Ken Kendricks Jr., a nearby resident, puts his hands together in prayer at a makeshift memorial at the site where unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Reuters
For a third consecutive night, restraint prevailed at
protests on Friday in Ferguson, Missouri, as the National
Guard began withdrawing from the St. Louis suburb racked by
turmoil after a white police officer shot dead an unarmed
Hundreds of protesters marched in the hot summer night near
the site of the August 9 slaying of 18-year-old Michael
Brown, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot," while police
vehicles observed the demonstration, without intervening.
After dwindling in numbers, the protesters, marshaled by
volunteers from the clergy, made their way to a parking lot
across from the police station, where they prayed and chanted
while about 20 officers stood in a line outside.
Earlier at St. Mark Family Church, a hub for protest
organizers, activists and residents met to pray and work on
plans to improve the predominantly African American community
of 21,000 in the wake of unrest that has focused
international attention on often-troubled U.S. race
Despite a notable easing of tensions in recent days - police
made only a handful of arrests on Wednesday and Thursday -
authorities braced for a possible flare-up of civil
disturbances ahead of Brown's funeral, which is planned for
Police in Ferguson came under sharp criticism, especially in
the first several days of demonstrations, for arresting
dozens of protesters and using heavy-handed tactics and
military gear widely seen as provoking more anger and
violence by protesters.
In the latest embarrassment for local law enforcement, an
officer from the St. Louis County Police Department was
removed from active duty on Friday after a video surfaced in
which he boasted of being "a killer."
Officer Dan Page, a 35-year police force veteran who had also
served in the U.S. military, was removed from patrol duties
and placed in an administrative position pending an internal
In the video, Page is seen addressing a St. Louis chapter of
the Oath Keepers, a conservative group of former servicemen,
saying, "I'm also a killer. I've killed a lot, and if I need
to I'll kill a whole bunch more. If you don't want to get
killed, don't show up in front of me."
He also made disparaging remarks about Muslims and expressed
the view that the United States was on the verge of collapse.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar apologized, saying
the comments were "bizarre" and unacceptable.
Two days earlier, another St. Louis-area policeman, an
officer from the town of St. Ann, was suspended indefinitely
for pointing a semi-automatic assault rifle at a peaceful
demonstrator and yelling obscenities.
The incidents have highlighted the racial divide in Ferguson,
a largely black town where almost all the police force and
local politicians are white. Civil rights activists say
Brown's death followed years of police targeting blacks.
A grand jury, made up of three blacks and nine whites, met
this week to begin hearing evidence in the case.