exercise all powers and duties necessary to preserve order, prevent crimes, and protect the life and property of our citizens."
Belmar was praised for differentiating between the peaceful protesters and those involved in the shootout. He said to reporters Sunday night: "Protesters are the people out there talking about a way to effect change. We can’t afford to have this kind of violence, not only on a night like this, but any point in time if we’re going to move forward in the right direction."
Federal authorities are hoping for the continued rallies to remain calm too, for the sake of the city and country's healing. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a speech to the National Fraternal Order of Police Monday: "The weekend’s events were peaceful and promoted a message of reconciliation and healing. But incidents of violence, such as we saw last night, are contrary to both that message, along with everything that all of us, including this group, have worked to achieve over the past year."
If the protests remain peaceful Monday night, it will be a positive sign for the rest of the week. With the declaration of a state of emergency, and more details emerging about Sunday night's shooting and Harris Jr.'s condition, things could change. But for now, Ferguson isn't expected to return to a state of complete unrest this week.