The predominantly African-American St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, is on edge after a policeman shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown after an apparent struggle on Saturday, August 9. The officer has not yet been publicly identified, though the department says he has been put on “paid administrative leave.” St. Louis County police chief John Belmar claims Brown ran at the officer while he was in his squad car and tried to take the officer’s weapon. Brown’s grandmother found his body less than two blocks away from her house immediately after the altercation. Both the police and witnesses say that Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting. In response to Brown’s killing, residents of Ferguson rioted and looted after a peaceful candlelight vigil on Sunday, with widespread property damage and theft reported. Police have said that the FBI will now head the investigation into the shooting. Al-Jazeera America reported on the riots, describing the public’s frustration with the police: The shooting sent hundreds of angry residents out of their apartments, igniting protests and a confrontation that lasted several hours. On Saturday night dozens of police cars remained parked near the shooting scene as mourners left votive candles, rose petals, a large stuffed animal and other remembrances at a makeshift memorial in the middle of the street. At the height of the post-shooting tensions, police at the scene called for about 60 other police units to respond to the area in Ferguson, a city of about 21,000 residents.
William A. Hudson is a summer 2014 In These Times intern.