Police shooting draws protesters from near, far

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Ferguson Protests: Police Fire Tear Gas, Arrest 7

By DAVID A. LIEB

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Protesters who have for days lined a busy suburban St. Louis street not far from the place where a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager have walked from nearby apartments, driven from neighboring communities and flown in from states hundreds of miles away. Some are young parents carrying infants. Others, college students. Retirees. Professionals taking a break from their jobs.

They have chanted, marched, shouted, danced on vehicles and - though most have remained peaceful - also looted and vandalized stores during late-night clashes with armored police who have fired smoke canisters and tear gas into the crowds.

The demonstrators are demanding justice for 18-year-old Michael Brown, which they say can only be accomplished if Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is charged and convicted for the shooting. Many also cite larger causes.

Some vent frustration about what they describe as a pattern of harassment and intimidation of black residents by police - not just in Ferguson, but in numerous other predominantly low-income minority communities. Others see an opportunity to participate in what they consider a modern civil rights movement.

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Police shooting draws protesters from near, far
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap at rests on top of the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Director Spike Lee takes a picture of a black St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap that rests on top of the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
Lesley McSpadden is comforted during the funeral services for her son Michael Brown on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer on Aug. 9. The more than two weeks since Michael Brown's death have been marked by nightly protests, some violent and chaotic, although tensions have eased in recent days. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post Dispatch, Robert Cohen, Pool)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: People raise their arms during the funeral of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church awaiting the start of his funeral on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: People gather for the funeral of Michael Brown inside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown,18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A man reacts during funeral services for Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Robert Cohen-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: The casket leaves the church at the funeral of Michael Brown at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Michael Brown, Sr., father of Michael Brown holding young girl, heads into Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of his son on Monday, August 25, 2014, in St. Louis, MO. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American male, was fatally gunned down by a White police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9 in Ferguson, MO. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, walks from her son's grave following a service at Saint Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A hearse sits in front of the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: A family member wearing a shirt bearing a photo of Michael Brown, heads into Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on Monday, August 25, 2014, in St. Louis, MO. Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American male, was fatally gunned down by a White police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9 in Ferguson, MO. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The funeral procession for Michael Brown heads to the St. Peters Cemetery in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Brown, who is black, was unarmed when he was shot in Ferguson, Mo., Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. Protesters took to the streets of the St. Louis suburb night after night, calling for change and drawing national attention to issues surrounding race and policing. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket is lowered during the funeral service for his son Michael Brown in Normandy, Mo., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed Aug. 9 in a confrontation with a police officer that fueled almost two weeks of street protests. (AP Photo/New York Times, Richard Perry, File Pool)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Rev. Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson touch the casket during the funeral for Michael Brown at St. Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Under a crush of mourners and media the remains of Michael Brown are loaded into a hearse following his funeral services at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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"Being black in America is basically being born with a target," said Keyon Watkins, a 26-year-old college graduate with a computer science degree who joined in protest on a late weekend night. "All of this is just built-up, pent-up aggression by being mistreated on a daily basis."

As Watkins stood on the curb of West Florissant Avenue, a parade of vehicles slowly passed by - some with teenagers dancing atop the hoods, some blaring music profaning police, many honking their horns in what has become a sounding call for the protest.

On another night, the rap musician Stackz drove up in a new white Corvette, parked it in the street and joined in the protest. Though he now lives in Atlanta, he grew up in the neighborhood.

"This happened right in my area. It was a must to be here," said Stackz, who said his real name was Demarco Williams.

Brown had been walking with a friend down nearby Canfield Drive when officer Wilson told them to get out of the street. They kept walking. Police say a scuffle ensued, Wilson was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say the teenager had his hands in the air - a sign of surrender - as Wilson fired multiple rounds.

So the protesters chant "Hands up! Don't shoot!" while raising their own arms. They write the words on posters, and print them on T-shirts.

Some of the protesters said they already had been shot by police, or know relatives and friends who had been. Michael Johnson, 42, lifted up his shirt to show the scars on his torso that he said he received when he was shot by a St. Louis police officer at age 18. Because of the injuries, he had to abandon his dream of joining the Marines.

"That one night cost me my whole future," said Johnson, standing in front of a looted and burnt-out convenience store. "If I got to die tonight, I don't mind ... I'm dying for a cause."

There have been no reports of protesters dying in their clashes with police.

After several tumultuous nights, police tried to change their tactics. State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson took command of security from local authorities and walked the streets side-by-side with the protesters. So did celebrity civil rights activists, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The festive atmosphere lasted only one night, and protests again turned violent during the weekend, prompting Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency and impose a midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew in Ferguson. Some who defied the curfew clashed again with police early Sunday, but Johnson again encouraged peaceful demonstrations for the nights to come.

LaVon Stennis-Williams flew in from Omaha, Nebraska, to join the protest with her daughter who is attending law school at Saint Louis University. Stennis-Williams, 52, wanted to personally experience the civil rights movement that she had heard about as a child in the 1960s.

"I felt like it was an obligation to come here and be a part of this," she said. "Maybe this will be a catalyst of change in this country to get people to become more tolerant and more respectful of their civil rights."

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