Washington, Aug 19:
Two men were wounded by gunshots and 31 people were arrested in Ferguson in the US state of Missouri overnight in fresh riots to protest the shooting death of an unarmed African-American teenager by a police officer, Missouri Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson said.
A peaceful protest turned violent as night set in Monday, despite the deployment of the National Guard in the small town close to St. Louis.
“Peaceful protestors are not the enemy, not them. But today we had shootings. Two people had to be moved to a hospital and those who shot them were not policemen,” Captain Johnson told CNN at the end of the protests.
Tension escalated when police in riot gear began to warn protestors they must clear the streets to avoid being arrested, prompting a group of demonstrators to hurl Molotov cocktails, bottles and other objects at them. At least one building was reported to be in flames.
“I went there to ask for peace. I wanted to do everything I could to keep the situation peaceful. I went there in the middle and could have been hurt. I know that those who have been arrested today were not peaceful,” Johnson said.
The decision to deploy the National Guard, the state military that is usually mobilised during natural disasters and deals with public disorder, could not calm down the situation in Ferguson on the ninth day of protests over the death of Michael Brown, 18, from gunshots fired by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
Though around two-thirds of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents are black, the town’s police force is nearly all-white.
Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head, the New York Times said Monday, citing a private autopsy commissioned by his family.
The unrest in Ferguson has led to schools being shut down for the rest of the week as a precautionary measure.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended flight restrictions on Ferguson – not less than 3,000 feet – until Aug 25.
Rapper Nelly, who grew up in St. Louis, joined the protests with a T-shirt that read “#MikeBrown”, the name of the youth killed in circumstances yet to be clarified.
The rapper called for peaceful protests and to avoid looting and clashes.