Following the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson early Thursday morning, the St. Louis County police force and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have announced they are taking over security at protests.
The change in responsibility will take place Thursday night,
according to the St. Louis County Police Department.
The stepped-up security by St. Louis County comes after the early
morning shooting that left two police officers injured as
protests were winding down. Officials said the Ferguson Police
Department will continue to carry out routine policing services
in the city.
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) March
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the rally was
unusually rowdy and included fist-fights. Belmar said the crowd
had dissipated to about 75 protesters, and about 20 to 25
officers were lined up, when three to four shots were fired. One
officer was shot in the face, just below his right eye. The
bullet lodged behind his ear. The other officer was shot in his
right shoulder, with the bullet leaving out his back.
The injured police officers were released from the hospital
mid-morning. Police Chief Belmar told reporters they are not
expected to have long-term injuries.
Police converged on a home in Ferguson on Thursday and have taken
people in for questioning following the shooting. However, no one
has been arrested.
The protests were prompted by the resignation of Ferguson’s
police chief, the latest official to step down following a
scathing Department of Justice report accusing the city courts
and police of racial bias. Five other people have resigned since
the report’s release a week ago.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the officers were “intentionally
targeted” during protests outside Ferguson’s police station.
The governor said his thoughts and prayers are with the officers.
Local protest leaders said the shootings of two police officers
during the rally in Ferguson didn’t reflect their non-violent
In an interview with Democracy Now, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a pastor
who attended last night’s protest, said the idea that the shooter
was embedded inside the group of protesters is not true.
“All of a sudden, three to four shots rang out north of the
protesters and north of the police station,” said Sekou.
“And we all turned in the direction up a hill on a one-way
street where the shots were coming from, and then we saw the
officer down and screaming. And then, you know, chaos ensued.
Everyone took cover. We began to help clear the lot to get people
“The police began to draw their weapons. A number of police
cars headed toward the area. And we did all we could to get
people out…the hill [is] on the one-way street that runs
perpendicular into South Florissant, right in front of the police
Sekou said people in Ferguson had been protesting peacefully and
non-violently for over some 200 days until the Department of
Justice report was released.
“We are concerned that the protesters or this movement will
be demonized for the shooting of the officers, and it is just a
no-win situation for anyone involved and who has a stake in
that,” Sekou told Democracy Now. “But we are nonetheless
committed to nonviolence in this movement, and we will, in due
time, in due respect, continue our activities to highlight the
systematic injustice that the Department of Justice report