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Ferguson protesters tear up American flag

A man aged (20) was charged with shooting two police officers from a car.
Mar 16th 2015, 7:25 AM 9,202 9

POLICE IN THE US have charged a  young African-American man in connection with the shooting in Ferguson last week that wounded two police officers.

Meanwhile, during rallies about the Ferguson incidents, some protesters ripped up and trampled on the American flag.

Source: RuptlyTV/YouTube

Charged

Jeffrey Williams, 20, is charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle causing injury, St Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch told reporters, after an intense four-day manhunt.

“It’s possible at this point that he was firing shots at someone other than the police, but struck the police officers,” McCulloch said, adding that Williams had acknowledged firing gunshots and that the investigation was ongoing.

Ferguson Source: AP/Press Association Images

Ferguson has been in the global spotlight since a white policeman fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August, igniting sometimes violent protests in major American cities and prompting an impassioned debate about policing and race relations.

Wednesday night’s gunfire erupted just hours after Ferguson’s police chief resigned in response to a Justice Department report that alleged systemic racial bias in the city’s overwhelmingly white police force, in a suburb of 21,000 that is two-thirds black.

McCulloch said Williams had participated in some of the demonstrations demanding justice that have roiled Ferguson almost nightly since Brown’s killing — a claim disputed by protest organisers.

After news filtered through of Williams’ arrest, about 100 people gathered outside the police station in support of police and Mayor James Knowles, who is under growing pressure to resign.

Protests 

Ferguson Source: AP/Press Association Images

Facing them were a handful of African-American protesters, some of whom shouted abuse in the faces of the predominantly white and middle-aged pro-police group.

Some protesters tore up an American flag in the middle of the street.

“Police officers are human beings and most police officers are doing a very good job,” said white Ferguson resident Blake Ashby, who sported a yellow “Ferguson Proud” T-shirt but acknowledged a need for institutional reforms.

In Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder welcomed news of Williams’ arrest, saying it sent “a clear message that acts of violence against our law enforcement personnel will never be tolerated.”

‘Never seen his face’

Protest organisers strongly disputed the assertion that the suspect had taken part in anti-police demonstrations, saying they did not recognise him.

“I’ve never seen his face (at the protests),” said Bishop Derrick Robinson, who visited Williams in his cell in the St Louis County jail on Sunday.

Robinson told AFP that Williams told him he had shot at a demonstrator who had attempted to rob him, but that he could not identify who that perpetrator was.

Ferguson Source: AP/Press Association Images

The pastor added that Williams showed him bruises on his body, which the detainee claimed had been the result of police beating him when he was taken into custody Saturday.

The two officers shot on Wednesday were among a detail of several dozen police from around St Louis County who had been sent to Ferguson as reinforcements.

One, from the affluent white suburb of Webster Groves, was hit in the face, the other, a member of the St. Louis County force, in the shoulder. Both were treated in the hospital then released.

According to McCulloch, Williams — being held on $300,000 (€285,000)cash bail — “has acknowledged his participation in firing the shots,” stressing however that “he is innocent until proven guilty.”

He also said a .40-caliber handgun that matched the shells found at the scene of the shooting had been found during a raid of Williams’ residence in the Ferguson area.

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Why Ferguson is on a knife-edge again>

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