Shots Fired at Protest Marking Anniversary of Brown's Death in F - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Shots Fired at Protest Marking Anniversary of Brown's Death in Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - The anniversary of 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, began with a solemn march in his honor and ended with a protest that grew increasingly confrontational before it was interrupted by gunfire.
    
Shots rang out around 11:15 p.m. Sunday as several hundred people gathered on West Florissant Avenue, the area hit by rioting and looting last year after Brown's killing by a Ferguson police officer. The sound sent demonstrators running for cover.
    
St. Louis County Police spokesman Shawn McGuire said in an emailed statement that an officer who came under "heavy gunfire" had been involved in a shooting.
    
Police didn't immediately say whether there were any injuries, but minutes after the shots were heard, an Associated Press photographer saw a man lying face down, covered in blood, behind a boarded-up restaurant. It wasn't immediately clear how badly the man was hurt.
    
Later, an AP reporter saw a woman overcome with grief. Friends were consoling her. She screamed: "Why did they do it?" Another woman nearby fainted.
    
A man nearby said, "They killed my brother."
    
The police department tweeted that at least two unmarked cars were hit by gunfire. A spokesman didn't immediately respond to questions about the shooting. McGuire's statement said the department was "working as quickly as possible to get details of the incident."
    
Several events earlier Sunday marked the anniversary of the killing, which cast greater scrutiny on how police interact with black communities. Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., led a march through town after a crowd of hundreds observed 4½ minutes of silence.
    
The group began their silence at 12:02 p.m., the time Brown was killed, for a length of time that symbolized the 4½ hours that his body lay in the street after he was killed. Two doves were released at the end.
    
The elder Brown then held hands with others to lead the march, which started at the site where his son, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November, but the shooting touched off a national "Black Lives Matter" movement.
    
Pausing along the route at a permanent memorial for his son, Michael Brown Sr. said, "Miss you."
    
He had thanked supporters before the march for not allowing what happened to his son to be "swept under the carpet."
    
Later, a few hundred people turned out at Greater St. Mark Family Church for a service to remember Brown, with his father joining other relatives sitting behind the pulpit.
    
The anniversary has sparked days of renewed protests, though until Sunday they had been peaceful and without any arrests.
    
Before the shots were fired, protesters were blocking traffic and confronting police. One person threw a glass bottle at officers but missed.
    
For the first time in three consecutive nights of protests, some officers were dressed in riot gear, including bullet-proof vests and helmets with shields.
    
Organizers of some of the weekend activities have pledged a day of civil disobedience on Monday, but have not yet offered specific details.
    
Earlier, at the march, some wore T-shirts with likenesses of Brown or messages such as "Please stop killing us" or "Hands up! Don't shoot!" which became a rallying cry during the sometimes-violent protests that followed the shooting a year ago.
    
But the focus of the weekend has largely been on Brown, who graduated from high school weeks before the shooting and planned to go to trade school to study to become a heating and air conditioning technician.
    
Relatives and friends described Brown as a quiet, gentle giant who stood around 6-foot-3, weighed nearly 300 pounds and was eager to start technical college. But police said Brown stole items from a convenience store and shoved the owner who tried to stop him on the morning of Aug. 9, 2014. Moments later, he and a friend were walking on Canfield Drive when Wilson, who is white, told them to move to the sidewalk.
    
That led to a confrontation inside Wilson's police car. It spilled outside, and Wilson claimed that Brown came at him, menacingly, leading to the fatal shooting. Some witnesses claimed Brown had his hands up in surrender. Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove testimony by Wilson that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot.
    
The shooting led to protests, some violent, and the unrest escalated again in November when a St. Louis County grand jury determined that Wilson did nothing wrong. He resigned days later. The November riots included fires that burned more than a dozen businesses.
    
The Justice Department reached the same conclusion in March, clearing Wilson. But in a separate report, the Justice Department cited racial bias and profiling in policing as well as a profit-driven municipal court system that often targeted black residents, who make up about two-thirds of Ferguson's populace.
    
Ferguson's city manager, police chief and municipal judge resigned within days of that report. All three were white. The new judge, interim city manager and interim police chief are all black.

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