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Police in Ferguson have been accused of mishandling the Michael Brown shooting in the days since the teenager’s death — the lack of transparency, the militarized force used against peaceful protestors, and failure to arrest or question shooter Officer Darren Wilson have no doubt led to a sense of distrust between the community and the police department.

But it’s what some residents witnessed at the scene of the shooting that added emotional distress to an already tragic incident. According to a Mother Jones report, residents in the Canfield apartments where Brown was gunned down say they saw police officers driving over flowers at Brown’s memorial. At one point, an officer let a police dog urinate in the spot where Brown lay for four hours in what could be considered a modern-day public lynching.

For weeks, the strip of road has been covered in roses, teddy bears, balloons, signs, and even bottles of water for those protesting the shooting. Just feet away, West Florissant Avenue sits — the site now synonymous with tear gas and police clashes. But Brown’s memorial, tucked between tan apartment buildings on a narrow street off of W. Florrisant, is usually a calm site for reflection.

The day Brown was shot, however, that was a different story.

From Mother Jones:

Soon, police vehicles reappeared, including from the St. Louis County Police Department, which had taken control of the investigation. Several officers emerged with dogs. What happened next, according to several sources, was emblematic of what has inflamed the city of Ferguson, Missouri, ever since the unarmed 18-year-old was gunned down: An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.

The incident was related to me separately by three state and local officials who worked with the community in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. One confirmed that he interviewed an eyewitness, a young woman, and pressed her on what exactly she saw. “She said that the officer just let the dog pee on it,” that official told me. “She was very distraught about it.” The identity of the officer who handled the dog and the agency he was with remain unclear.

Police had prohibited all vehicles from entering Canfield Drive except for their own. Soon the candles and flowers had been smashed, after police drove over them.

“That made people in the crowd mad,” Pace said, “and it made me mad.” Some residents began walking in front of police vehicles at the end of the block to prevent them from driving in.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Police told Mother Jones that the department was unaware of the blatant disrespect.

But the first attempts to build a memorial only to have it decimated by officers was no secret. In fact St. Louis alderman Antonio French, who live tweeted the police clashes in the days after the shooting, documented scenes from the site.

Still, government and law enforcement officials told Mother Jones that criticism of police response has been “overblown.” And on Wednesday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar defended the military tactics used by police, claiming the response is needed for “very urban areas.”

But as far as having basic respect for the dead? Well, Ferguson officials have yet to comment.

To read more on Mother Jones’ Mark Follman’s experience in Ferguson, click here.

SOURCE: MotherJones | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

REST IN PEACE: Thousands Gather For Michael Brown’s Funeral (PHOTOS)
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