The fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in St. Louis Wednesday sparked more protests in a city already plagued with racial tension due last year’s killing of Michael Brown, Jr., the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by a White Ferguson police officer.
Police say the 18-year-old, identified as Mansur Ball-Bey, pointed a gun at them while officers were issuing a search warrant to a Fountain Park home. Two young Black men reportedly ran out of the back door of the home and when police ordered them to stop, Ball-Bey allegedly pointed a weapon, prompting an officer to fire four times, Reuters reports.
The latest shooting comes on the one-year anniversary of Kajieme Powell’s death in St. Louis. Powell, a Black man, was fatally shot by police just days after Brown’s death. The shooting of Ball-Bey on a day that evoked the constant Black trauma of police shootings drew angry crowds who disputed officers’ accounts and called for a stop to fatal police practices. Many protesters were already in the area to mark the anniversary of Powell’s death.
Police Chief Sam Dotson spoke to reporters Wednesday to give an account of the shooting, saying the gun Ball-Bey allegedly possessed was stolen. He also said officers recovered crack cocaine and three other guns on the scene, Reuters writes.
As the grieving crowd grew, police in riot gear warned that the assembly was “unlawful.” Within minutes, police in armored vehicles and SWAT gear arrived to push the crowds back. Antonio French, a city alderman in St. Louis, remarked that the presence of militarized tactics escalated tensions.
As night approached, police tear gassed crowds in what many protesters say was an unprovoked attack that held no regard for the families in nearby houses.
According to Dotson, the police response came only after protesters threw glass bottles and bricks at officers.
At some point, small fires erupted around the neighborhood. A car and a vacant house were set ablaze. Firefighters reportedly did not respond immediately, as they were waiting for police escorts.
Police arrested nine people following the unrest.
SOURCE: Twitter, Reuters | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter