After several days of peaceful protests commemorating the one-year anniversary of Mike Brown’s death, August 9th ended with four plainclothes detectives shooting an armed black teenager.
According to St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar, two rival groups exchanged gunfire on West Florrisant Avenue Sunday night. The four officers says they saw one of the people involved, Tyrone Harris Jr., running across a parking lot across the street, and drove up to him in an unmarked car. As they approached, Harris allegedly began to shoot at them, and police fired back from inside the car. As Harris continued to run, the officers exited their cars and began to chase him on foot. Gunshots were exchanged until Harris was shot by all four.
In a video posted by activist Tony Rice, Harris lay on the ground bleeding while an officer circles him with his gun drawn. Harris was eventually driven away in an ambulance in critical condition, and has since undergone surgery.
The father of the teenager, Tyrone Harris Sr., later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “we think there’s a lot more to this than what’s being said.” According to local Fox2 reporter Rebecca Roberts, the family has not been allowed to enter the hospital.
The police shooting concluded an otherwise peaceful day of mourning and protest. Earlier in the day, 1,000 peaceful protesters joined Michael Brown Sr. at the place his son was killed. They observed 4.5 minutes of silence to represent the 4.5 hours Brown’s body was kept in the street. White doves were released, and Brown’s father led the crowd in a memorial march to Greater St. Mark Family Church — a sanctuary during the unrest last August.
But the peaceful demonstration took a turn when a small group of people burglarized a beauty supply store on West Florrisant. Protesters gathered in the street and police in riot gear approached and ordered them to move. Most of the crowd dispersed, until a long line of police cars drove up with their sirens blaring. Chanting demonstrators gathered in the street again and squared off against officers in riot gear.
Alderman Antonio French, who has emerged as a vocal proponent of police reform in St. Louis County, a group of non-protesters broke into a nearby strip mall during the standoff. The gunshots that resulted in the police shooting started minutes later.
“You have some people here who use the cover of this anniversary to commit some violent acts,” French said. “To see violence happen on this day in this city is really disappointing.”
However, activists took to social media to share that police at the scene were acting more aggressively than they let on, tweeting that S.W.A.T and tanks were brought in and that police surrounded and blocked protesters.
W. Florissant. https://t.co/JsDw8coo81
— deray mckesson (@deray) August 10, 2015
LIVESTREAM: Police firing chemical munitions at protesters, some attempting to throw them back.http://t.co/CcG20WBWVk
— OccupythePort (@occupytheport) August 10, 2015
— Search4Swag (@search4swag) August 10, 2015