Violence erupts in Ferguson

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Violence erupts in Ferguson

Jackie Cope, Features Editor

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On Thursday, March 12, two officers were shot outside by an unknown shooter the Ferguson Police Department.

Both officers are currently in the hospital, and are in “serious” condition according to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar at a press conference. A 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves, Missouri was shot in the face, while 41-year-old officer from St. Louis was shot in the shoulder.

The gun model and shooter remain unknown, according to Belmar. “I don’t know who did the shooting, to be honest with you,” Belmar said. He could not give a description of the suspect.

Staples student Jacob Nadel ’15 was appalled and saddened by the shootings. Nadel, an active member of Junior State of America, never condones violence, even in reaction to severe racial tensions.

Last summer, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson, inciting mass protest of racial profiling in Ferguson. A state grand jury declared Wilson innocent in November, sharpening racial divides and resulting in mass looting and fires.

“Violence is not the answer to violence,” Nadel said.

Demonstrators gathered Wednesday in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri police chief’s resignation, after a scathing report from the U.S. Justice Department citing racial bias rampant in police department and court system. The U.S. government is working to reach a “court-enforceable agreement” to halt “unconstitutional practices,” specifically the city’s racist practices against African Americans, who are arrested at a higher rate and charged at a more severe level, according to the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Young Democrats President Olivia Jones ’15 found the shootings both “tragic” and “ridiculous.” While Jones admits “we do not have a great history” with the police and racism, she is appalled that innocent officers were punished for other people’s actions.

“They are innocent citizens trying to protect a community and for them to be shot over an incident unrelated to them aside from working in the same force is tragic and should not happen,” Jones said.

The shootings followed the Wednesday decision of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson to resign. Mayor James Knowles III announced Wednesday that Jackson and the city reached an agreement, where Jackson would resign and the city would pay him his year’s salary of $96,000 dollars and health coverage. Jackson’s resignation will be effective March 19, and Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will be acting chief while a permanent replacement is looked for.

A similar separation agreement was reached with City Manager John Shaw. In addition,

Ferguson’s court clerk Mary Ann Twitty was fired, and two police officers resigned. A judge who oversaw the court system in Ferguson also resigned.

Zach Effman ’15 is not surprised by the violent outbreak, but is saddened regardless.

“I think that this latest violence further speaks to the immense anger within Ferguson’s black community and desire for change,” said Effman, “but I also think that such violence cannot possibly improve the situation.”

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