Two #Police officers were shot in Ferguson, Missouri, during a demonstration following the resignation of police chief, Tom Jackson. One officer was shot in the shoulder whilst the other received a bullet near his ear, as the stand-off between police and African-American citizens continued.
The shooting was condemned by both, Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Police officers in Missouri have begun a manhunt to find the person responsible. St Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, confirmed that the search for the culprit would be the service’s “number one priority,” having described the incident as an “ambush.”
The force has acted quickly and already three people have been detained though no arrests have as yet been made. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that two men and a woman have been taken into custody and television footage appeared to show tactical officers breaking into the attic of a house in a St Louis suburb.
The violence erupted around midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, following the announcement that police chief Tom Jackson had resigned. Jackson was heavily criticised for his role in the protests of August 2014 after the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. In November, Mr Wilson was cleared of all charges by a grand jury, an event that triggered further protests by the black community. In New York, two police officers were ambushed and shot dead in what was claimed by the perpetrator to be a revenge killing for the death of Michael Brown.
With tensions still running high, Jackson tendered his resignation a week after the publication of a damning report that found his department guilty of widespread racial bias. Figures published by the US department of Justice showed that 93% of people arrested in Ferguson are of African-American descent despite only two in three residents being black.
The family of Michael Brown was also quick to condemn, “any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement.” The family has maintained its dignity throughout and prefers to support a peaceful protest rather than condoning violence. They fear that these new shootings will “attempt to derail the otherwise peaceful and non-violent movement that has emerged throughout this nation to confront police brutality."
Police and protesters held differing opinions as to the source of the gunfire. The police believed that it emanated from the centre of the crowd whilst the demonstrators claim that the shots came from further away, from a hill “at least 500 feet away.” The police believe that a handgun was used and shell casing has already been recovered from the scene.
Whilst feeling a sense of victory that the police chief had resigned, the crowd felt it had not gone far enough. They wanted to add the resignation of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles to that of Jackson.
In an atmosphere already described as “toxic,” an immediate resolution to the tensions seems unlikely. The police service will have to work extremely hard in the next few months to recover a small amount of trust with the residents of Ferguson.