Demonstrations have been held in response to death of Michael Brown, the unarmed 17-year-old shot and killed by an as-of-yet unnamed officer while purportedly raising his hands in surrender.
Civil disobedience turned violent again early Wednesday morning as another black teenager was shot and critically wounded while allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers.
According to officer Brian Schellman, spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, officers responded to multiple calls around 1 a.m. Wednesday reporting shots fired and four people wearing ski masks and armed with shotguns near the site of protests.
A police statement regarding this most recent shooting:
"When officers arrived, multiple subjects began running from the scene. One officer encountered a subject who brandished a handgun, pointing it directly at the officer. Fearing for his safety and the safety of others in the area, the officer fired shots, striking the subject. The subject was transported to a local hospital, where as of this writing, he is listed in critical condition. The subject's handgun was recovered by police at the scene."
Schellman said would not release the name of the officer in Wendesday morning's shooting unless he or she is charged with a crime after an investigation, according to the LA Times,. Schellman said this is customary practice and in keeping with Ferguson Police Department's refusal to disclose the identity of the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Following Wednesday's incident, Ferguson police issued a second longer statement -- posted in its entirety at the bottom of this article -- assuring Ferguson they "have heard the community's cries for justice" and are "are working to restore confidence in the safety of our community and our neighborhoods so that we may begin the healing process."
"We have worked diligently to provide an opportunity for our residents to both grieve and voice frustrations through prayer vigils and peaceful protests," the press release stated.
It also asked "all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community."
"Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours," it explained.
Discontent and dissent have been continually mounting as the community demands the identity of the officer involved in the death of Michael Brown, but so far the Ferguson Police Department has remained unwilling to release the officer's name.
Parties claiming to be affiliated with cyber hacktivist group Anonmyous have publicly announced intent to obtain and disclose the identity of the officer, and cyber attacks attempting to hack the city's website have temporarily disrupted the site but have so far been unsuccessful at obtaining any information.
"They have made threats about posting some officers' personal information," said Zoll, who told Reuters that cybercrime experts were assisting the department in investigating the threats.
Tensions in Ferguson over the refusal of police to release the name of the officer involved reached a tipping point Sunday night when demonstrations and rallies gave way to looting and vandalism. The community pitched in to clean up after itself in the following days, taking to the streets with brooms to sweep up broken glass and collect garbage.
Since Sunday there has been no further property destruction en masse, yet police have reportedly taken to firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds to disperse protests before the demonstrations can once again reach the heightened emotional pitch that turns rally into revolt and riot.
Rev. Al Sharpton, President Barack Obama, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, among many other public figures, have all called on the community of Ferguson to engage in peaceful protest and nonviolent assembly. Michael Brown Sr., the father of the young man who was killed, said "I need all of us to come together and do it right, the right way, so we can get something done about this. No violence."
But Natasha Lennard, a journalist who left the New York Times after her role in the Occupy Wall Street protests caused controversy, published an op-ed in Vice arguing that the violent protests are merely an apt response to an already violent culture citizens find themselves living in, noting a study that found "structural racism, classism, and habitual police brutality to be among driving forces of the riotous rupture," in the protests that swept London in 2011.
"If broken windows and smashed up police cars serve even as mere emblems that the status quo is already violent, that a shiny patina cannot hold, then such criminal acts are worthwhile for that reason alone," she wrote.
Ferguson Police Department Press Release:
The City of Ferguson mourns the loss of Michael Brown's life that occurred this past Saturday. We understand members of our community, and those nationwide, are grieving with us. We have worked diligently to provide an opportunity for our residents to both grieve and voice frustrations through prayer vigils and peaceful protests.
We would like to extend our gratitude to the St. Louis County Police Department, the St. Louis City Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and numerous local law enforcement agencies for their assistance over the past several days. These officers have worked throughout the night to quell violent outbursts and restore calm to our City.
We are working to restore confidence in the safety of our community and our neighborhoods so that we may begin the healing process. We have heard the community's cries for justice and assure the public that the Ferguson Police Department will continue to cooperate fully in the investigations led by the St. Louis County Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Justice Department.
We ask that any groups wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner. We further ask all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants and the safety of our community. Unfortunately, those who wish to co-opt peaceful protests and turn them into violent demonstrations have been able to do so over the past several days during the evening hours. These events are not indicative of the City of Ferguson and its residents.
The City of Ferguson has been through tough situations in the past, albeit nothing to this magnitude, but will continue to display resilience and fortitude. The Mayor and City Council are committed to taking the necessary steps to rebuild and strengthen our community. We look forward to your cooperation and support.