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Police arrest 32 in riots over killing of black teen in Missouri

Reuters , Monday 11 Aug 2014
Protestors blocking Florissant Road raise their hands after being approached by police officers who asked them to stop blocking the street in front of the Ferguson police department on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Police arrested 32 people after rioting and looting erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, late on Sunday and spread to neighboring towns in protests that turned violent over the killing of a black teenager by a police officer, officials said on Monday.

Crowds broke the windows of cars and stores, set a building alight and looted shops following a day of demonstrations over the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old shot on Saturday by a Ferguson police officer.

At least two dozen businesses were damaged, St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said on Monday. More than 300 police officers, many in riot gear, tried to control the crowd, and one officer was struck by a brick while another hurt his knee while making an arrest, Schellman said.

"The words I heard them use about the scene were 'chaotic," even 'scary,'" Schellman said.

He said the unrest had spread from Ferguson, a largely black St. Louis suburb, to adjacent communities before ending early Monday.

Supporters of the teen had previously said they planned to protest again later on Monday outside the Ferguson police station, but it was unclear if that would still go on, Schellman said.

The 32 people arrested will face charges that could include assault, larceny and burglary, Schellman said.

Police said Brown was shot after a struggle over a gun in a police car. It was not immediately clear why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle, and then the office fired more shots before leaving the car.

The officer, who was not identified, is a six-year veteran and has been put on administrative leave, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told a news conference late Sunday. The officer's race has not been disclosed.

Sunday's protests turned violent after dark, according to news station KMOV-TV, with rioters smashing windows of stores and restaurants and damaging cars.

KMOV-TV footage showed a QuikTrip convenience store set on fire after it was looted. A teenage witness told KMOV, "They destroyed everything."

Mobs rushed out of other stores, including an AutoZone and a Ross Dress for Less, with armfuls of stolen goods, KMOV-TV and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported.

Brown's mother told television station KSDK that her son was a "good child getting ready to go to college" and that he was visiting his grandmother when the shooting took place.

The St. Louis County branch of the civil rights group NAACP has said it wants the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the killing. The NAACP called a meeting for 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) Monday to discuss the case, according to a spokesman for Murchison Tabernacle C.M.E Church, where it will be held.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has instructed the Justice Department's civil rights division to monitor the case, and the FBI said it is assisting police in the investigation, CNN reported.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement Sunday that he had spoken with Brown's grandfather and had agreed to visit St. Louis to help the family.

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