Amsterdam News Staff
In the continuing aftermath of the shooting of unarmed, Black 18-year-old Michael Brown, several issues plague the community of Ferguson, Mo., including a memorial for the teen being set on fire.
Protests continue in Ferguson, with shots fired, a store’s windows smashed and fires set. Three people were reportedly arrested early Wednesday morning. The protest swelled to as many as 200 people.
Six shots were fired at the scene of the unrest, but no injuries were reported.
Some Ferguson police officers are now wearing body cameras. However, at the time of the latest incident, officers said their cameras were not working because the batteries had died. The cameras had been in use for 20 hours.
Reports indicate that members of the Ferguson community had to rebuild the memorial created near where Brown was shot last month by police officer Darren Wilson. Items on the roadside memorial caught fire early Tuesday morning. It’s not clear whether the fire was an accident or intentional.
A photo shows a votive candle turned over and empty near the burn site. Residents say they smelled gasoline when the fire was put out. One witness said he drove by the memorial early in the morning and saw it an hour late, on fire.
“There was no way a candle did this,” said David Whitt, leader of the group Canfield Watchmen. “That fire was burning too high and too hot.”
Residents replaced items such as T-shirts, stuffed animals and flowers. A group of people rallied around the rebuilt memorial for prayer.
Wilson, the officer who fatally shot Brown, testified before a grand jury last week for nearly four hours. Reports indicate that Wilson cooperated with the grand jury. Evidence is also being presented to the grand jury. A key witness in the case is Tiffany Mitchell, who saw the shooting. However, she has not been subpoenaed.
The relationship between the community and police in Ferguson continues to be repaired. Two town hall meetings held to discuss the incident at two churches were closed to the media. Only residents with photo IDs that had Ferguson addresses were permitted to participate.
Approximately 50 people attended one of the meetings, which included Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III. Those who attended the meeting said that complaints were lodged at Ferguson’s police department, which has gained national attention. Although Ferguson is nearly 70 percent Black, only three of the 50 police officers serving the city are Black.
At the other meeting, attended by an interracial group, racial tensions ran high. Reports indicate that many racial remarks were made, including the use of the word “thug” by white residents to describe protesters.