Protests in Ferguson, Missouri on the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown after he assaulted a police officer and attempted to take his weapon erupted in violence Sunday. Despite multiple reports that police officers only fired back after coming under heavy fire, some protesters still blame the cops.
"It was a poor decision to use plainclothes officers in a protest setting because it made it difficult for people to identify police officers, which is essential to the safety of community members," said Kayla Reed, a field organizer with the Organization of Black Struggle, in a statement. "After a year of protest and conversation around police accountability, having plainclothes officers without body cameras and proper identification in the protest setting leaves us with only the officer's account of the incident, which is clearly problematic."
Reed's complaint is reference to the plain clothes officers who shot 18-year-old Tyrone Harris Jr, a "real close" friend of the deceased Brown, after he opened fire on the officers. Harris is in "critical, unstable" condition.
AP reports that Harris' attack was not the only one law enforcement came under Sunday:
The shooting happened shortly after a separate incident that the chief called "an exchange of gunfire between two groups" rang out around 11:15 p.m. Sunday while protesters were gathered on West Florissant Avenue, a business zone that saw rioting and looting last year after Brown's killing. The shots sent protesters and reporters running for cover.
The chief said an estimated six shooters unleashed a "remarkable" amount of gunfire over about 45 seconds. [...]
The suspect who fired on officers had a semi-automatic 9 mm gun that was stolen last year from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, according to the chief.
St. Louis County Chief Jon Belmar made sure to distinguish between the attackers and the protesters, saying, "They were criminals. They weren't protesters."
"There is a small group of people out there that are intent on making sure that peace doesn't prevail," he said. "There are a lot of emotions. I get it. But we can't sustain this as we move forward."