Police distrust still prevalent years later

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Police distrust still prevalent years later
A girl holds a sign as she protests the shooting of Michael Brown August 21, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Crowds continue to gather to march along Florissant Road after Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson August 9th. AFP PHOTO/Joshua LOTT (Photo credit should read Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 21: After all other protesters were gone, a group of young men gather to strategize about how to better themselves and their communities and to mold themselves into civil rights leaders in a community roiled by the police shooting of an unarmed African American teen on Wednesday, August 21, 2014, in Ferguson, MO. The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9 has sparked nightly clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers that highlight the racial mistrust of the criminal justice system. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO. - AUGUST 21: Emily Holloway joins protestors at Lincoln Park in downtown Denver, CO August 21, 2014. Activists from Anonymous had called for the 'Day of Rage' protest in cities across the country in support of demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. Holloway said, 'I'm just here for the people. I love human beings more than anything in the world. and I can't stand to see them treated unjustly.' (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 21: Activists from Anonymous raise their hands as theyt participate in a Day Of Rage protest in front of the White House, August 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. The group held protests in other cities as well in support of demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 21: Police stand guard along Florissant Avenue to prevent a repeat of the unrest that followed the recent death of Michael Brown on August 21, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 21: Police stand guard along Florissant Avenue to prevent a repeat of the unrest that followed the recent death of Michael Brown on August 21, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 21: Police stand guard along Florissant Avenue to prevent a repeat of the unrest that followed the recent death of Michael Brown on August 21, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol speaks to media during a protest on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas in another night of unrest in a Missouri town where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, just hours after President Barack Obama called for calm. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: Dr, Michael Baden points to an autopsy diagram showing where the gun shots hit Michael Brown as family attorney's Benjamin Crump (L) and Daryl Parks look on during a press conference at the Greater St. Marks Family Church on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: Dr, Michael Baden points to his head where one of the gun shots hit Michael Brown as family attorney's Benjamin Crump (L) and Daryl Parks look on during a press conference at the Greater St. Marks Family Church on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: The family attorney for Michael Brown, Benjamin Crump, raises his fingers to indicate that 6 gun shots were the minimum number of times the 18 year old teenager was hit during a press conference at the Greater St. Marks Family Church on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A woman has her face doused with milk after suffering the effects of tear gas used by police at a protest of the death of Michael Brown August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Tensions still run high in the Ferguson community after 18 -year-old Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer August 9 on Canfield Drive. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17 : Demonstrators protesting Michael Brown's murder high-five each other August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death.. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17 : Demonstrators protesting Michael Brown's murder are tear gassed by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A man runs through the haze as tears gas fills the street during a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance on demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance on demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer try to stand their ground despite being overcome by tear gas on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A man is overcome by tear gas which police launched at demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A woman is helped from the street after becoming overcome by tear gas during a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Tear gas reigns down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air after a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Tear gas fills the street as a demonstrator walks through the haze during protests over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A man covers his face to lessen the affect of tear gas that police launched at demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A person runs through a clowd of tear gas that police launched at demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrator holds up his hands in a cloud of tear gas as police fire it at a group of people protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators react as police fire tear gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance while sending a volley of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A man gets help after being overcome by tear gas that police launched at demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police stand in a cloud of tear gas after the protest was attacked by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at police after they fired the gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrator picks up a tear gas canister to throw back at police after they fired the gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators react as police fire tear gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators react as police fire tear gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrator protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer stands in a cloud of tear gas after the protest was attacked by police on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrators protesting the death of Michael Brown runs amid tear gas used by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Tensions still run high in the Ferguson community after 18 -year-old Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson police officer August 9 on Canfield Drive. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Police advance through a cloud of tear gas toward demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police shot smoke and tear gas into the crowd of several hundred as they advanced near the police command center which has been set up in a shopping mall parking lot. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police run through a cloud of tear gas after the protest was attacked by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: A demonstrator protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer throws a tear gas grenade back toward police after the protest was attacked by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 17: Demonstrators react as police fire tear gas at them while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police sprayed pepper spray, shot smoke, gas and flash grenades as violent outbreaks have taken place in Ferguson since the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- For one night, all was well in Ferguson, Missouri. After a change in police command, violent protests decrying the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of white police officer Darren Wilson suddenly gave way to peaceful demonstrations.

A day later, Ferguson police, under pressure to disclose Wilson's name, also revealed that Brown was suspected of stealing cigars from a local store before his deadly encounter with Wilson. That announcement was met with disbelief and anger by several residents, who said police were trying to smear Brown's name to justify his shooting.

And the streets of Ferguson exploded anew.

Violence Flares Again in Ferguson

Brown's death is the latest illustration of deep divisions between minorities and police that have simmered for generations. Concern about the events playing out in Ferguson has coursed all the way up to the White House. President Barack Obama said Attorney General Eric Holder would go to Missouri this week to check on the independent federal investigation into Brown's death.

"In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement," the president said.

The depth of this distrust becomes obvious in polling. While the unrest was occurring in Missouri, almost two-thirds of blacks - 65 percent - surveyed by the Pew Research Center said police went too far in their response to the Ferguson protests, while one-third of whites agreed and nearly another third said the police response has been about right. The Pew survey was conducted Aug. 14-17.

Gallup polling between 2012 and 2014 showed that a majority of blacks, or 64 percent, had only some, very little or no confidence in the police, while the majority of the whites questioned, or 58 percent, had either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police. Between 2009 and 2011, Gallup found 61 percent of blacks only had partial or no confidence in police, while 62 percent of whites had a lot of confidence in the police.

One factor that breeds distrust is racial disparity between police and the communities they serve. Ferguson is nearly 70 percent black, while the police department is more than 90 percent white.

Distrust is also fueled by a perception of unchecked police violence through the ages: the 1992 acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King; the 1967 beating in Newark, New Jersey, of cab driver John Smith; Miami in 1980, after the acquittal of six white police officers in the beating death of black motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie; Cincinnati in 2001 after 19-year-old Timothy Thomas was shot and killed by a police officer. Rioting followed each of these cases.

"More African-Americans and Latinos believe police stop people without due cause, use excessive force and engage in verbal abuse than white Americans," said Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University sociology professor who has studied race and policing in the U.S. and internationally. "So they not only tend to see the police as having some racial biases, but also in their day-to-day activities behaving in ways that are more obtrusive and maybe unjustified in dealing with citizens."

Brown was shot multiple times by Wilson on Aug. 9. Police have said little about the encounter, except that it involved a scuffle in which Wilson was injured and Brown was shot. Witnesses say Brown had his hands in the air as the officer fired multiple rounds.

Tensions boiled over after a candlelight vigil the next night, as looters smashed and burned businesses, while police fired tear gas and smoke bombs. Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is black, was placed in charge of security, a move that was cheered in Ferguson. He ordered his officers to abandon the body armor and gas masks and instead ensure the public's right to peaceably assemble.

But things escalated again Aug. 15, after Ferguson police released Wilson's name along with video they said showed Brown robbing a store shortly before he was killed. Brown's family condemned the revelation, with lawyer Anthony Gray calling it a "sideshow."

Weitzer described several different forms of police behavior that breed distrust, particularly among black and Latino males. That included unwarranted stops of individuals on the street by police, such as New York police's highly criticized "stop-and-frisk" tactic, he said.

"They're not only more likely to be stopped by police and subjected to some kind of abuse, but it also happens repeatedly, and this is something we don't see in the white community," Weitzer said.

Although the St. Louis County medical examiner had conducted an autopsy, Brown's family ordered their own. It found that Brown had been shot at least six times, twice in the head. Family attorney Benjamin Crump said Monday that Brown's parents "could not trust what was going to be put in the reports about the tragic execution of their child." The Justice Department planned to conduct its own autopsy.

Without directly referencing the video revelation, Holder said he was troubled by "the selective release of sensitive information" surrounding Brown's case, and said his agency would preserve the integrity of its investigation, "no matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries."

"This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond," Holder said.

American University professor Cathy Lisa Schneider, who wrote a book on urban unrest, said distrust breeds frustration with police when there is no avenue of redress "and usually an increasing intensity of police violence."

It's "almost always cases of where the local authorities are completely impervious to the concerns of people who are vulnerable to police violence and do not know how to stop it," Schneider said. "It is the most potent symbol of racial domination and subjection. It is also the most painful."

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