A candlelight vigil for an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a police officer was followed by unrest as crowds looted and burned stores, vandalized vehicles and taunted officers who tried to block access to parts of the city.
The killing drew criticism from some civil rights leaders, who referred to the 2012 racially charged shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American, by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was acquitted of murder charges. Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton called the shooting “very disturbing” and said he planned to go to Ferguson to meet with the family.
Streets in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson upended on Sunday night were relatively quiet early Monday. Some debris littered the area but crowds had dispersed.
St. Louis County police spokesman Brian Schellman said 32 people were arrested for various infractions including assault, burglary and theft. Schellman said two officers suffered minor injuries and that there were no reports of civilians hurt.
The tensions erupted after a candlelight vigil Sunday night for 18-year-old Michael Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday in a scuffle with an officer. The investigation into what led to the shooting was ongoing.
Several businesses were looted, including a check-cashing store, a boutique and a small grocery store. People took items from a sporting goods store and a cellphone retailer, and carted rims away from a tire store. Some climbed atop police cars as the officers with riot shields and batons stood stoic nearby, trying to restrict access to the most seriously affected areas.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said there were no reports of injuries as of about 11 p.m. But there were scattered reports of assaults into the very early morning. Pat Washington, a spokeswoman for Dooley, said tear gas had been used. Authorities would not immediately confirm media reports of gunfire.
“The small group of people are creating a huge mess,” Mayor James Knowles said. “Contributing to the unrest that is going on is not going to help. … We’re only hurting ourselves, only hurting our community, hurting our neighbors.”
County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that on Saturday, an officer encountered Brown and another man outside an apartment complex in Ferguson. One of the men pushed the officer into his squad car and they struggled. Belmar said at least one shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said authorities were still sorting out what happened inside the police car. It was not clear if Brown was the man who fought with the officer.
The struggle spilled out into the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. Belmar said the exact number of shots wasn’t known and that all shell casings at the scene matched the officer’s gun. Police were investigating why the officer shot Brown, who police have confirmed was unarmed.
Jackson said the second person has not been arrested or charged and it wasn’t clear if he was armed. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told KSDK-TV there’s no continued…